The slow growth of Sinn Féin: from minor player to centre stage?
Walsh, Dawn and O'Malley, Eoin (2012) The slow growth of Sinn Féin: from minor player to centre stage? Working Papers in International Studies. (Paper No. 1202). Dublin City University.
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In the elections of 2011 Sinn Féin made something of a breakthrough in national elections. It received almost 9.9 per cent of the national vote in the general election, a three point increase on its 2007 result. Later in the year its candidate for the presidential election, Martin McGuinness, polled almost 14 per cent. The party’s return in seats though less than its vote would have commanded in a purely proportional system, was a significant improvement on its disappointing result in 2007. Its 14 seats compared favourably to Fianna Fáil’s 20 seats. Fianna Fáil’s decision not to contest the presidential election, while probably wise in hindsight, caused some towonder was the party leaving itself open to further encroachment of itsposition by Sinn Féin.
Throughout this book we see examples of small parties who blaze brightly for a short period, only to die out. O’Malley (2010) suggests that this might be because of the impact of government on small parties. The experience of Sinn Féin in the Republic of Ireland seems to bear this out. The party has made steady progress and in 2011 was larger than any of the minor parties since the PDs in 1987. It is approaching the size of the Labour Party in the 1997, 2002 and 2007 elections. In short it seems to be moving from minor to mainstream party.
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