Ireland, a triumph for national, green and radical Left

Sinn Fein’s historic breakthrough is a long-overdue rejection of the status quo and a cosy two-party system

By Danielle Ryan
It’s been described as “seismic,” a “tsunami,” a “monsoon.” Whatever you call it, Ireland has witnessed a political earthquake, with long-time outcast Sinn Fein stunning the establishment to become the island’s most popular party.

By winning the popular vote, the left-wing Sinn Fein (SF), long hampered by its historic associations with the IRA and the violent struggle against the British state in Northern Ireland, has managed to pull off a feat no other political party has in almost a century.
To an outsider unfamiliar with the finer details of Irish politics, the numbers themselves may not seem so significant: SF won the popular vote with 24.5 percent, while the two center-right establishment parties, Fianna Fail (FF) and Fine Gael (FG), won 22.2 and 20.9 percent respectively. Only when you put it in its historical context does the significance of the SF rise become clear.
Under Ireland’s proportional representation voting system, first preference votes for SF were a miniscule 1.9 percent in 1987. A decade later in 1997, that figure had grown to a measly 2.5 percent. By 2016, it rose to 13.8 percent, but the party was still seen as politically insignificant. Four years later and under new leadership, SF has managed to become the most popular party in the country and, finally, broke Ireland’s two-party system.

Ireland election: How Sinn Féin dominated the social media campaign

By Matthew Holroyd
There was shock and celebration across Ireland’s political spectrum as the polls closed on the country’s latest general election.
For the first time since Ireland gained independence in 1922, Sinn Féin received the most first preference votes in an election.
It means the left-wing nationalist party is now likely to form part of the next Irish government for the first time ever.
The party’s surge in votes at the polls reflects data from the online campaign, which shows that Sinn Féin dominated the social media conversation in the lead up to the election.
According to CrowdTangle data, which analyses the total number of interactions that social media pages have, Sinn Féin had more than 60% of the share of the voice, compared to other parties on Facebook.
The party’s Facebook page had approximately 350,000 more interactions (likes, comments and shares) than the second-highest party, People Before Profit, in the 30-day period before the election.

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