Irish Local and European Elections

06 June 2024 - by Gráinne Walsh

On Friday, voters in Ireland will go to the polls for local council and European elections. The local elections will see more than 2,100 candidates contest 949 seats across 31 councils, with 166 local electoral areas in total. On the same day, voters will elect 14 MEPs in the three constituencies of Midlands North-West, South and Dublin to the European Parliament.

While not providing a direct read across the results will shape party thinking about the time and tone of a future general election campaign  

So what issues are on the minds of voters south of the border? Recent analysis in RTE News captured voter priorities as: 

  • Immigration: what should the Irish Government do about the increase in migrants and refugeesWhat does this mean for public serviceswhat is the long-term impact of the government’s response to the war in Ukraine and what does that mean for other groups in the state 

  • Housing: a challenge shared with GB and Northern Ireland politicians, building more affordable homes and reducing homelessness is one of the top issues for people. Healthcare: how to voters feel government are faring when it comes to reducing waiting lists and accessing services in a partially privatised system. 

  • Crime and public safety the resourcing and deployment of Gardaí remains a perennial issue heightened by recent attacks and rioting in Dublin. 

  • Infrastructure not dissimilar to debate here, infrastructure investment in rural and western parts of the country is on both politicians and people's minds. 

 Polling from last weekend in the Sunday Independent showed: 

  • Independents and others: 23% (+4) 

  • Sinn Féin: 22% (-7) 

  • Fine Gael: 22% (+3) 

  • Fianna Fáil: 17% (+1) 

  • Social Democrats: 5% (-1) 

Sinn Féin has dropped across the polls in recent months. How this plays out on polling day will be important for the party across the island, with a UK general election in four weeks, and one due in the south at a time to be determined by the current government.  

Other things to watch out for are:  

  • How will voters respond to new Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Simon Harris?  

  • Will Fianna Fáil making inroads into Sinn Féin's voter base and claw back loses? 

  • What impact will the largest number of independent candidates have on the results and on the operation of local government in the future?  

  • How will the Greens do 

Counting of the local election votes will start on Saturday morning but the EU election count will not start until Sunday morning. The first result in the EU election can’t be announced until 10pm on Sunday night when all polls across Europe have closed. If 2019 vote is anything to by then the EU count could take up to four days for the final result