Michael Fitzmaurice, the ‘Ming’ dynasty candidate, who through a combination of his mentor’s backing and his forceful contributions on the TV and radio debate managed to gain 18.7% of the first preferences in the constituency compared to Connaughton’s 22%.
He also captured a lion’s share of the transfers from independents and Sinn Fein to secure the seat.
Fine Gael bagged 16.8% of the vote, and Labour received 6.1%.
In the Dublin South-West by-election which was held to replace Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes, Sinn Fein was widely predicted to win.
This was primarily because they ran former South Dublin Mayor, Cathal King.
However, people did not count on Paul Murphy of the Socialist party.
Murphy ran under the ‘Anti-Austerity Alliance’ banner, and lost his European seat last May.
Despite the fact that the water in Dublin is actually drinkable, unlike in parts of Roscommon, it seems that the issue of water is just as potent.
Paul Murphy, who suggested that Sinn Fein was not opposed enough to water charges, took the seat.
This is despite the fact that Sinn Fein’s candidate, King, had declared that he will refuse to pay his water charge.
Although King still topped the poll on the first count at 30.3%, Murphy himself was shocked by his tally of 27.2% more votes than Fianna Fail at 8.6%, Fine Gael at 8.8% and Labour at 8.5%.
Both candidates received more first preference votes than the three established parties combines. Murphy was elected seven counts later on the back of transfers
These results could be dismissed by the establishment as an anti-government vote. However, it also confirms the trend identified in last May’s European and Local elections. The old ‘to and a half’ party system of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour is breaking down, and 40-50% of the entire electorate rejects the established parties altogether.
2016 will be the year of the next general election. This will prove to be historic in more ways than one.
By Tomás M. Creamer