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Ireland - Presidential Election

Mary Patricia McAleese, the sole candidate for succession is re-elected president of the Republic of Ireland for a period of seven years

Mary Patricia McAleese, the sole candidate for succession is re-elected president of the Republic of Ireland for a period of seven years

01/10/2004 - Results

The present Head of State, Mary Patricia McAleese, the only candidate as leader of the Irish State on closure of the nominations on Friday 1 October at midday, was re-elected President of the Republic of Ireland for a seven year period.

"I am happy to have been elected although I had been prepared for a difficult electoral campaign. Seven years ago I promised to be the President for the entire population and to build bridges between the different communities in Irish society - I intend to continue this role and to see that it through to fulfil its potential," she declared.

"I am happy that for the next seven years we shall have the same President whose charisma and numerous talents no longer have to be proven," confirmed Prime Minister Bertie Ahern (Fianna Fail).

Fifty-three year old, Mary Patricia McAleese, the first woman President of the Republic and originally from Northern Ireland, is now also the third to undertake to consecutive mandates - the last one being Eamon de Valera who was in office from 1959 to 1973.

Professor of Law at Trinity College Dublin and then at the Queen's University in Belfast, Mary Patricia McAleese was elected on 30 October 1997 as a Fianna Fail candidate (Soldiers of Destiny in Gaelic), a centre-right movement that is in power at present. This year she stood as an independent candidate. During her first mandate Ms McAleese worked hard towards making Ireland a true land of welcome by trying to bring together the various populations living in the country. Although the 1937 Constitution (Bunreacht na hEireann) does not provide the President with any real power she has also always followed very closely and has greatly encouraged the process of reconciliation and peace between the Catholic and Protestant Irish living in the Northern party of the island. In 1998, she provoked a mini diplomatic incident by taking communion in an Anglican church.

The President of the Republic of Ireland who is simply a representative figure in the country is elected for a seven year mandate that can only be renewed once. The position is open to any Irish citizen aged at least thirty-five. Any candidate aspiring to the supreme office in Ireland must have the signature of 20 members of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) or the support of at least four county councillors. The former Presidents (or the outgoing President) are the only ones exempt of this obligation. In 1997 two candidates, Derek Nally and Dana Rosemary Scallon, became candidates with the support of the counties, a first in the country's history.

After various contradictory declarations the Labour Party (LP) decided not to put a candidate forward in the presidential election, likewise the country's main opposition party, Fine Gael. Two people did however say they wanted to stand before the electorate on 22 October next, the date planned for the presidential election if there were several candidates able to run. These were Eamon Ryan, MP for the Greens (GA-GP), and Dana Rosemary Scallon, a born again Christian, former Euro MP and unfortunate candidate in the preceding presidential election when she finished in third place after the first round, winning 13.8% of the vote. These two candidates did not however succeed in finding the obligatory support in order to stand for the supreme office.

Dana Rosemary Scallon, who is especially famous for having won the Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland in 1970, was really sorry not to be able to run. "I am disappointed that democracy is not better protected. The President of the Republic must be elected by the people; it is not up to the political parties to decide whether there will be an election or not," she declared on October 1.

Mary Patricia McAleese, who, according to the opinion polls, three quarters of the Irish wanted to maintain as Head of State will be re-appointed at the Aras an Uachtarain, the home of the Irish Presidents on 11 November next.

Reminder of the Presidential Election Results on 30 October 1997

Participation rate: 47,6%

Source Ireland today
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
The authors
Corinne Deloy
Author of the European Elections Monitor (EEM) for the Robert Schuman Foundation and project manager at the Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po).
Fondation Robert Schuman
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