Irish general election, 1957

Irish general election, 1957
Republic of Ireland
5 March 1957

146 of 147 seats in Dáil Éireann
74 seats were needed for a majority
Turnout 71.3%
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Éamon de Valera Richard Mulcahy William Norton
Party Fianna Fáil Fine Gael Labour Party
Leader since 26 March 1926 1944 1932
Leader's seat Clare Tipperary Kildare
Last election 65 seats, 43.4% 50 seats, 32.0% 19 seats, 12.1%
Seats before 68 48 17
Seats won 78 40 12
Seat change Increase10 Decrease8 Decrease5
Percentage 48.3% 26.6% 9.1%
Swing Increase4.9% Decrease5.4% Decrease3.0%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Leader Paddy McLogan Joseph Blowick Seán MacBride
Party Sinn Féin Clann na Talmhan Clann na Poblachta
Leader since 1950 1944 1946
Leader's seat N/A Mayo South Dublin South-West
Last election N/A 5 seats, 3.8% 3 seats, 3.1%
Seats before N/A 5 3
Seats won 4 3 1
Seat change Increase4 Decrease2 Decrease2
Percentage 5.4% 2.4% 1.7%
Swing Increase5.4% Decrease1.4% Decrease1.4%

Percentage of seats gained by each of the five biggest parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.

Taoiseach before election

John A. Costello
Fine Gael

Subsequent Taoiseach

Éamon de Valera
Fianna Fáil

The Irish general election of 1957 was held on 5 March 1957, just over three weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 4 February. The newly elected members of the 16th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 20 March when the new Taoiseach and government were appointed.

The general election took place in 40 parliamentary constituencies throughout Ireland for 147 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann.


The general election of 1957 was precipitated by the crisis in the trade balance and the government's reaction to it. As a result of this Fianna Fáil tabled a motion of no confidence in the inter-party government of Fine Gael, Labour and Clann na Talmhan. Rather than face defeat in the vote the Taoiseach John A. Costello, decided to dissolve the Dáil and let the people decide. The campaign was fought largely over economic issues and the situation in the North. In the north the IRA launched Operation Harvest which drew much popular support in the south. Sinn Féin had been re-built and re-organized as a party by Paddy McLogan and was fielding abstentionist candidates.

Fianna Fáil had produced a major policy document in January, criticising many of its own policies in regard to the economy. While they did not know an election was imminent this became the backbone of their manifesto. The importance of free trade was played up by Fianna Fáil in a clear rejection of the protectionist policies they had advocated in the past. The architect of many of these new policies was the spokesperson for Industry and Commerce and the heir-apparent of the party, Seán Lemass. At 75 years of age Éamon de Valera was fighting his last general election as leader of the party. In spite of his age he carried out a vigorous campaign, often being accompanied by brass bands and torch-lit processions. The Fianna Fáil message was simple: coalition governments were unstable.

The other parties, most of them having enjoyed a stint in government over the previous three years, fought the election on their record in office, Fine Gael in particular. Clann na Talmhan failed to broaden their appeal and remained the voice of the farmers. Clann na Poblachta under Sean MacBride had agreed not to stand in constituencies where Sinn Féin were fielding candidates and never made the breakthrough it had hoped for and lost two of its three seats. Sinn Féin, fighting one of its first post-war elections polled well on an abstentionist ticket, winning 4 seats


16th Irish general election 5 March 1957[1][2][3]
Party Leader Seats ± % of
First Pref
% FPv ±%
Fianna Fáil Éamon de Valera 78 +13 53.1 592,994 48.3 +4.9
Fine Gael Richard Mulcahy 40 –10 27.2 326,699 26.6 –5.4
Labour Party William Norton 12 –7 8.2 111,747 9.1 –3.0
Sinn Féin Paddy McLogan 4 +4 2.7 65,640 5.3 +5.2
Clann na Talmhan Joseph Blowick 3 –2 2.0 28,905 2.4 –1.4
Clann na Poblachta Seán MacBride[4] 1 –2 0.7 20,632 1.7 –1.4
Irish Housewives' Association 0 New 0 4,797 0.4
Ratepayers' Association 0 New 0 3,113 0.3
Independent N/A 9 +4 6.1 72,492 5.9 +0.6
Spoilt votes 11,540
Total 147 0 100 1,238,559 100
Electorate/Turnout 1,738,278 71.3%

When the votes were counted it was clear that Fianna Fáil had achieved an overall majority. Éamon de Valera became Taoiseach for the last time.

First time TDs

Re-elected TDs

Outgoing TDs

See also


  1. "16th Dáil 1957 General Election". Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  2. "Dáil elections since 1918". ARK Northern Ireland. Retrieved 27 May 2009.
  3. Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, pp1009-1017 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  4. After the election, while Seán MacBride remained leader of Clann na Poblachta, John Tully was the sole member of the parliamentary party.
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