Gender and Voting Patterns in the 2011 General Election

By Claire McGing, IRCHSS scholar, Dept of Geography, NUI Maynooth 

Women comprised just 15 per cent of women candidates in the 2011 general elections, but how did those that ran fare in comparison to their male colleagues in terms of voting patterns?

The table below shows first preference votes cast by candidate sex and party in February. Overall, female candidates courted slightly more first preference votes on average than male candidates, although this is in part explained by the large number of ‘no hoper’ non-partisan men. Looking at the five main political parties only, men received more first preference votes per head than women candidates, largely explained by incumbency, although the difference varied considerably between parties. The largest gap emerged for Sinn Féin, with male candidates winning nearly 2,000 more votes on average than their female colleagues. If women are polling less than men, and in the absence of a mandatory electoral gender quota, it could be argued that there is little incentive for parties to run more females on pragmatic grounds alone. On the other hand, women that ran as part of the ULA umbrella group won just over 700 more votes per head than male candidates, suggest that it would be worth their while to run more women in future elections. Independent women received marginally more than male independents.

Table: First preference vote by sex and party, 2011 election

Party  First preferences (total) First preferences (men) First preferences (women) First pref. per male candidate  1st pref. per female candidate 
Fianna Fáil

387,358

333,940 (86%)

53,418 (14%)

5,218

4,856

Fine Gael

801,628

688,552 (86%)

113,076 (14%)

7,914

6,652

Labour

431,796

328,054 (76%)

103,742 (24%)

6,561

5,763

Sinn Féin

220,661

190,372 (86%)

30,289 (14%)

5,769

3,786

Green Party

41,039

35,848 (87%)

5,191 (13%)

1,024

649

United Left Alliance

59,423

41,878 (70%)

17,545 (30%)

2,792

3,509

Independents

246,954

221,871 (90%)

25,083 (10%)

1,378

1,568

Others

31,500

29,800 (95%)

1,700 (5%)

851

567


 

 

 

 

 

Total

2,220,359

1,870,315 (84%)

350,044 (16%)

3,896

4,070

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About Claire McGing

PhD student with interests in gender politics, electoral geography, candidate selection and political reform.
This entry was posted in Election data, Gender and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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