138 seats in Dáil Éireann[a]
70 seats needed for a majority
Percentage of seats gained by each of the five biggest parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.
The 1944 Irish general election was held on Tuesday, 30 May, having been called on 9 May by President Douglas Hyde on the advice of Taoiseach Éamon de Valera. The general election took place in 34 parliamentary constituencies for 138 seats in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas (parliament). Fianna Fáil won an overall majority, and when the newly elected members of the 12th Dáil assembled on 9 June, de Valera was re-appointed as Taoiseach at the head of a majority government.
The outgoing Fianna Fáil government was a minority government. Following a defeat for the second reading of its Transport Bill, Taoiseach Éamon de Valera called a snap election, just one year after the previous election, in hopes of getting an overall majority. The campaign was not wanted by the opposition parties. Fianna Fáil fought the election on its record in government and also in the hope of securing a fresh mandate for its policies. During the campaign Fine Gael put forward the proposal of forming a coalition government with the Labour Party and Clann na Talmhan; however, this was ridiculed by Fianna Fáil as untenable. A split in the Labour movement meant that the party was by no means ready to fight an election.
Due to the fractured nature of the opposition, Éamon de Valera's tactic of calling a snap general election succeeded, as it had in 1933 and 1938.
The election was fought while the Emergency Powers Act 1939 was still in force and under the terms of the General Elections (Emergency Provisions) Act 1943, which allowed a general election to be called without a dissolution of the 11th Dáil.
The Constitution requires the President to dissolve the Dáil before a general election; however, this procedure was overridden by the General Elections (Emergency Provisions) Act 1943. The Act, which would have been unconstitutional if not for the state of emergency in effect during World War II, was intended to increase national security by minimising the interval during which no Dáil is in existence. The election was called on 9 May but the Dáil met as scheduled on the following day, when an adjournment debate was held in which the opposition TDs condemned the decision to hold an election in wartime as unnecessary and reckless. The 11th Dáil was dissolved on 7 June 1944.
|Election to the 12th Dáil – 30 May 1944|
|Fianna Fáil||Éamon de Valera||76[a]||+9||55.1||595,259||48.9||+7.0|
|Fine Gael||Richard Mulcahy||30||–2||21.8||249,329||20.5||–2.6|
|Clann na Talmhan||Joseph Blowick||9||–1||6.5||122,745||10.1||+0.3|
|National Labour Party||James Everett||4||New||2.9||32,732||2.7||–|
|Monetary Reform Party||Oliver J. Flanagan||1||0||0.7||9,856||0.8||+0.5|
|Ailtirí na hAiséirghe||0||0||0||5,809||0.5||+0.3|
Fianna Fáil formed the 4th Government of Ireland, a majority government.
I did not ask for a dissolution of the Dáil. This Dáil would not have been meeting to-day if there had been a dissolution. ... I did not ask for a dissolution, because we passed an Act last year to enable the Dáil, during this critical period, to be brought together at any time that there was need for doing so, so that the Executive at any time would have to assemble the Dáil in case there was any national issue that demanded its assembly. ... when the Dáil adjourns now it will not meet again unless there is some national issue which makes it necessary to call the Dáil together.