Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party, is a conservative political party in Ireland. The party was founded as an Irish republican party on 23 March 1926 by Éamon de Valera and his supporters after they split from Sinn Féin on the issue of abstentionism, in the aftermath of the Irish Civil War. Fianna Fáil has since 1927 been one of Ireland's two major parties, along with Fine Gael; the party dominated Irish political life for most of the 20th century, since its foundation either it or Fine Gael has led every government. Between 1989 and 2011, it led coalition governments with parties of the right. Fianna Fáil was last in government from 1997 to 2011 under Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen, with a periodic high of 81 seats in 2002, reduced to 77 in 2007 and to 20 in 2011, the lowest in the party's history. Having won 44 seats at the 2016 general election, Fianna Fáil is the largest Opposition party in both houses of the Oireachtas, with party leader Micheál Martin entering into a confidence and supply arrangement with a Fine Gael-led minority government at the beginning of the 32nd Dáil.
Fianna Fáil is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and of Liberal International. Since 9 February 2019, Fianna Fáil has been in partnership with the Social Democratic and Labour Party in Northern Ireland. Fianna Fáil was founded by a former leader of Sinn Féin, he and a number of other members split from Sinn Féin when a motion he proposed—which called for elected members to be allowed to take their seats in Dáil Éireann if and when the controversial Oath of Allegiance was removed—failed to pass at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in 1926. The party adopted its name on 2 April of the same year. While it was opposed to the Treaty settlement, it rejected abstentionism, instead aiming to republicanise the Irish Free State from within. Fianna Fáil's platform of economic autarky had appeal among the farmers, working-class people and the poor, while alienating more affluent classes; the party first entered government on 9 March 1932. It was in power for 61 of the 79 years between and the election of 2011.
Its longest continuous period in office has been 11 months. Its longest single period out of office in the 20th century was four months. Seven of the party's eight leaders have served as Taoiseach. Fianna Fáil joined the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe party on 16 April 2009, the party's Members of the European Parliament sat in the ALDE Group during the 7th European Parliament term from June 2009 to 1 July 2014; the party is an observer affiliate of the Liberal International. It was the largest party in the Dáil after every general election from that of 1932 until that of 2007. In the 2011 general election it suffered the worst defeat of a sitting government in the history of the Irish state; this loss was described as "historic" in its proportions, "unthinkable". The party sank from being the largest in the Dáil to the third-largest. Fianna Fáil's success was credited by The Irish Times to its local structure; the basic unit was the cumann. At the party's height it had an average of 75 per constituency.
The party claimed 55,000 members in 2004, a figure which political scientist Eoin O'Malley considers exaggerated compared to membership figures for other parties. However, from the early 1990s onward; every cumann was entitled to three votes to selection conventions irrespective of its size. Another problem had arisen with the emergence of parallel organisations grouped around candidates or elected officials. Supporters and election workers for a particular candidate were loyal to a candidate and not to the party. If the candidate were to leave the party, through either resignation, retirement or defeat at an election, the candidate's supporters would depart. Although this phenomenon was nothing new it increased from the early 1990s in the Dublin Region with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's "Drumcondra mafia" and the groups supporting Tom Kitt and Séamus Brennan in Dublin South that were separate from the official party structure. Since the 2007 election, the party's structure has weakened; this was in part exacerbated by significant infighting between candidates in the run-up to the 2011 general election.
The Irish Times estimated that half of its 3,000 cumainn were moribund. This fraction rose in Dublin with the exception of Dublin West, the former seat of both Brian Lenihan Snr and Brian Lenihan Jnr. Fianna Fáil is seen as a typical catch-all party. R. Ken Carty wrote of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that they were'heterogeneous in their bases of support undifferentiated in terms of policy or programme, remarkably stable in their support levels'. Evidence from expert surveys, opinion polls and candidate surveys all fail to identify strong distinctions between the two parties. Many point to Ireland's Civil War politics, feel that the ba
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, principal chamber, of the Oireachtas, which includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann. It consists of 158 members, known as Teachta Dála. TDs represent 40 constituencies, are directly elected at least once every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote, its powers are similar to those of lower houses under many other bicameral parliamentary systems and it is by far the dominant branch of the Oireachtas. Subject to the limits imposed by the Constitution of Ireland, it has power to pass any law it wishes, to nominate and remove the Taoiseach. Since 1922, it has met in Leinster House in Dublin; the name Dáil Éireann is taken from the Irish language but is the official title of the body in both English and Irish, including both language versions of the Irish constitution. Since the Dáil was first established in 1919, it has been described variously as a "National Assembly", a "Chamber of Deputies" and a "House of Representatives".
A dáil means an assembly or parliament, so a literal translation of Dáil Éireann is "Assembly of Ireland". Article 15 of Ireland's constitution describes the body as "a House of Representatives to be called Dáil Éireann". In common usage, the word Dáil is accompanied by the definite article. So one speaks of "the Dáil" but not "the Dáil Éireann"; the plural Dálaí is used. Dáil Éireann has 158 members. Under current legislation, members are directly elected at least once in every five years by the people of Ireland under a system of proportional representation known as the single transferable vote. Membership of the Dáil is open to Irish citizens. A member of the Dáil is known as a Teachta TD or Deputy; the Dáil electorate consists of Irish and British citizens over 18 years of age who are registered to vote in Ireland. Under the Constitution a general election for Dáil Éireann must occur once in every seven years, an earlier maximum of five years is set by the Electoral Act, 1992; the Taoiseach can, by making a request to the president dissolve the Dáil at any time, in which case a general election must occur within thirty days.
The President may refuse to dissolve the Dáil, ask the Dáil to form an alternative government without a general election taking place. The STV electoral system broadly produces proportional representation in the Dáil; the small size of the constituencies used, however gives a small advantage to the larger parties and under-represents smaller parties. Since the 1990s the norm in the state has been coalition governments. Prior to 1989, one-party government by the Fianna Fáil party was common; the multi-seat constituencies required by STV mean that candidates must compete for election with others from the same party. This is accused by some of producing TDs who are excessively parochial. Two failed attempts – 1959 and 1968 – have been made to change to the United Kingdom's plurality voting system electoral system. Both were rejected in referendums. By-elections occur under the alternative vote system; every constituency elects between three and five TDs. The constitution specifies that no constituency may return fewer than three TDs but does not specify any upper limit to constituency magnitude.
However, statute specifies a maximum of five seats per constituency. The constitution requires that constituency boundaries be reviewed at least once in every twelve years, so that boundaries may be redrawn to accommodate changes in population. Boundary changes are drafted by an independent commission, its recommendations are followed. Malapportionment is forbidden by the constitution. Under the Constitution, the commission is required to refer to the most recent Census of Ireland when considering boundary changes. Under the Constitution of Ireland there must never be fewer than one TD for every thirty thousand of the population, nor more than one for every twenty thousand. In the 29th Dáil there was one TD for every 25,000 citizens, in line with many other European Union member state national parliament ratios with Malta having one MP for every 6,000 citizens and Spain having one MP for every 130,000 citizens. Ireland has a similar MP to Citizen ratio to Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia and Sweden.
With the adoption of the current constitution in 1937 the membership of the Dáil was reduced from 153 to 138, but in the 1960s the number was increased to 144 for the 1977 election to 148, only to be increased more in 1981 to the figure of 166. The Electoral Act 2011 provides that the number of members "shall be not less than 153 and not more than 160"; this came into effect at the 2016 general election. The Dáil chamber has confrontational benches but the end segment is curved to create a partial hemicycle; the government TDs sit with the main opposition party on his right. The Chamber was adapted for use as a Parliament from its former use as a lecture theatre; the First Dáil Éireann was established on 21 January 1919 as the single chamber parliament of th