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|ElectionsIreland.org > Latest News > 2004 Presidential Election|
Monday 13 September 2004 (Updated 1 October)
President Mary McAleese returned unopposed
Although a date had been set provisionally for Friday 22 October for the 2004 Presidential Election, when nominations closed at noon on Friday 1 October there was only one candidate who had been nominated. The current incumbent Mary McAleese announced her nomination at a press conference on Tuesday 14 September. Her first term of office ended on 22 November, and she was eligible to stand for one further seven year term. A retiring president has only had their re-election challenged once, when Thomas O'Higgins stood unsuccessfully against Eamon de Valera in 1966 and lost by less than 1% of the vote.
The Constitution of Ireland requires that an election for the office of president must be held in the 60 days before the expiry of the current term. Former or retiring presidents may become candidates on their own nomination (apart from Mary McAleese the only other person able to do this was former president Mary Robinson who resigned one month short of the end of her first term in 1997 in order to become High Commissioner for Human Rights with the United Nations). Other candidates require nomination by twenty members of the Oireachtas (TDs or Senators) or by four county councils.
President McAleese stated she would stand as an independent candidate, although she was endorsed by both Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats. Fine Gael announced they would not be running a candidate against her. No other candidates succeeded in being nominated,
Six of the twelve Presidential Elections have been uncontested. Of Ireland's eight Presidents, only four have sought a second term. Sean T O'Kelly was returned unopposed for his second term in 1952, and Dr Patrick Hillery was the only candidate for both his terms in 1976 and 1983. Eamon de Valera faced a Fine Gael opponent in 1959 and 1966. Mary McAleese was returned unopposed in 2004.
Labour TDs and Senators decided not to run a candidate, although Galway West TD Michael D Higgins indicated he would have liked to stand. However, after a meeting of the Labour National Executive on Thursday 16 September it was decided not to run a Labour candidate for the Presidency.
The Green Party initially confirmed that it was seeking twenty members of the Oireachtas to support Dublin South TD Eamon Ryan. But at a meeting of the party's National Executive in Co Cork on Saturday 18 September, Ryan announced he was withdrawing his name due to difficulties in obtaining the necessary support for his nomination and after consideration of the resources that would be required to run an effective presidential campaign.
Dana Rosemary Scallon confirmed she had written to every county council seeking support for the 2004 election. She failed in her attempt to get the backing of Mayo and Sligo County Councils (Monday 13 September), Kerry, Longford, Monaghan, Offaly and Tipperary North Riding County Councils (Monday 20 September) and Donegal, Galway, Kildare, Limerick, Roscommon and Westmeath County Councils and Cork and Limerick City Councils (Monday 27 September). Galway City Council supported her nomination by 7 votes to 5 with 1 abstention. In a last minute change of tactics, Dana said she was seeking a nomination from members of the Oireachtas, but only independent Senator Shane Ross was prepared to sign her nomination papers in time.
No nominations materialised for heritage campaigner Vincent Salafia, Public Relations Officer for a group campaigning against the construction of the M3 in Co Meath, who announced on 20 September that he intended to stand as an independent candidate.
Click here for detailed results from Presidential Elections since 1938.
1997 Presidential Nominations
The route of county councils to nominate candidates was unused until the 1997 Presidential Election, when Dana Rosemary Scallon surprised many people by gaining the nominations of Donegal, Wicklow, Kerry, Longford and Tipperary North in a single day (Monday 15th September). Derek Nally was also nominated by Clare (Friday 26 September), Wexford, Carlow, Kildare and South Dublin County Councils (all on Monday 29 September), although Galway County (Tuesday 23 September) Cork County, Meath, Kilkenny and Louth declined to support his nomination (all on Monday 29 September).
The other candidates in the 1997 election were nominated by members of the Oireachtas and were endorsed by political parties - Mary Banotti by Fine Gael, Mary McAleese by Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats, and Adi Roche (16 September) by Labour, Democratic Left and the Greens.
Fine Gael chose between Avril Doyle and Mary Banotti for their 1997 candidate in a vote that was believed to be close. Mary McAleese was chosen as the Fianna Fáil candidate in a contest with former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and Michael O'Kennedy, a former EU Commissioner and cabinet minister, both sitting TDs. In the first round, voting was Reynolds 49, McAleese 42, Kennedy 21. In the second round, after one of Albert Reynold's supporters had to leave, Mary McAleese won with 62 votes to 48.
Click here for the results of the 1997 Presidential Election.
|©2004 Christopher Took
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