Who are the most vulnerable TDs if we do have another election?

Our political analyst Odran Flynn looks at what difference, if any, a second election would have

Who are the most vulnerable TDs if we do have another election?

File photo | Image: RollingNews.ie

As talks on the formation of a new government drag on and on, and with the Department of the Environment ordering new general election polling cards, the prospect of re-running the election becomes closer by the day. Should this happen what, if any, difference would it make?

The probability is that virtually all of the TDs elected in February would run again. Normally a reasonable number of outgoing members retire. Prior to the past five elections the numbers calling it a day were:

2016 – 20
2011 – 39
2007 – 19
2002 – 23
1997 – 17

However if you go back to 1982, when there were two elections, the retirements were five in November and seven in February.

Of course there are many TDs who have no desire whatsoever to be back on the doorsteps, especially the 50 who were elected for the first time.

On the other side of the coin there are 48 people who lost their seat six weeks ago and most are champing at the bit to give the electorate the opportunity to correct their error in voting them out.

The recent election saw 552 candidates enter the contest, which was the second highest number ever - just 14 fewer than 2011.

For the first time in the history of the State, the number of candidates (55%) from smaller parties (holding less than 10 seats) and Independents accounted for more than 50% of the total number of candidates.

If there is to be fewer candidates in a snap election, then they will probably come from the ranks of those referred to as 'Others'. In February 90 of these, the vast majority being Independents, received less than 500 first preference votes - with 17 of them failing to attract even 100 supporters.

In a fresh election, who are the most vulnerable? There are 20 TDs who won the seat in the last election by less than 1,000 votes - which is approximately 2% of the votes cast.

The table below is a breakdown of who those 20 TDs are (on the right), and who was the runner-up in that constituency.

Brid Smith (AAA-PBP) in Dublin South-Central had the narrowest win by 35 votes, while Paul Kehoe (FG) in Wexford had 52 votes to spare. Eight others won by less than 400 votes.

It leaves the prospect, for example, of Joan Burton abhorring the prospect of an election - yet three of her erstwhile colleagues - Ged Nash, Kevin Humphreys and Aodhan O Riordain - who were all Ministers of State cannot wait to get back on the campaign trail.

Would the result change significantly if the people were asked to vote again in the next few months?

Polls and surveys suggest that somewhere between 10% and 20% would change their vote which somewhat - bizarrelybeing interpreted by some analysts and commentators as meaning little would change.

They clearly do not grasp the import of those numbers. 10% would mean that 213,000 voters had changed their mind. while 20% would bring that figure up to 426,000.


That number of people changing their mind could have an impact on as many as 80 seats and give us a very different composition in the Dáil than we have now.

A sobering thought for those who are prevaricating about making the most of what they currently have.

But will they listen?

Newstalk.com's political analyst Odhran Flynn has been taking a closer look at the numbers.

Live from @ElectionNT