Adrian Kavanagh – updated on 11th May 2011
Constituency level figures on candidate selection by gender for the 2011 General Election.
First looking at figures for Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail. Sinn Fein did not contest five constituencies. Females accounted for 14.7% of the 75 Fianna Fail candidates (11 in total) – this 14.7% representing the highest ever percentage of female candidates on a Fianna Fail ticket - and 19.5% of Sinn Fein candidates (8 in total) – there was no female Sinn Fein candidate in 36 constituencies (but the party did run two female candidates in Mayo) and no female Fianna Fail candidate in 32 constituencies:
|Sinn Fein||Fianna Fail|
|Kerry North-West Limerick||3||1||1|
Fine Gael and Labour were the two parties who were the most pro-active in selecting their election candidates early. Females accounted for 15.4% of all Fine Gael candidates and 26.5% of all Labour candidates:
|Kerry North-West Limerick||3||2||1|
The United Left Alliance grouping had 20 candidates (including 9 People Before Profit Alliance and 9 Socialist Party candidates) with female candidates accounting for 25.0% of these (though females accounted for 44.4% of all the selected People Before Profit candidates). The Green Party had candidates selected for each of the 43 constituencies and they selected eight female candidates (18.6% of current total):
|United Left Alliance||Greens|
|Kerry North-West Limerick||3||1|
And finally, the numbers for the “Others” grouping (of which females accounted for 9.3% of the 215 candidates within the independents and smaller parties grouping) and the overall current constituency totals in terms of selected candidates:
|Kerry North-West Limerick||3||3||2||9||2|
Well under one in six – 15.2% – of the 566 candidates who contested General Election 2011 were female, a level that was 2.2% below the 2007 level of 17.4%. If the “Others” grouping was excluded and selections by the main political parties instead focused on, the percentage of female candidacies would have stood at 18.9%, a roughly equivalent level to the 19.1% level recorded for the 2007 contest and the 18.9% level recorded for the 2002 election (these figures including candidate numbers for the parties that currently comprise the United Left Alliance grouping).
As well as the fact that Labour and the United Left Alliance were the parties with the highest percentage of female candidates, there was also a tendency for higher levels of female candidacies to be associated with larger (4-seat and 5-seat) constituency sizes. Females just accounted for 13.8% of the candidates selected to run in three-seat constituencies, as compared with a level of 15.4% for 4-seat constituencies and 16.2% for 5-seat constituencies.
There was also a geographical dimension. Females have traditionally been more likely to be selected to contest constituencies in Dublin, but this was not the case for the upcoming 2011 contest with females accounting for just 16.1% of the total number of candidates selected in the Dublin constituencies. Females accounted for a disappointing 13.2% of selected candidates in Leinster and 13.3% in Munster, the regions with the lowest level of female candidacies. The Connacht-Ulster region, where females only accounted for 16.1% of all candidates in 2007, compared much more favourably in 2011 with female candidates accounting for 19.6% of all Connacht-Ulster candidates – the highest level of all of the different regions. Females accounted for 15.2% of all candidates in the urban constituencies (Dublin, Cork NC, Cork SC, Limerick C, Galway W) and 15.2% of all candidates in the other, more rural, constituencies.
There were no female candidates running in the following four constituencies: Cork South-West, Kildare South, Limerick and Roscommon-South Leitrim. Clare, Donegal North-East, Dublin North, Kerry North-West Limerick and Wexford may also be added to this list if one is only looking at the five largest parties; Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, Green Party and Sinn Fein. In 2007, no female candidate contested Cork South-West, Dublin North-East, Limerick West (now Limerick), Meath West and Roscommon-South Leitrim – no female candidate from one of the six largest parties in that election (FF, FG, LB, PD, GP, SF) contested Dublin North or Waterford also. In 2002, no female candidate contested Cavan-Monaghan, Cork North-West, Dublin Central, Dublin South West, Kildare North. Kerry North, Limerick West, Tipperary South and Waterford - no female candidate from one of the six largest parties in that election (FF, FG, LB, PD, GP, SF) contested Sligo-Leitrim also.
Finally it is worth noting that party headquarters do have the power to add candidates to the list of party candidates in a constituency and there is the possibility that they could opt to do so to better balance their parties’ selections gender-wise. However, the sense for the 2011 election is that this does not seem to have been a major concern for the parties; candidates generally seem to have been added instead on the basis of geographically balancing party tickets. Indeed females only accounted for 5 of the 27 candidates directly added by party headquarters for this election.