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A Conservative Revolution?Electoral Change in Twenty-First Century Ireland$
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Michael Marsh, David M. Farrell, and Gail McElroy

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198744030

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198744030.001.0001

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Class Politics in Ireland

Class Politics in Ireland

How Economic Catastrophe Realigned Irish Politics

(p.11) 2 Class Politics in Ireland
A Conservative Revolution?

James Tilley

John Garry

Oxford University Press

Ireland has traditionally been portrayed as a political system in which social cleavages have played little role in driving vote choices. In 2011, the implosion of Fianna Fáil, which up to that point had been the party that most clearly exemplified the catch-all nature of Irish parties, changed this picture. This chapter shows that not only were economic divisions based on occupation and income increasingly important in deciding vote choices in 2011, but that this change was largely due to the differential defection of previous Fianna Fáil voters to the other parties. Put simply, voters defected from Fianna Fáil because of (negative) economic changes, but the party they defected to was predicated on their place in the economic structure. This realignment of the party structure was confirmed by the ideological views of people who defected—defectors to Labour and Sinn Féin were considerably more left wing than defectors to Fine Gael.

Keywords:   Ireland, parties, social cleavages, catch-all, class voting

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