1922 Irish general election

The 1922 Irish general election took place in Southern Ireland on 16 June 1922, under the provisions of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty to elect a constituent assembly paving the way for the formal establishment of the Irish Free State. In Irish political history, this served as the election to the Third Dáil; under the provisions of the treaty it was a provisional parliament replacing the parliament of Southern Ireland. From 6 December 1922, it was the Dáil Éireann of the Irish Free State.

1922 Irish general election

16 June 1922

All 128 seats in Dáil Éireann
65 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party
Leader Michael Collins Éamon de Valera
Party Sinn Féin (Pro-Treaty) Sinn Féin (Anti-Treaty)
Leader since 1922 1917
Leader's seat Cork Mid, etc. Clare
Seats won 58 36
Popular vote 239,195 135,310
Percentage 38.5% 21.8%

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Thomas Johnson Denis Gorey
Party Labour Party Farmers' Party
Leader since 1922 1922
Leader's seat Dublin County Carlow–Kilkenny
Seats won 17 7
Popular vote 132,565 48,718
Percentage 21.3% 7.8%

Percentage of seats gained by each of the three major parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.

Chairman of the Provisional
Government before election

Michael Collins
Sinn Féin (Pro-Treaty)

Subsequent Chairman of the
Provisional Government

Michael Collins
Sinn Féin (Pro-Treaty)

The election was under the electoral system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.[1]


In the 1921 elections, Sinn Féin had won all seats in uncontested elections, except for the four in the University of Dublin. On this occasion, however, most seats were contested. The treaty had divided the party between 65 pro-treaty candidates, 57 anti-treaty and 1 nominally on both sides. To minimise losses due to competition from other parties, Éamon de Valera and Michael Collins worked out a pact approved on 20 May 1922.[2] They agreed that the pro-treaty and anti-treaty factions would fight the general election jointly and form a coalition government afterwards. The sitting member would not be opposed by the other faction. This pact prevented voters giving their opinions on the treaty itself, especially in uncontested seats. However, the draft Constitution of the Irish Free State was then published on 15 June, and so the anti-treaty Sinn Féin group's 36 seats out of 128 seemed to many to be a democratic endorsement of the pro-treaty Sinn Féin's arrangements. Others argued that insufficient time was available to understand the draft constitution, but the main arguments and debates had already been made public during and after the Dáil Treaty Debates that had ended on 10 January 1922, nearly six months before.

Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, opposed the Pact as undemocratic, and made a long statement on 31 May.[3] He was responsible at the time for steering the transitional arrangements between the Provisional Government and the government of the United Kingdom in the period between the ratification of the Treaty and the creation of the Irish Free State.

Despite the Pact, the election results started the effective division of Sinn Féin into separate parties. The anti-Treaty TDs then boycotted the new Dáil, even though they had requested, negotiated and approved the terms of the Pact. This boycott gave uncontested control to the pro-treaty members of Sinn Féin, and so enabled W. T. Cosgrave to establish the Second Irish Provisional Government which became the First Executive Council of the Irish Free State on 6 December 1922.


3rd Irish general election 16 June 1922[4][5][6]
Party Leader Seats ± % of
First Pref
% FPv ±%
Sinn Féin (Pro-Treaty) Michael Collins 58 N/A 45.3 239,195 38.5 N/A
Sinn Féin (Anti-Treaty) Éamon de Valera 36 N/A 28.1 135,310 21.8 N/A
Labour Party Thomas Johnson 17 New 13.3 132,565 21.3 New
Farmers' Party Denis Gorey 7 New 5.5 48,718 7.8 New
Businessmen's Party 1 New 0.8 14,542 2.3 New
Ratepayers' Association 0 New 0 2,617 0.4 New
Independent N/A 9 N/A 7.0 48,638 7.8 N/A
Spoilt votes 19,684
Total 128 100 641,271 100
Electorate/Turnout 1,430,104 62.5%

Many seats were won unopposed; 17 by the Pro-Treaty Sinn Féin, 16 by the Anti-Treaty Sinn Féin and 4 by independents.

Voting summary

First preference vote
Sinn Féin (Pro-Treaty)
Sinn Féin (Anti-Treaty)
Ratepayers Association

Seats summary

Assembly seats
Sinn Féin (Pro-Treaty)
Sinn Féin (Anti-Treaty)

Votes cast

Out of a valid poll of 621,587 votes, the pro-Treaty faction of Sinn Féin won 239,195 votes and the anti-Treaty faction won 135,310 votes. The other parties and independents (see above) all supported the Treaty and secured a further 247,080 votes.[7]

The vote was seen as significant in several ways:

  • The pro-Treaty parties had secured support from over 75% of the electorate on the eve of the Irish Civil War.
  • The non-Sinn Féin parties had support from over 40% of the electorate.

Further, the anti-Treaty candidates had taken part in an election in line with Article 11 of the Treaty, even though they had argued that it was flawed , being partitionist. Their pro-Treaty opponents argued that this revealed that their anti-Treaty stance was opportunist, and not principled. Article 11 of the Treaty had limited such an election to the constituencies of the formative Free State, and specifically excluded constituencies in Northern Ireland, yet the anti-Treaty argument was that the Dáil represented the whole island of Ireland.

In that the anti-Treaty forces wanted to establish an all-Ireland republic, this election result when considered with the 1921 result in Northern Ireland shows that the anti-Treaty party had an enormous uphill struggle to achieve their constitutional aim.

Within 12 days, on 28 June 1922, as a result of the tensions between pro- and anti-Treatyites, the Irish Civil War broke out, when the Provisional Government's troops began a bombardment of the Anti-Treaty IRA's occupation of the Four Courts, Dublin.

Outgoing TDs

See also


  1. Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p990 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. Dáil Éireann debate - Saturday, 20 May 1922: NATIONAL COALITION PANEL JOINT STATEMENT.
  3. Hansard 31 May 1922 – Churchill's statement
  4. "3rd Dáil 1922 General Election". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  5. "Dáil elections since 1918". ARK Northern Ireland. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  6. Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1009 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  7. Younger, Calton "Ireland's Civil War" Muller, London 1968; p.304.
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