1944 Irish general election

The 1944 Irish general election was held on 30 May 1944, having been called on 9 May by President Douglas Hyde on the advice of Taoiseach Éamon de Valera. The general election took place in 34 parliamentary constituencies for 138 seats in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas (parliament). Fianna Fáil won an overall majority, and when the newly elected members of the 12th Dáil assembled on 9 June, de Valera was re-elected Taoiseach at the head of a majority government.

1944 Irish general election

30 May 1944

137 of 138 seats in Dáil Éireann
70 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Éamon de Valera Richard Mulcahy Joseph Blowick
Party Fianna Fáil Fine Gael Clann na Talmhan
Leader since 26 March 1926 1944 1944
Leader's seat Clare Tipperary
Last election 67 seats, 41.9% 32 seats, 23.1% 10 seats, 9.0%
Seats before 67 32 13
Seats won 76 30 9
Seat change 9 2 4
Popular vote 595,259 249,329 122,745
Percentage 48.9% 20.5% 10.8%
Swing 7.0% 2.6% 1.8%

  Fourth party Fifth party
Leader William Norton James Everett
Party Labour Party National Labour Party
Leader since 1932 1944
Leader's seat Kildare Wicklow
Last election 17 seats, 15.7% Did not stand
Seats before 12 5
Seats won 8 4
Seat change 4 1
Popular vote 106,767 32,732
Percentage 8.7% 2.7%
Swing 7.0% New party

Percentage of seats gained by each of the five biggest parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.

Taoiseach before election

Éamon de Valera
Fianna Fáil

Subsequent Taoiseach

Éamon de Valera
Fianna Fáil

The election was fought while the Emergency Powers Act 1939 was still in force.


The outgoing Fianna Fáil government was a minority government and after a defeat for the second reading of its Transport Bill, Taoiseach Éamon de Valera decided to call a snap election, just one year after the previous election, in hopes of getting an overall majority. The campaign was not wanted by the opposition parties. Technically, and exceptionally, the outgoing Dáil was not dissolved until after the election. Although the Constitution requires the President to dissolve the Dáil before a general election, this procedure was overridden by the General Elections (Emergency Provisions) Act 1943.[1][2][3] The act, which would have been unconstitutional if not for the state of emergency in effect during World War II, was intended to increase national security by minimising the interval during which no Dáil is in existence.[2] The election was called on 9 May but the Dáil met as scheduled on 10 May, where an adjournment debate was held in which the opposition TDs condemned the decision to hold an election in wartime as unnecessary and reckless.[3]

Fianna Fáil fought the election on its record in government and also in the hope of securing a fresh mandate for its policies. During the campaign Fine Gael put forward the proposal of forming a coalition government with the Labour Party and Clann na Talmhan, however, this was ridiculed by Fianna Fáil as untenable. A split in the Labour movement meant that the party was by no means ready to fight an election, and the results showed this.

Due to the fractured nature of the opposition, Éamon de Valera's tactic of calling a snap general election had succeeded, as it had in 1933 and 1938.


12th Irish general election 30 May 1944[4][5][6][7]
Party Leader Seats ± % of
First Pref
% FPv ±%
Fianna Fáil Éamon de Valera 76 +9 55.1 595,259 48.9 +7.0
Fine Gael Richard Mulcahy 30 –2 21.8 249,329 20.5 –2.6
Clann na Talmhan Joseph Blowick 9 –1 6.5 122,745 10.1 +0.3
Labour Party William Norton 8 –9 5.8 106,767 8.8 –6.9
National Labour Party James Everett 4 New 2.9 32,732 2.7
Monetary Reform Party Oliver J. Flanagan 1 0 0.7 9,856 0.8 +0.5
Ailtirí na hAiséirghe 0 0 0 5,809 0.5 +0.3
Independent N/A 10 0 7.2 94,852 7.8 –0.9
Spoilt votes 12,790
Total 138 0 100 1,230,139 100
Electorate/Turnout 1,816,142 69.2%
  • Fianna Fáil majority government formed.

Voting summary

First preference vote
Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael
Clann na Talmhan
National Labour
Monetary Reform
Ailtirí na hAiséirghe

Seats summary

Dáil seats
Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael
Clann na Talmhan
National Labour
Monetary Reform

First time TDs

Re-elected TDs

Outgoing TDs

See also


  1. "Constitution of Ireland". Irish Statute Book. Article 16.3. Retrieved 27 March 2018.; "General Elections (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1943". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  2. Committee on Finance (10th Dáil) (14 April 1943). "General Elections (Emergency Provisions) Bill, 1943—Second Stage". Dáil Éireann debates. Oireachtas. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  3. de Valera, Éamon (10 May 1944). "Adjournment of the Dáil". Vol.93 No.15 p.3 c.2497–2498. Retrieved 27 March 2018. I did not ask for a dissolution of the Dáil. This Dáil would not have been meeting to-day if there had been a dissolution. .... I did not ask for a dissolution, because we passed an Act last year to enable the Dáil, during this critical period, to be brought together at any time that there was need for doing so, so that the Executive at any time would have to assemble the Dáil in case there was any national issue that demanded its assembly. ... when the Dáil adjourns now it will not meet again unless there is some national issue which makes it necessary to call the Dáil together.
  4. "12th Dáil 1944 General Election". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 2 May 2009.
  5. "Dáil elections since 1918". ARK Northern Ireland. Retrieved 2 May 2009.
  6. Manning (1972) notes that the Clann na Talmhan figure is often listed in error, due to the inclusion of Independent Farmer TDs in the CnaT total.
  7. Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, pp1009-1017 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7


  • Manning, Maurice, 1972. Irish Political Parties: An Introduction. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-7171-0536-6
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