Seanad Election 2016 – Cultural and Educational Panel counts: Updates and Perspectives

Adrian Kavanagh, 25th April 2016 (This post will be (hopefully) updated, as and when counts proceed over the rest of the day.)

Counting for the 2016 Seanad elections commenced earlier today.

Cultural and Educational Panel (5 seats – at least 2 “Inside”/at least 2 “Outside”)

The first constituency/panel to be counted was the Cultural and Educational panel. The First Count for this panel was announced on the afternoon of 25th April 2016 and details for this and subsequent counts may be viewed here. The main trends evident in this count included the following:

  • Sinn Fein (and indeed the other major parties) were winning votes from outside their own party
  • Independents were faring much better than in previous Seanad elections, suggesting an effort to ensure a greater degree of cohesion, although at least a quarter of the Independent votes were still being lost to the political party candidates. That being said, the small number of seats in this panel did not help Joe Conway but the expectation, based on this, would be that Independents should prove more successful on the larger panels (more seats, smaller quotas).
  • Party loyalty in terms of transfer patterns still remained strong – and crucially just about strong enough to ensure second seats for Fianna Fail and Fine Gael in the face of the very strong Joe Conway challenge.
  • Lorraine Clifford-Lee proved to be immensely transfer-friendly, gaining significant ground on her rivals as the counts progressed. She was in joint 9th place on the First Count – the (joint) 3rd strongest Fianna Fail candidate at that point along with Malcolm Byrne – and was 78.000 votes behind Joe Conway at that point in time. Between the First Count and the crucial Twenty First Count she picked up 126.924 transfers votes, contrasting with 44.244 transfer votes for Conway, 90.188 transfer votes for McFadden and 93.264 transfer votes for O’Donnell.
  • This was a good panel for candidates from Dublin (winning two seats), perhaps underpinning the impact of the improved local authority member levels for Dublin (relative to the rest of the county) in the 2013 electoral area/local election constituency boundary revisions.
  • Yet again, the Cultural and Educational panel proved to be a (relatively!) good panel for female candidates, with two candidates – Lorraine Clifford-Lee and Gabrielle McFadden – winning seats here. Female candidates won 23.2% of the first preference votes in this panel.

Sinn Fein’s Fintan Warfield became the first candidate to be elected to the new Seanad, topping the poll for the Cultural and Educational panel. (He would also win the most first preference votes of any candidates contesting the five vocational panel elections.) His 200-vote tally suggested that Sinn Fein have been successful in winning Seanad votes off other political groupings in 2016, although this may also point to evidence of a vote-pact with other groupings also. Fine Gael proved stronger than might be expected, based on their current levels of TDs, Councillors and (outgoing) Senators, which may point towards Fine Gael candidates potentially picking up some of the floating Labour Party vote here (given that no Labour candidate contested this panel). As expected, Fianna Fail emerge as the strongest party here, although the Inside/Outside Panel rules could yet work in Fine Gael’s favour. Independents have performed better than in previous Seanad elections, pointing to a greater coherence amongst the fairly-sizable Independent vote base here.

On the First Count, Fianna Fail candidates won 389 votes (34.6%, or 2.1 quotas), Fine Gael candidates won 365 votes (36.5%, or 2.0 quotas), Sinn Fein candidates won 200 votes (17.8%, or 1.1 quotas) and Independent candidates won 169 votes (15.0%, or 0.9 quotas).

Comparing the party/grouping votes here with their anticipated strengths, based on current Dail/Council/(outgoing) Seanad levels (as discussed in this earlier post), it can be seen that the three larger parties have all picked up some votes from the Independents and smaller parties, with Fine Gael being probably the most successful in this regard.

Looking at these figures, Sinn Fein are (obviously) assured of one seat here, as are Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Despite a strong performance by independent candidate, Joe Conway (126 votes/11.2%), the figures suggest that transfers may yet edge a second seat towards both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. But these vote levels do suggest that if the Independent grouping fails to win a seat here (and this result may be quite close), this grouping should be able to translate their strength at Council and Dail/Seanad levels into seats in the larger (in terms of seat number) panels, given that the quotas for these will be notably smaller.

A study of the Sinn Fein/Fintan Warfield transfer patterns (on Count 2) showed that Independents were the more likely to fare best in this regard (in particular, Deirdre Burke, Joe Conway and Seosamh O’Ceallaigh), with 41.2% of the Warfield transfers going to Independents. However, a sizable chunk of these transfers also went to Fianna Fail (29.9%) and Fine Gael (28.9%) candidates. Fine Gael’s Jim D’Arcy (based in Louth) fared best amongst the non-Independent candidates in terms of winning Warfield transfers.

The elimination of independent candidate, Declan Carey, on Count 5 saw a significant chunk of his 5.528 votes transfers go to Joe Conway (2.132), but Fianna Fail’s Lorraine Clifford-Lee (1.0) and Fine Gael’s Jim D’Arcy (1.0) also fared well here. After this count, Fianna Fail candidates held 42.2% of the remaining votes (excluding the votes that elected Warfield and any non-transferable votes), while Fine Gael candidates held 39.5% and Independent candidates held 18.3%.

A number of lower-placed Fianna Fail candidates were eliminated in the earlier counts, allowing for a clearer picture as to the likely Fianna Fail seats to emerge. On Count 6, all bar one of the transfer votes of Fianna Fail’s Liam Crowley (11.264) went to fellow party candidates (10.132) – the other vote went to Fine Gael’s Jim Finucane and 0.132 votes were non transferable (presumably the votes he won off the transfer of the Warfield surplus). On Count 7, nearly ninety percent of the transfers of Fianna Fail’s MacBride (18.264 votes) went to other Fianna Fail candidates (15.132 votes), but independent candidates, Burke and Conway, both picked up one transfer vote each (or 1,000 votes!). A significantly higher level of vote slippage seemed to evident in relation to the Adrian O’Higgins vote transfers (20.264) on Count 8, with only 14.0 (69.7%) of these going to other Fianna Fail candidates. Almost one-quarter (24.7%) of these transfers (5) went to independent candidates – Conway (4 votes) and Burke (1 vote), notably shifting the balance of the count in Conway’s direction. (However, updated Seanad Count figures showed that the 4 votes being attributed to Conway actually went to Fianna Fail’s John Connolly – a crucial factor, given the closeness of the final margin between Fianna Fail’s Lorraine Clifford-Lee and Joe Conway. This also meant that, ultimately, there was very little vote slippage on this count, with 18.132 of the O’Higgins transfers going to other Fianna Fail candidates.)

At this point in the count (after Count 8) the most transfer-friendly candidates left in the race were (in order): Keith Swanick FF (having picked up 10.660 transfer votes from Count 1 onwards), Joe Conway IND (8,716 transfer votes), Lorraine Clifford-Lee FF (8.264 transfer votes), Malcolm Byrne (5.528 transfer votes), John Connolly FF (5.132), Seosamh O Ceallaigh (3.716), Seamus Walsh FF (3.660), Jennifer Cuffe FF (3.396) and Michael Collins FF (3.132).

The next counts would see the elimination of the next two strongest independent candidates after Conway – Deirdre Burke and Seosamh O Ceallaigh. Count 9 proved to be a good count for Joe Conway (picking up 11.0 transfer votes) who took over half (53.4%) of the transfer votes from fellow independent candidate, Deirdre Burke. But there was a significant degree of vote slippage evident here, with a significant number of votes (3.924, or 19.1%) proving to be non-transferable while 3.396 votes (16.5%) went to Fianna Fail candidates, such as Jennifer Cuffe, Lorraine Clifford-Lee and Malcolm Byrne. Fine Gael’s Anne-Marie Dermody also picked up a transfer vote on this count. Conway did not fare as well, however, with the transfer of the O Ceallaigh votes – picking up 6.262 of these, or 26.3%. Over half of the transfer votes – 14.528 transfer votes or 60.9% of the O Ceallaigh transfers – went to Fianna Fail candidates, with Keith Swanick proving to be particularly transfer friendly on this count (gaining an extra 7.0 transfer votes).

After Count 10, the remaining Fianna Fail candidates held 405.620 votes (43.7% of the remaining votes), the  remaining Fine Gael candidates held 374.696 votes (40.4%) and remaining Independent candidate (Conway) held 147,980 votes (15.9%).

The transfer of the Michael Collins transfers on Count 11 proved to be a very satisfactory one from a Fianna Fail perspective with only one vote out of his 26.132 votes transfers being lost to the party (Fine Gael’s Anne-Marie Dermody picking this up) – meaning that Fianna Fail candidates took 96.2% of the transfer votes here. Seamus Walsh (6.0), Keith Swanick (5.0) and Lorraine Clifford-Lee (4.132) fared especially well on this count.

At this point in the count (after Count 11) the most transfer-friendly candidates left in the race were (in order): Keith Swanick FF (having picked up 22.924 transfer votes from Count 1 onwards), Joe Conway IND (21.980 transfer votes), Lorraine Clifford-Lee FF (15.528 transfer votes), John Connolly FF (14.132), Seamus Walsh FF (10.924),Malcolm Byrne (10.528), Jennifer Cuffe FF (6.528) and Anne Marie Dermody FG (5.264).

The elimination of Mary Howard saw the first series of significant transfers to Fine Gael candidates on Count 12, but Keith Swanick fared very well in this regard also. He won 7.0 votes (nearly one quarter of all the 28.528 Howard votes – 24.5%/well over a quarter of the 27.264 transferable Howard votes – 25.7%). The remainder of the Howard transfers went to Fine Gael candidates (21.0 votes), with Anne Marie Dermody (7.0 transfer votes) and Kieran O’Donnell (7.0) both faring well in this regard, as well as Jim Finucane (4.0) and Gabrielle McFadden (3.0).

After Count 12, the remaining Fianna Fail candidates held 409.884 votes (44.2% of the remaining votes), the  remaining Fine Gael candidates held 369.168 votes (39.8%) and remaining Independent candidate (Conway) held 147,980 votes (16.0%).

Fianna Fail’s Tom Brabazon was eliminated at the end of Count 12. Most of his transfers (although 1.924 votes were non-transferable) went to other Fianna Fail candidates. Swanick again fared best, gaining an extra 6.0 votes, with the rest of the Fianna Fail transfer votes being almost divided evenly across the other remaining Fianna Fail candidates – Cuffe (4.132), Clifford-Lee (4.0), Byrne (4.0), Connolly (4.0) and Walsh (4.0). The only candidate outside of Fianna Fail to pick up transfers here was Fine Gael’s Finucane (1.0), but he was subsequently eliminated at the end of this count.

The Jim Finucane transfers (36.792) on Count 13 tended to favour the remaining Fine Gael candidates, but especially Kieran O’Donnell (15.0) and Anne Marie Dermody (9.0). Jennifer Cuffe was eliminated at the end of this count, standing on 41.792 votes at that point in time. Her transfers on Count 15 tended to especially favour her fellow Fianna Fail party members, with Lorrraine Clifford-Lee (11.0 transfer votes), Malcolm Byrne (9.0) and Keith Swannick (9.0) faring the best of the remaining Fianna Fail candidates. This count saw the elimination of another Fianna Fail candidate, John Connolly, standing on 60.132 votes at that point in time. This count again tended to favour the remaining Fianna Fail candidates, with Swanick (19.0), Clifford-Lee (15.0) and Byrne (12.0) all faring well.

After Count 16, the remaining Fianna Fail candidates held 400.036 votes (4% of the remaining votes), the  remaining Fine Gael candidates held 369.168 votes (39.8%) andremaining Independent candidate (Conway) held 147,980 votes (16.0%).

At this point in the count (after Count 16) the most transfer-friendly candidates left in the race were (in order): Keith Swanick FF (having picked up 63.924 transfer votes from Count 1 onwards), Lorraine Clifford-Lee FF (45,660 transfer votes), Malcolm Byrne (35.528), Joe Conway IND (27,112 transfer votes), Seamus Walsh FF (26.924) and Kieran O’Donnell (24.132).

At the end of Count 17 Anne Marie Dermody, standing on 71.264 votes, was eliminated. Most of her transfer votes went to the three remaining Fine Gael candidates, but these tended to widen the gap that existed between Gabrielle McFadden (gaining 25.132 transfer votes) and Kieran O’Donnell (20.132), on the one hand, and the other Fine Gael candidate, Jim D’Arcy (19.000). The only other candidates to gain transfers on this count – all picking up one more transfer vote – were Byrne, Swanick and Conway.

Seamus Walsh’s elimination (standing on 77.924 votes at this point) saw a large number of vote transfers being won by the three remaining Fianna Fail candidates, but with Keith Swanick (38.396 transfer votes) winning a large proportion of these. This effectively left him in a position where he was still a few votes short of the quota, but – once non-transferable votes were taken account of – in a position where his election was practically assured. Byrne gained 13.132 transfer votes, but would be eliminated at the end of this count, while Clifford-Lee gained 11.000 transfer votes. Conway had his best Count in terms of attracting transfer votes since the transfer of the O Ceallaigh votes on Count 10, gaining 5.000 transfer votes.

The next two counts would prove to be the crucial ones in terms of determining whether Lorraine Clifford-Lee could win a second seat for Fianna Fail. Crucially, she fared better than Swanick did in terms of the distribution of vote transfers on Count 19 – he had 97.660 votes when he was eliminated after Count 18, but 9.396 of these were non-transferable. Lorraine Clifford-Lee won 51.132 of these (57.9% of the transferable votes), while Swanick won 21.000 (23.8%), meaning that 80.7% of the transferable votes stayed with the Fianna Fail candidates., Conway yet again improved on his ability to attract transfers on this count, however, taking 7.0 of these. Over nine votes were also transferred to the Fine Gael candidates on this count, with O’Donnell (5.0) faring the best here. This count copperfastened the election of Keith Swanick – the second candidate to be elected and indeed the second of the Outside Panel candidates to be deemed elected – a factor that proved crucial at the end of the count. Given Conway’s continued – he was the leading remaining candidate at this point, although the Byrne transfer had significantly narrowed the gap between him and Clifford-Lee – Lorraine Clifford-Lee needed another strong transfer from the Swanick surplus, especially given that there would be no more Fianna Fail transfers to be won from this point on. 2.153 votes from Swanick’s surplus of 18.153 votes were non-transferable and Clifford-Lee would take 14 of the 16 transferable votes – winning 87.5% of these. This propelled here ahead of Joe Conway at the end of Count 20 – Conway won no transfers with the other two votes being shared between Jim D’Arcy and Gabrielle McFadden – but only by a margin of 3.6 votes and still well short of the quota. (At this point Lorraine Clifford-Lee had 169.792 votes, with the quota standing at 187.167 for this panel.)

The next transfer would prove crucial, given that only four candidates were remaining in contention for the three remaining seats. While the two Fine Gael candidates – O’Donnell (145.264) and McFadden (125.792) – were now trailing Clifford-Lee (169.792) and McFadden (125,792) by some distance, there was now a significant number of Fine Gael votes to be transferred following the elimination of Jim D’Arcy (107.716) at the end of Count 20. Given the large number of votes to be transferred (excluding 5.056 non transferable votes), a stronger transfer to O’Donnell than McFadden could have seen Fine Gael struggle to win two seats here, while a stronger transfer (even slightly) to Conway relative to Clifford-Lee could have cost Fianna Fail their second seat. As it transpired, McFadden took just over half of the transferable votes on Count 21 (51.396 votes – 50.1% of the transferable votes) with running mate, O’Donnell, crucially also faring well but not as well, taking 42.000 transfer votes (40.9%). While over ninety of the transferable D’Arcy votes staying with Fine Gael, Clifford-Lee (5.132) fared better in winning the other transfers than Conway (4.132) did. Had Conway won 3-4 more transfer votes on this count than Clifford-Lee he probably would have taken the final seat instead of her. Instead, this count officially confirmed that Kieran O’Donnell (standing on 187.264 votes at the end of Count 21) would be the third candidate to be elected (and the first of the Inside Panel candidates), but it also effectively determined that Gabrielle McFadden (standing on 177.188 votes at the end of Count 21) and Lorraine Clifford-Lee (174.924) would take the final two seats, narrowly edging out Conway (170.244). The O’Donnell surplus was still to be transferred but that was far too small (0.097 votes!) to have any bearing on the result, other than to edge an extra 0.082 votes towards McFadden and an extra 0.002 votes towards Clifford-Lee, thus ensuring both would be elected. The last count saw the transfer of Joe Conway votes (presumably to determine the order of election!) – with Lorraine Clifford-Lee again proving especially transfer friendly – winning 33.000 transfer votes as opposed to 20.000 for McFadden – ensuring she took the fourth seat here and McFadden took the fifth.

So what did we learn from this contest?

  • Sinn Fein (and indeed the other major parties) were winning votes from outside their own party
  • Independents were faring much better than in previous Seanad elections, suggesting an effort to ensure a greater degree of cohesion, although at least a quarter of the Independent votes were still being lost to the political party candidates. That being said, the small number of seats in this panel did not help Joe Conway but the expectation, based on this, would be that Independents should prove more successful on the larger panels (more seats, smaller quotas).
  • Party loyalty in terms of transfer patterns still remained strong – and crucially just about strong enough to ensure second seats for Fianna Fail and Fine Gael in the face of the very strong Joe Conway challenge.
  • Lorraine Clifford-Lee proved to be immensely transfer-friendly, gaining significant ground on her rivals as the counts progressed. She was in joint 9th place on the First Count – the (joint) 3rd strongest Fianna Fail candidate at that point along with Malcolm Byrne – and was 78.000 votes behind Joe Conway at that point in time. Between the First Count and the crucial Twenty First Count she picked up 126.924 transfers votes, contrasting with 44.244 transfer votes for Conway, 90.188 transfer votes for McFadden and 93.264 transfer votes for O’Donnell.
  • This was a good panel for candidates from Dublin (winning two seats), perhaps underpinning the impact of the improved local authority member levels for Dublin (relative to the rest of the county) in the 2013 electoral area/local election constituency boundary revisions.
  • Yet again, the Cultural and Educational panel proved to be a (relatively!) good panel for female candidates, with two candidates – Lorraine Clifford-Lee and Gabrielle McFadden – winning seats here. Female candidates won 23.2% of the first preference votes in this panel.

To conclude, the successful candidates on this panel were (in order of election):

  • Fintan Warfield Sinn Fein
  • Keith Swanick Fianna Fail
  • Kieran O’Donnell Fine Gael
  • Lorraine Clifford-Lee Fianna Fail
  • Gabrielle McFadden Fine Gael

Effectively, Sinn Fein gain a seat at the expense of Labour – the Labour Party did not contest this panel, in any case. None of the successful candidates were outgoing Senators, while two were former TDs (Gabrielle McFadden, Kieran O’Donnell) and one was a Councillor (Fintan Warfield). Lorraine Clifford-Lee and Keith Swanick did not hold electoral office at the time of this count.

Advertisements

About Adrian Kavanagh

Lecturer in Maynooth University Department of Geography.
This entry was posted in Seanad election, Vote Transfers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s