1951 Irish general election

← 1948 30 May 1951 1954 →

146 of 147 seats in Dáil Éireann
74 seats needed for a majority
Turnout75.3% Increase 1.1pp
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Éamon de Valera Richard Mulcahy William Norton
Party Fianna Fáil Fine Gael Labour
Leader since 26 March 1926 1944 1932
Leader's seat Clare Tipperary South Kildare
Last election 68 seats, 41.9% 31 seats, 19.8% 19 seats, 11.3%[1]
Seats before 66 32 19
Seats won 69 40 16
Seat change Increase3 Increase8 Decrease3
Percentage 46.3% 25.8% 11.4%
Swing Increase4.4% Increase6.0% Increase0.1%

  Fourth party Fifth party
Leader Joseph Blowick Seán MacBride
Party Clann na Talmhan Clann na Poblachta
Leader since 1944 1946
Leader's seat Mayo South Dublin South-West
Last election 7 seats, 5.5% 10 seats, 13.3%
Seats before 7 10
Seats won 6 2
Seat change Decrease1 Decrease8
Percentage 2.9% 4.1%
Swing Decrease2.6% Decrease9.2%

Percentage of seats gained by each of the five biggest parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.

Taoiseach before election

John A. Costello
Fine Gael

Taoiseach after election

Éamon de Valera
Fianna Fáil

The 1951 Irish general election was held on Wednesday, 30 May 1951 in 40 Dáil constituencies throughout Ireland for 147 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann.

This election was the first election since the declaration of the Republic of Ireland on 18 April 1949 under the terms of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, which automatically forced Ireland's withdrawal from the British Commonwealth.

The newly elected members of the 14th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 13 June. Éamon de Valera was appointed Taoiseach and formed the 6th Government of Ireland, a single-party minority Fianna Fáil government.


An Taoiseach John A. Costello inspects ranks of An Gárda Síochána in Glenties during the 1951 campaign
An Taoiseach John A. Costello inspects ranks of An Gárda Síochána in Glenties during the 1951 campaign

The general election of 1951 was caused by a number of crises within the First Inter-Party Government, most notably the Mother and Child Scheme. While the whole affair – which saw the resignation of the Minister for Health, Noel Browne – was not entirely to blame for the collapse of the government, it added to the disagreement between the various political parties. There were other problems facing the country, such as rising prices and balance-of-payments problems. Two farmer TDs withdrew their support for the government because of rising milk prices.

Although the First Inter-Party Government was now coming to an end, it had a number of achievements. It proved that the country could be led by a group other than Fianna Fáil. It also provided a fresh perspective after sixteen years of government by that party.

The coalition parties fought the general election on their record on government over the previous three years, while Fianna Fáil argued strongly against coalition governments.


Election to the 14th Dáil – 30 May 1951[2][3][4]
Party Leader Seats ± % of
First pref.
% FPv ±%
Fianna Fáil Éamon de Valera 69 +1 46.9 616,212 46.3 +4.4
Fine Gael Richard Mulcahy 40 +9 27.2 349,922 25.8 +6.0
Labour William Norton 16 –3[1] 10.9 151,828 11.4 +2.7
Clann na Talmhan Joseph Blowick 6 –1 4.1 38,872 2.9 –2.7
Clann na Poblachta Seán MacBride 2 –8 1.4 54,210 4.1 –9.1
Irish Workers' League Michael O'Riordan 0 New 0 295 0.0
Independent N/A 14 +3 9.5 127,234 9.6 +2.4
Spoilt votes 12,043
Total 147 0 100 1,350,616 100
Electorate/Turnout 1,785,144 75.7%

The election result was inconclusive. Fianna Fáil's support increased by 61,000 votes; however, the party only gained one extra seat. The coalition parties had mixed fortunes. Fine Gael were the big winners increasing to forty seats. The Labour Party had reunited in 1950, when the National Labour Party had merged back into the party but in spite of this the party lost seats. Clann na Poblachta was the big loser of the election. Three years earlier the party had been a big political threat but now the party was shattered.

Fianna Fáil did not enough seats to govern alone. However, the party was able to form a government with the support of Noel Browne, the sacked Minister for Health, and other Independent deputies.

Voting summary

First preference vote
Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael
Clann na Poblachta
Clann na Talmhan

Seats summary

Assembly seats
Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael
Clann na Talmhan
Clann na Poblachta

First-time TDs

Re-elected TDs

Outgoing TDs


  1. ^ a b The Labour Party and the National Labour Party had reunited since the previous election. The figures for the Labour Party are compared to the two parties' combined totals in the previous election.
  2. ^ "14th Dáil 1951 General Election". ElectionsIreland.org. Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  3. ^ "Dáil elections since 1918". ARK Northern Ireland. Archived from the original on 27 November 2020. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  4. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, pp1009-1017 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7