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Ireland - Electoral Law
Election to the European Parliament : 11 June 2004 - Electoral Procedure

The Electoral Act 1992, the European Parliament Elections Acts 1997, the Electoral Act 1997, the Electoral (Amendment) Act 1998, the European Parliament Elections (Forms) Regulations 1998, the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2002.

In 2004, the number of Irish MEPs drops to 13, and distribution of seats will be as follows:

  • Dublin, 4 seats
  • South [formerly Munster], 3 seats
  • East [formerly Leinster], 3 seats
  • North West [formerly Connacht Ulster], 3 seats

A Constituency Commission was set up to examine how the European constituencies should be changed to take the reduction of Irish MEPs into account. The Commission, which published its report in October 2003, has recommended the reduction of a seat in each of the Leinster and Munster constituencies and the transfer of the population of County Clare from the Munster constituency to the Connacht-Ulster constituency.

The Commission also recommended that the constituencies be renamed as follows:

  • Dublin (the city and county of Dublin) - 4 seats
  • East (all Leinster counties except Dublin) - 3 seats
  • South (all Munster counties except Clare) - 3 seats
  • North-West (Clare, all Connacht counties and the three Ulster counties in the Republic) - 3 seats

The European Elections (Amendment) Bill 2003, giving statutory effect to these constituency changes, was enacted on 27 February 2004.

The Single Transferable Vote (STV) method is used. This system is quasi-proportional:

votes cast + 1 = quota

Candidates are listed on the ballot paper in alphabetical order. Each voter casts his/her vote for one candidate and in addition indicates in order of preference the candidate(s) to whom his/her vote is to be transferred if the candidate of his/her first or subsequent choice has already reached the quota or has obtained too few votes and has thus been eliminated.

Allocation of seats:
A candidate is elected once he or she has reached the quota. Any votes accruing to a candidate in excess of the quota are redistributed on a proportional basis among the remaining candidates in accordance with the preferences expressed by the voters.

Deadline for registration: registration takes place between 10-17 May.
Deposit: none.
Conditions: Candidates of a political party must be nominated by their party. Independent candidates may nominate themselves but their nomination must be supported by 60 signatures (of persons on the electoral register in the same constituency). No-one may stand in more than one constituency.
Incompatibilities: Those laid down in the 1976 Act on Elections to the European Parliament. [eg member of the police force or army] In addition, membership of the European Parliament is not compatible with the office of Judge or Comptroller and Auditor General, not with the office of European Ombudsman or member of the board of the European Investment Bank. Persons who are elected to the European Parliament while holding the office of Attorney General, Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Dáil or Seanad or Minister of State shall, on election to the Parliament, cease to hold that other office. Otherwise, Membership of the European Parliament is compatible with membership of the Dáil or Seanad.
Dual mandate: Up to now TDs or senators have been allowed by their parties to stand for the EP and, if elected, to hold a dual national/European mandate until the next national election at which point they were required by their party to relinquish their national mandate. An amending Act, expected to be published this year and enacted by February 2004, will finalise and give legal effect to these hitherto informal rules.
4. POLLING DAYS : 11 JUNE 2004
Polling day: Friday 11 June, between 07.00-21.00.
Declaration of results: Counting of votes in the European elections will start on the morning of Sunday 13 June. No official results will be announced until 22.00 CET (21.00 in Ireland). However since counting takes place manually, tallies can be taken during the day by representatives of political parties who are allowed attend the count - these tally figures can give reasonably accurate information on the parties' respective percentage share of vote, meaning that informal indications of the Irish results are likely to emerge during Sunday afternoon. At 22.00 CET, the results of the first counts will be formally declared in each of the 4 Euro-constituencies, if they are already available. Subsequent counts will follow until all seats have been declared. The final results should be known on the evening of Sunday 13 June - though if a candidate were to lose a seat by a very narrow margin, he/she could demand a recount. In this case, the recount would probably not take place until the following day, Monday 14 June.
Right to vote:
  • All EU citizens aged 18 or over who are resident in Ireland and in full possession of their voting rights in their Member State of origin are entitled to vote.
  • Irish citizens resident abroad, whether in the EU or outside it, are not entitled to a postal vote.

Right to stand for election: Any EU citizen aged 21 or over who is resident in Ireland and in full possession of his/her right to stand as a candidate in his/her Member State of origin may stand for election.

Funding: There are legal limits on electoral expenditure, which includes both the candidate's own expenditure as well as any expenditure on his or her behalf by his or her party and/or any other organisation or person. The 2004 limit has been set at € 230,000. (the 1999 limit was IR £ 150,000 (€ 190,461)). If qualified, a candidate is entitled to apply for a reimbursement of their European election expenses. In order to qualify for a reimbursement, a candidate must either: be elected, or if not elected, have exceeded one quarter of the quota in the constituency at any stage of the counting of votes. The maximum amount which may be reimbursed is the lesser of € 38,092.14 or the actual amount of the election expenses incurred on the candidate.
Official campaign starting date: None.

Media access: RTE [the state broadcaster] strictly ensures equitable access for all candidates and parties.

Each candidate may send one message by post to all voters in his or her constituency.
Opinion polls: Permitted up to polling day.