European Union Elections are governed by European and domestic legislation.  European Parliament Elections Act, 1997 is the present legislation.  Parts of the (general) Electoral Act apply.

European elections are held every five  year in May or June in the fourth and ninth  year of each decade.  They take place Europe wide during a four-day period.  A four-day period is allowed, and the Minister for the Environment and Local Government nominates the day concerned.

The Republic of Ireland has twelve (13) seats in the European Parliament and there are four constituencies. Seats are allocated at European Union level.

The election comprises Irish citizens and nationals of other European Union states resident in Ireland.  Their names must be on the register of electors.  The same broad principles apply to postal and other special voting.

Elections take place by way of proportional representation by a single transferable vote in multi-seat constituencies in the same manner as in a Dail election.

Nationals of any EU state over 21 years, who are not disqualified by law may stand as candidates.  A person may be a candidate in one constituency only. A range of persons are disqualified from candidacy for the European Parliament.  They include

  • persons under 21 years ,
  • non-EU citizens/nationals,
  • certain officer holders at national and EU level.
  • Officers of the EU bodies.
  • members of an Gard Siochana and Defence Forces.
  • certain civil servants unless expressly permitted.
  • persons serving sentences more than six months.
  • undischarged bankrupt.

Names of national parties and European affiliate groups appear on the ballot paper.  Candidates must furnish certificates of party affiliation to the clerk of the Dail. A deposit is required.  It is refunded if the candidate exceeds one-quarter of the quota. Photographs are to appear on ballot paper.

Vacancies are filled from a list of replacement candidates are published at the time of the election concerned.  Nominations for replacement candidates are presented to  the returning officer prior to nominations being closed.  Political parties may nominate replacements and a non-party candidate may nominate  up to three replacements.

A candidate may also be on the replacement list.  A candidate may not be on the replacement list in more than one constituency.  These replacement candidates are published and shown in each polling station. A vacancy is filled by a person on the replacement list.

The arrangements to the count are broadly similar to those for a Dail election.

The President is nominated directly.  The Presidential Elections Act, 1993 and the Electoral Acts, generally apply.

The Presidential elections take place within sixty days of the end of the President’s seven-year term.  Where the President’s term ends early by death, resignation or incapacity, the election must be held within sixty days.  The Minister for the Environment appoints the day of the election.

The election takes place by secret ballot proportional representation with a single transferable vote.  The entire State is a single constituency. No party affiliations appear on the ballot paper.  The electorate are Citizens of Ireland over 18 years old who are ordinarily resident.

A person may not be a candidate for the presidency unless he is 35 years or older. A referendum to reduce the age to 21 years was defeated om 2015. Candidates must be citizens of Ireland.  A President other than one that has served two terms, is eligible for re-election and may nominate himself or herself.  Once elected as President, the person concerned vacates his seat as a member of the Dail  or Seanad.

The presidential returning officer nominated by the Minister of the Environment and Local Government acts as returning officer.  The period for receipt  of nominations is set.

The outgoing president may nominate himself or herself.  A candidate may be nominated by at least 20 members of the Oireachtas.  Each member may support only one candidate.

A candidate may be nominated by four County or City Councils.  Each Council may nominate one candidate only.  A majority of the council must so resolve.  Notice of the proposed meeting must be given to each Councillor.

The validity of nominations is assessed by a judicial assessor who must be a High Court judge.  The presidential returning officer may object to inaccurate identification and description proposed for the  ballot paper.

If only one candidate is nominated, no election is held.  The person stands elected.  If nobody is nominated, the nomination process recommences. The procedure for the count is broadly similar to that in respect of a Dail bye-election.

Local elections are held every five years on a  single date nominated by the Minister for Environment and Local Government.  The requirement to hold local elections is now specified in the Constitution, after a 1999 amendment.

The Minister for Environment divides councils into electoral areas.  The smaller local authorities are single constituencies.  Anybody ordinarily resident in the local area over 18 years is eligible to register for vote.  Citizens of Ireland or persons ordinarily resident over 18 and not disqualified are eligible to be candidates.

Much the same list of persons who are excluded or disqualified from being members of the Dail may not be elected as members of the local authority.  Persons who are not qualified include:

  • Members of an Garda Siochana and the Defence Forces.
  • Civil servants whose employment terms do not expressly allow them to be members of local authorities.
  • Persons serving prison sentences more than six months.
  • Persons surcharged by a local authority audit within five years.
  • Persons who have failed to comply with judgments for money due to the local authority. Within five years.
  • Persons convicted of offences of fraudulent or dishonest dealings affecting local authority corrupt practices (disqualification- five years).

There is no prohibition on standing for more than one Council or in more than one local authority area.  However, he may  choose to nominate one area per local authority.

The Clerk or Secretary of the local authority is deemed returning officer and is responsible for the organisation of the election and count.  The procedures are broadly similar to those in respect of Dail elections.

The returning officer gives notice of the election.  Nominations are open for a period of seven days during which candidates may nominate themselves or may be nominated r with the consent of an elector in that local electoral area. Candidates pay a deposit on standing.

In the event of vacancies in the course of a local authority term, a new member is co-opted onto the local authority.  The co-opting may take place by vote, although in practice, most local authorities allow the party of the person concerned to nominate the candidate.  This is not always the case. The co-option is made by a meeting of the elected members.


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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