This morning Joe Higgins was elected as an MEP for Dublin defeating both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil
Joe Higgins’ stunning victory in the Dublin Euro Constituency, getting 12.5% of the first preference vote, out polling Sinn Fein and defeating two sitting MEPs, was the final part in a weekend of drama and great election results for the Socialist Party in Ireland.
The Dublin Euro election was delayed because of a recount. As the early hours ticked by, the tension began to mount. It was clear this battle for the last seat in Dublin was now down to a battle royale between the Socialist Party verses Fianna Fail, the main capitalist party in Ireland and the party of government over the twelve years – between Joe Higgins and Eoin Ryan, former Minister.
Ryan was over 11,000 votes ahead. Sinn Fein’s MEP Mary Lou McDonald, who the Socialist Party had pushed into fifth position in the popular vote, was due for elimination and then her votes would be transferred to Ryan or Higgins or be non transferable, depending on the preferences of the voters. Someone said this is going to come down to the wire. The reply came “this is the wire!”
Of McDonald’s 55429 votes, Joe needed to get a significantly higher rate of transfers than Ryan does if he was to catch him. The indications were that a lot of her votes were not going to transfer to anyone, thereby potentially reducing the pot of votes for Joe to catch Ryan with.
Then the moment came. McDonald’s votes had been allocated and the count was effectively over, we were just waiting for an announcement. Some party members and supporters, as well as Fianna Fail, gathered around the returning officers podium. As that was happening the staff who had done the counting all day, streamed out from behind the barriers on their way home, leaving both groups of supporters to their respective fates in a huge hanger.
If transfers operated in the way expected, everything should be okay for a Joe victory but the possibility that a huge amount of the votes may not transfer could explode that scenario. And then there is always the possibility of the unexpected in proportional representation elections. The returning officer approached the podium.
Through the distorted mike the returning officer announced that Joe Higgins had got an additional 22,201 votes. People tensed as that was on the lower side of what we wanted. Was McDonald’s transfer to Ryan going to put him back in front and make him the winner? When it came out that Ryan got just 5,426, after a few seconds, there was then the realisation that we had indeed done it, that Joe was elected, the first CWI member in the European Parliament. Even though nearly 50% of the votes didn’t transfer, the 4 to 1 ratio meant we were elected with a good surplus of 5,410 votes.
The Local and European elections were a disaster for the governing Fianna Fail and Green parties, and now the administration is very shaky. We will deal with the political and economic situation in Ireland and what the Socialist Party should do now in future articles, but for now we’ll register this historic victory.