How to win a Seanad seat (hint: it’s all about who you know…)

If anyone needed a reason to reform the Seanad the inscrutable series of panel elections this week by an electorate many of the successful candidates were not even permitted to be part of was it. Noel Whelan explains how to win…

They are essentially database elections. Winning a seat is not so much about a candidate’s policy or even profile but about their capacity to mine the list of graduates registered to vote for the relevant colleges and find a means to reach them. Incumbents have a massive advantage because they and their staff can focus, usually for five years, on identifying supporters who are already registered or getting supporters on to the register.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • chrisjones2

    Doest this sound spookily reminiscent of Stormont pre 1970

    Perhaps Ireland needs a Civil Rights Movement

  • Neil

    Doest this sound spookily reminiscent of Stormont pre 1970

    Nope, not even slightly.

  • Jag

    This has been a good Seanad election for FG (10 plus they’ll have 11 Taoiseach nominations), SF (7, around one up from what they expected, and a full sweep, I think they could have stood another couple of candidates and brought them home as well). Not so good for FF with 13, they might have expected another 3-4.

    FG+FF should have 34 of the 60 seats, which will mean the Opposition can’t delay legislation. But some of those 34 will be bloody-minded.

    In the last parliament, SF had three senators, so they’ll be crowing at more than doubling their representation. And Padraig MacLoughlainn, the ex-TD who lost his seat from the clownish vote management strategy in Donegal is back. Still though, with just 7 out of 60 seats, it’s not all that great, and most of the support is coming from the local councillors elected in 2014 when the economy was still just getting up off its knees.

  • Gingray

    Um, no. People elect councillors and TDs who in turn, along with former Senators, vote for 44 of the 60 seats. 11 are nominated by the Taoiseach and 6 voted for by former students at Trinity and NUI.

    Its convoluted, and needs major reform, but ensures a broad based view.

  • Gingray


    If FF abstain, then FG will still need a few votes (they will have 21 of the 47, need at least another 3, maybe slightly more). Could be interesting enough

  • Gingray

    Mick, is this the Seanad election review you had promised? Bit sparse 🙂

    As usual, Adrian Kavanagh has a fantastic overview.

  • Kevin Breslin

    So networking then?