166 of 166 seats in Dáil Éireann
84 seats needed for a majority
Percentage of seats gained by each of the three major parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.
The 1997 Irish general election was held on Friday, 6 June. The 166 newly elected members of the 28th Dáil assembled on 26 June 1997 when a new Taoiseach and government were appointed.
The general election took place in 41 parliamentary constituencies throughout Ireland for 165 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann.
The 1997 general election saw the public offered a choice of two possible coalitions. The existing government was a coalition of Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Democratic Left – the so-called "Rainbow Coalition".
The outgoing Rainbow parties campaigned to re-elect the coalition and thus emphasized the working relationship that they had developed, running with the slogan 'Partnership That Works'. They claimed credit for a booming economy, improving social services and reforms such as the introduction of divorce. Despite this united front, each party fought its own campaign.
Fine Gael ran as a law and order party, drawing attention to the anti-crime policies it had put in place. Labour emphasised the number of campaign pledges it had managed to implement not only as part of the Rainbow government, but also during its coalition with Fianna Fail.
Fianna Fáil under Bertie Ahern had been restructuring itself after its turbulent period under Charles Haughey and Albert Reynolds. The party's central office gained control of candidate selection and modernised its campaigning strategy, especially concerning vote management and controlling transfers under Ireland's PR electoral system. In addition, the bitter internal feuding that had dogged the party for decades was ended by Ahern's more unifying style of leadership. This leadership also allowed Fianna Fáil to run a very energetic campaign that emphasised Ahern's relative youth and enthusiasm, which distanced the party from scandals that had beset the party.
Despite entering the election with polls suggesting they would overtake Labour as the third biggest party, and with Mary Harney as the most popular party leader, the Progressive Democrats struggled. Initially, it ran a presidential-style campaign that emphasized Harney. However, entering a pact with a resurgent Fianna Fáil meant it struggled to assert itself. In response, the PDs hastily published a manifesto — a move that backfired as it controversially called for single parent benefit to be cut in order to encourage single mothers to live with their parents. This drew fire from Pronsias De Rossa, who claimed Harney did "not have a bull's notion about social welfare".
|Irish Times/MRBI||7 June||44||27||8||4||3||3||11|
|Independent Newspapers-IMS||2 June||44||29||9||5||2||3||6|
|Irish Times/MRBI||28 May||42||26||11||7||2||4||8|
|Independent Newspapers-IMS||29 May||40||29||11||6||2||4||8|
|Independent Newspapers-IMS||26 May||41||26||10||5||2||4||12|
|Irish Times/MRBI||20 May||43||26||10||7||2||3||9|
|Irish Times/MRBI||5 May||43||26||12||8||2||3||6|
|Party||Fianna Fáil||Fine Gael||Labour Party||Progressive Democrats||Green Party||Sinn Féin||Democratic Left||Socialist Party|
|Leader||Bertie Ahern||John Bruton||Dick Spring||Mary Harney||—||Gerry Adams||Proinsias De Rossa||Joe Higgins|
|Votes||39.3%, 703,682||27.9%, 499,936||10.4%, 186,044||4.7%, 83,765||2.8%, 49,323||2.5%, 45,614||2.5%, 44,901||0.7%, 12,445|
|Seats||77 (46.4%)||54 (32.5%)||17 (10.2%)||4 (2.4%)||2 (1.2%)||1 (0.6%)||4 (2.4%)||1 (0.6%)|
|Fianna Fáil||PD||Inds||Fine Gael||Labour||DL|
|Election to the 28th Dáil – 6 June 1997|
|Fianna Fáil||Bertie Ahern||77||10||46.4||703,682||39.3||0.2|
|Fine Gael||John Bruton||54||9||32.5||499,936||27.9||3.4|
|Progressive Democrats||Mary Harney||4||6||2.4||83,765||4.7||±0.0|
|Sinn Féin||Gerry Adams||1||1||0.6||45,614||2.5||0.9|
|Democratic Left||Proinsias De Rossa||4||0||2.4||44,901||2.5||0.3|
|Catholic Democrats||Nora Bennis||0||New||0||19,077||1.1||New|
|Socialist Party||Joe Higgins||1||New||0.6||12,445||0.7||New|
|Christian Solidarity||Gerard Casey||0||New||0||8,357||0.5||New|
|Workers' Party||Tom French||0||0||0||7,808||0.4||0.3|
|Natural Law Party||N/A||0||New||0||1,515||0.1||New|
|South Kerry Independent Alliance||0||New||0||1,388||0.1||New|
The outgoing Ceann Comhairle retired at this election. Independents include Independent Fianna Fáil (11,607 votes, 1 seat).
The following changes took place as a result of the election:
Outgoing TDs are listed in the constituency they contested in the election. For some, such as Kildare North, this differs from the constituency they represented in the outgoing Dáil. Where more than one change took place in a constituency the concept of successor is an approximation for presentation only.
|Constituency||Departing TD||Party||Change||Comment||Successor TD||Party|
|Carlow–Kilkenny||M. J. Nolan||Fianna Fáil||Lost seat||John McGuinness||Fianna Fáil|
|Cavan–Monaghan||Jimmy Leonard||Fianna Fáil||Retired||Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin||Sinn Féin|
|Clare||Moosajee Bhamjee||Labour Party||Retired||Daly – Former TD||Brendan Daly||Fianna Fáil|
|Cork East||John Mulvihill||Labour Party||Lost seat||David Stanton||Fine Gael|
|Cork North-Central||Kathleen Lynch||Democratic Left||Lost seat||Noel O'Flynn||Fianna Fáil|
|Máirín Quill||Progressive Democrats||Lost seat||Billy Kelleher||Fianna Fáil|
|Cork North-West||Frank Crowley||Fine Gael||Lost seat||Michael Moynihan||Fianna Fáil|
|Cork South-Central||Peter Barry||Fine Gael||Retired||Deirdre Clune||Fine Gael|
|Toddy O'Sullivan||Labour Party||Lost seat||Dennehy – Former TD||John Dennehy||Fianna Fáil|
|Cork South-West||No membership changes|
|Donegal North-East||Paddy Harte||Fine Gael||Lost seat||Harry Blaney||Ind. Fianna Fáil|
|Donegal South-West||Pat "the Cope" Gallagher||Fianna Fáil||Retired||Tom Gildea||Independent|
|Dublin Central||Joe Costello||Labour Party||Lost seat||Marian McGennis||Fianna Fáil|
|Dublin North||Seán Ryan||Labour Party||Lost seat||Wright – Former TD||G. V. Wright||Fianna Fáil|
|Dublin North-Central||No membership changes|
|Dublin North-East||Seán Kenny||Labour Party||Lost seat||Cosgrave – Former TD||Michael Joe Cosgrave||Fine Gael|
|Liam Fitzgerald||Fianna Fáil||Lost seat||Martin Brady||Fianna Fáil|
|Dublin North-West||Mary Flaherty||Fine Gael||Lost seat||Pat Carey||Fianna Fáil|
|Dublin South||Eithne FitzGerald||Labour Party||Lost seat||Olivia Mitchell||Fine Gael|
|Dublin South-Central||Eric Byrne||Democratic Left||Lost seat||Seán Ardagh||Fianna Fáil|
|Dublin South-East||Michael McDowell||Progressive Democrats||Lost seat||John Gormley||Green Party|
|Dublin South-West||Eamonn Walsh||Labour Party||Lost seat||Conor Lenihan||Fianna Fáil|
|Mervyn Taylor||Labour Party||Retired||Brian Hayes||Fine Gael|
|Dublin West||Joan Burton||Labour Party||Lost seat||Joe Higgins||Socialist Party|
|Dún Laoghaire||Niamh Bhreathnach||Labour Party||Lost seat||Mary Hanafin||Fianna Fáil|
|Helen Keogh||Progressive Democrats||Lost seat||Barnes – Former TD||Monica Barnes||Fine Gael|
|Galway East||New seat||Ulick Burke||Fine Gael|
|Galway West||Máire Geoghegan-Quinn||Fianna Fáil||Retired||Fahey – Former TD||Frank Fahey||Fianna Fáil|
|Kerry North||No membership changes|
|Kerry South||John O'Leary||Fianna Fáil||Retired||Jackie Healy-Rae||Independent|
|Kildare North||No membership changes|
|Kildare South||New constituency, new seat||Jack Wall||Labour Party|
|Laois–Offaly||Liam Hyland||Fianna Fáil||Retired||Seán Fleming||Fianna Fáil|
|Pat Gallagher||Labour Party||Lost seat||Enright – Former TD||Tom Enright||Fine Gael|
|Ger Connolly||Fianna Fáil||Retired||John Moloney||Fianna Fáil|
|Limerick East||Peadar Clohessy||Progressive Democrats||Retired||Eddie Wade||Fianna Fáil|
|Limerick West||Gerry Collins||Fianna Fáil||Retired||Michael Collins||Fianna Fáil|
|Michael J. Noonan||Fianna Fáil||Retired||Dan Neville||Fine Gael|
|Longford–Roscommon||John Connor||Fine Gael||Lost seat||Denis Naughten||Fine Gael|
|Tom Foxe||Independent||Lost seat||Belton – Former TD||Louis Belton||Fine Gael|
|Louth||No membership changes|
|Mayo||P. J. Morley||Fianna Fáil||Lost seat||Beverley Flynn||Fianna Fáil|
|Séamus Hughes||Fianna Fáil||Lost seat||Constituency reduced to 5 seats|
|Meath||Colm Hilliard||Fianna Fáil||Retired||Johnny Brady||Fianna Fáil|
|Brian Fitzgerald||Labour Party||Lost seat||Farrelly – Former TD||John V. Farrelly||Fine Gael|
|Sligo–Leitrim||Ted Nealon||Fine Gael||Retired||John Perry||Fine Gael|
|Declan Bree||Labour Party||Lost seat||Reynolds – Former TD||Gerry Reynolds||Fine Gael|
|Tipperary North||John Ryan||Labour Party||Retired||O'Kennedy – Former TD||Michael O'Kennedy||Fianna Fáil|
|Tipperary South||Seán Treacy||Labour Party||Retired||Constituency seats from 4 to 3|
|Waterford||No membership changes|
|Westmeath||No membership changes|
|Wexford||Avril Doyle||Fine Gael||Lost seat||D'Arcy – Former TD||Michael D'Arcy||Fine Gael|
|Wicklow||Godfrey Timmins||Fine Gael||Retired||Billy Timmins||Fine Gael|
|Liam Kavanagh||Labour Party||Lost seat||Roche – Former TD||Dick Roche||Fianna Fáil|
Following the election none of the major parties had a clear majority. Negotiations resulted in a Fianna Fáil–Progressive Democrats coalition taking office. Four Independent Teachta Dála (TDs) also supported the government ensuring an overall majority. Bertie Ahern became the Taoiseach while Mary Harney of the Progressive Democrats became Tánaiste.
Although Fine Gael gained seats, it crossed the Dáil chamber to the Opposition benches. Fianna Fáil also increased its representation, but the Progressive Democrats had a disastrous election, maintaining its share of the vote, but winning only four seats compared to ten at the previous election, losing seats thought safe such as Cork North-Central and Dún Laoghaire.
The Green Party won a second seat, with John Gormley elected in Dublin South-East. He was elected by just over 30 votes after a recount lasting four days saw Progressive Democrat Michael McDowell defeated.
The main feature of the election, however, was the collapse of the Labour Party vote. Not only did it lose seats it had picked up in the 1992 general election, when its vote was an at all-time high – such as in Clare and Laois–Offaly – but it also lost reasonably safe seats, such as in Dublin North, Dublin Central and Cork South-Central. Dick Spring would later retire as leader of the Labour Party.
Democratic Left also suffered, losing its two gains made in by-elections during the 27th Dáil. Sinn Féin made its debut in the Dáil for the first time since 1957), with the party winning a seat in the Cavan–Monaghan constituency with the election of Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. It also narrowly missed a seat in Kerry North. The Socialist Party, a Trotskyist party which consisted of former members of the Labour Party expelled in 1989, won its first seat in the Dublin West constituency.