Irish general election, 1992
|Percentage of seats gained by each of the five biggest parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.|
The Irish general election of 1992 was held on Wednesday, 25 November 1992, almost three weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 5 November. The newly elected 166 members of the 27th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 14 December 1992, but a new Taoiseach was not elected. A new Fianna Fáil-Labour Party coalition government was not appointed until 12 January 1993 after Albert Reynolds was re-elected Taoiseach.
The general election of 1992 was precipitated by the collapse of the Fianna Fáil–Progressive Democrats coalition government. Allegations of dishonesty at the Beef Tribunal forced Desmond O'Malley and his party to part ways with Albert Reynolds's Fianna Fáil. Both Albert Reynolds and John Bruton of Fine Gael were fighting their first general election as leader of their respective parties. For Reynolds it would be his only election as leader. The campaign went very poorly for Fianna Fáil with Reynolds's support dropping by 20%.
Among the left, the Labour Party had increased their support in the local elections the previous year and many were predicting major gains for the party in the Dáil. The Workers' Party of Ireland had split at a special convention that year over a motion to re-constitute the party, similar to the move made the same year by the Italian Communist Party, and sever all links with the Official IRA. Six out of their seven TD's and a majority of their councillors left the party when the motion failed to be passed and hastily formed Democratic Left to contest the election.
Many political pundits had predicted that Fianna Fáil would not be re-elected and that a "Rainbow Coalition" involving Fine Gael, the Labour Party and possibly Democratic Left would be formed. John Bruton, the leader of Fine Gael, had problems of his own. Opinion polls showed that if a "Rainbow Coalition" came to power, Dick Spring of the Labour Party was seen as a better potential Taoiseach than Bruton. The possibility of a rotating Taoiseach was also hinted at in the media.
The big winner of the campaign was Dick Spring and the Labour Party. They distanced themselves completely from Fine Gael and fought an independent line. During the campaign Spring made very little comment about what the party would do after the election, however, he did say that if the Labour Party was part of a coalition he would have to be granted a turn as Taoiseach.
|Party||Leader||Seats||±|| % of
| First Pref
|Fianna Fáil||Albert Reynolds||68||9||40.9||674,650||39.1||5.0|
|Fine Gael||John Bruton||45||10||27.1||422,106||24.5||4.8|
|Labour Party||Dick Spring||33||18||19.8||333,013||19.3||9.8|
|Progressive Democrats||Desmond O'Malley||10||4||6.0||80,787||4.7||0.8|
|Democratic Left||Proinsias De Rossa||4||New||2.4||47,945||2.8||–|
|Sinn Féin||Gerry Adams||0||0||0||27,809||1.6||0.4|
|Workers' Party||Tomás Mac Giolla||0||7†||0||11,533||0.7||4.3|
- Fianna Fáil–Labour Party coalition government formed.
When the votes were counted the picture was clear. Fianna Fáil had its worst performance since 1927, winning less than 40% of the vote. Fine Gael, in spite of predictions of success, actually lost 10 seats. The Labour Party recorded its best ever result, an event dubbed the "Spring Tide" and more than doubled its number of seats. Talks between Fine Gael and Labour on establishing a minority government floundered after several weeks, partly over the issue of the 'revolving Taoiseach'. Spring had to enter into coalition with Fianna Fáil, or force another election. The coalition deal proved very unpopular with many of Labour's supporters, because Dick Spring had campaigned heavily against Fianna Fáil and particularly Albert Reynolds. As a result of the coalition, Albert Reynolds was elected Taoiseach with over 100 votes, the biggest majority by any Taoiseach in Irish political history until 2011.
Following a number of scandals in 1994, particularly over the beef industry, the Labour Party left the coalition and, after negotiations, formed the "Rainbow Coalition" with Fine Gael and Democratic Left on 15 December 1994, as three by-election gains had by then made a Fine Gael-Labour-Democratic Left majority government possible. This was the first and to date, only occasion in Irish political history that a party had left a governing coalition and gone into government with opposition parties without first holding an election.
Dáil membership changes
The following changes took place as a result of the election:
- 11 outgoing TDs retired
- 155 TDs stood for re-election
- 126 of those were re-elected
- 30 failed to be re-elected
- 41 successor TDs were elected
- 33 were elected for the first time
- 8 had previously been TDs
- There were 10 successor female TDs, increasing the total number by 7 to 20
- There were changes in 29 of the 41 constituencies contested
Outgoing TDs are listed in the constituency they contested in the election. For some, such as John Stafford, this differs from the constituency they represented in the outgoing Dáil. Where more than one change took place in a constituency the concept of successor is an approximation for presentation only.
- Members of the 27th Dáil
- 23rd Government of Ireland
- 24th Government of Ireland
- Ministers of State of the 27th Dáil
- Members of the 20th Seanad
- "27th Dáil 1992 General Election". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
- "Dáil elections since 1918". ARK Northern Ireland. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
- Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, pp1009-1017 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
- "Dáil Éireann By Elections 1918–2005". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
- 1992 election: Party leaders' debate RTÉ archives