Ireland flag Ireland: Economic and Political Overview

The political framework of Ireland

Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Michael D. Higgins (since 29 October 2011, re-elected in October 2018)
Prime Minister: Leo Varadkar (since 16 December 2022)
Next Election Dates
Presidential elections: November 2025
Senate: March 2025
House of Representatives: March 2025
Current Political Context
The existing coalition government, composed of three parties namely Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party, with the first two historically at odds, assumed power in June 2020 following four months of negotiations. An agreement was reached stipulating that Micheál Martin, leader of Fianna Fáil (centre), would serve as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) for the initial portion of the tenure, after which Leo Varadkar (Fine Gael, centre-right) would assume the position. The transition was finalized in December 2022, and the arrangement has remained generally stable since then.
The Northern Ireland Protocol triggered an election in Northern Ireland in 2022, prompted by the resignation of the sitting First Minister, Paul Givan of the Democratic Unionist Party, in protest over the Protocol. This resulted in Northern Irish Sinn Féin securing 29% of the votes, marking the first instance in history where they became the largest party. Sinn Féin now holds the distinction of being the largest party in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This development, coupled with Brexit and demographic shifts, has sparked increased discussions about the potential for a referendum on Irish unification, though an actual vote is generally considered plausible in 5-10 years, with the majority in Northern Ireland still opposed to it. The Windsor framework, announced in February 2023, has notably improved relations between Ireland and the UK, promising enhanced trade prospects. Nonetheless, the suspension of the Stormont Assembly, the devolved legislature of Northern Ireland, underscores persisting political tensions in the region.
Main Political Parties
The main parties currently represented in the parliament include:

- Fianna Fail: centre/centre-right, populist
- Fine Gael: centre-right, socially moderate and fiscally conservative. Allied with Fianna Fail
- Sinn Fein: left-wing, democratic socialist and Irish republican party advocating for a united Ireland. It is the main opposition party
- Labour: centre-left social-democratic party founded in 1912, advocating for workers' rights and social justice
- Green Party: centre-left, driven by green politics
- Social Democrats: centre-left party advocating for social justice and progressive social policies
- People Before Profit–Solidarity (PBPS): a left-wing electoral alliances formed by members of two socialist political parties: People Before Profit (PBP) and Solidarity.

- Independent Ireland: promoting non-affiliated, grassroots-driven governance and policies in Ireland
- Aontú (Unity): conservative nationalist party promoting traditional values and advocating for Irish unity
- Right to Change: left-wing, focusing on social and economic justice, grassroots activism, and progressive policies.
Executive Power
The President, who serves as the Head of State in a largely ceremonial role, is elected for a 7-year term and can be re-elected only once. The Prime Minister (Taoiseach) is the Head of the Government. He is appointed by the president after being appointed by the lower house.
Legislative Power
Bicameral national Parliament (Oireachtas): House of Representatives (Dail) and Senate (Seanad). The Chamber of Deputies has 166 members elected by universal suffrage and the Senate is composed of 60 members (one part elected by the national universities and the other part by a representative panel of the civil society).
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
12/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
1/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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Latest Update: February 2024