SIPO have released their standard election report for the February 2020 General Election. Held on the eve of the lockdown, the 2020 election was the trouncing of Fianna Fáil and its third consecutive election loss under Micheál Martin. Sinn Fein surprised everyone including themselves by taking the country by storm, their victory even more impressive when you consider the discrepancy in expenditure.
Fianna Fáil spent €2,212,050 to win 38 seats and Fine Gael spent a breadth less at €2,171,651 to take 35 seats. By stark contrast Sinn Féin spent €697,449 to take 37 seats. It should be noted that one of the seats Fianna Fáil “won” was an automatic election due to the Ceann Comhairle being automatically re-elected to the Dáil, so in actuality they spent three times as much as Sinn Féin to come away with the same number of seats.
The Labour Party came next with €481,067 followed by the Green Party’s €316,808. The Social Democrats (€240,489) and S-PBP (€202,975) shored up the rear of the left/liberal alliance.
Aontú spent an impressive €170,667 but this left them just shy of taking additional seats, notably in Cavan-Monaghan where Sarah O’Reilly took nearly 6% in FPVs.
In the first major election outing by ‘far-right’ parties, it seems the error was made in spreading funding too thinly. While the National Party, Irish Freedom Party, Renua, and (in some cases, unfortunately) associated Donegal based independents racked up a respectable €96,445 in expenditure, with the Pro Life Campaign having spent an additional €37.344 in promotions.
The issue with this has been that the various right wing populist parties ran between 10 and 11 candidates each, meaning that financial resources were split. Instead of having run near forty-candidates, in retrospect greater funding should have been made available to a small number of targeted campaigns.
If this author would suggest anything it would be that a strategy be chosen between disparate groups to agree a paper amalgamation for the purposes of increasing aggregate vote share (to come closer to the magical 2% threshold), and to focus on strategies for election – if one party or the other wishes to focus its spending nationally, it should do so with a view to increasing national vote share, whilst the other should target its funds into one or two well-financed election bids.
Such an coalition would not necessitate the deconstruction of individual party machines or organisations but would exist in much the same manner that Solidarity-PBP exist as one group on paper and another in organisational terms.