In Ireland, the election of the upper house, the Seanad, always takes place just after the election for the lower house, the Dáil. The Seanad election was concluded at the end of last week.
The Seanad is not popularly elected. It is a leftover from a time when vocational representation was in vogue. There are 60 senators, 43 of which are indirectly elected by five vocational panels (agriculture, culture and education, industry and commerce, labour, and administration). These senators are elected by an electoral college comprising TDs (deputies), members of the outgoing Seanad and local councillors. In addition, 6 senators are elected by graduates of the two main universities and the remaining 11 senators are personally appointed by the PM, or Taoiseach.
The election of the 49 indirectly elected senators has been completed. This is the party breakdown:
Fine Gael 18 seats (up 4)
Fianna Fáil 14 seats (down 8)
Labour 9 seats (up 3)
Sinn Féin 3 seats (up 2)
Others 5 seats – all from the university panels (down 1)
The Taoiseach will make known his 11 nominees very soon.
The new government is committed to abolishing the Seanad. This will require a referendum.