One particular type of minor candidate outside of the party circle is the independent. Perhaps the most exceptional feature of the Irish political (party) system, the persistence and significance of independents have exceeded that of many minor parties. This presence is pretty unusual in most liberal democracies, where independents are seen as irrelevant at best, and a menace at worst. This article assesses the support bases of these candidates. Beginning with aggregate data, it details where independents have experienced success and the consistency (or lack) of their vote. Using individual-level data, the nature of the independent voter is determined. It is found that there are few social bases to such a vote. Localism, personalism and protest are significant factors, but an independent vote is more of an expression of apathy towards parties rather than a specific antipathy.
- electoral behaviour
- non-party politics