By Evan Pereira | Ireland
Early Wednesday, Seán Gallagher, a household name in Ireland, threw his hat into the Presidential race. He will face off against nine other Independent candidates for nominations from at least four local authorities.
In 2011, Gallagher was a front-runner in the polls until controversy hit only days before election day. During a debate, he made comments referring back to when he accepted a check of €5,000 from businessman Hugh Moran. He called Moran a “convicted criminal and fuel smuggler” during the debate, but still took the money. This incident also involved the center-right former governing party, Fianna Fáil, which left the government in 2011 with record low approval ratings. Many see this debacle as the main reason Gallagher lost.
Gallagher and His Opponents
Last October, Sinn Féin, the largest left wing party in Ireland, announced their intention to run a candidate in October. So, it is now a guarantee that there will be a contested Presidential election. This will be only the second time in Irish history an incumbent had a challenger. The only other instance was in 1966, when Tom O’Higgins challenged Éamon de Valera. De Valera went onto win the election by 10,717 votes (~1%).
In 2011, Gallagher, an Independent candidate with significant backing from the disgraced but still powerful Fianna Fáil party, came in second place with 628,114 votes (35.5%). The winner, then-TD (equivalent to a member of congress or parliament) Michael D. Higgins, bested Gallagher by 23%.
From senators to artists, Ireland’s presidential election will be an interesting affair. Though some are saying Michael D. Higgins has a clear path to victory, others think that it is not going to be that easy for him. Only time will tell.
The Irish presidential election will take place on Friday, October 26th, 2018.
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