The next Irish general election must take place no later than 8 April 2016. The election will be called following the dissolution of the 31st Dáil by the President, at the request of the Taoiseach. The electorate will elect the members of the 32nd Dáil who will assemble shortly afterwards to elect a Taoiseach following agreement on the Government of the 32nd Dáil.

Date

The current statutory framework for the setting of a date for polling day in the general election is set out in the Electoral Act 1992 (as amended). Section 33 of that Act requires that the Dáil be dissolved within five years after its first meeting following the previous election, which was on 9 March 2011. Section 96 requires that the poll is held, not earlier than the seventeenth day or later than the twenty-fifth day, following the day on which the writs for the election are issued; this count does not include “excluded” days, such as Sundays, Bank Holidays, or Good Friday. The writs for the election are issued by the Clerk of the Dáil on the day the Dáil is dissolved. With these restrictions, the Dáil must be dissolved no later than Tuesday 9 March 2016, and the next general election must take place no later than Friday 8 April 2016.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny suggested at a press conference in September 2013 that the next election would be in March 2016. This was in the context of speculation that the Labour Party was unhappy with the coalition government’s progress and might consider withdrawing and forcing an early election. The days around Easter Sunday on 27 March 2016 will be the culmination of the official commemoration of the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, and there has been speculation that the election would be earlier to avoid clashing with these. Another factor is that Saint Patrick’s Day, 17 March, traditionally sees most ministers make official trips abroad. In June 2015, amid speculation that the election would be in the autumn, Kenny said it would be when the government’s programme was completed.

Electoral system

Ireland uses proportional representation with a single transferable vote (PR–STV). The general election will take place throughout the state to elect 158 members of Dáil Éireann, a reduction of 8 from the current 166 members. This follows the passing of the Electoral (Amendment) (Dáil Constituencies) Act 2013. The Ceann Comhairle is automatically re-elected unless he opts to retire from the Dáil. The election will take place in 40 parliamentary constituencies. Each multi-member constituency returns no fewer than three, and no more than five Teachtaí Dála (Dáil deputies).

Background

The current government (since 9 March 2011) consists of a Fine Gael–Labour Party coalition headed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton. Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, People Before Profit Alliance, Socialist Party, Workers and Unemployed Action Group, and independents form the opposition in the Dáil.(wikipedia)

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