A Dáil cannot continue for longer than 5 years. This is set out in the Electoral (Amendment) Act 1927.
The Taoiseach can ask the President to dissolve the Dáil at any time. The President can only refuse to do this if the government does not have a majority in the Dáil (a minority government).
A general election may also be called if:
- The Taoiseach and government have lost a vote of no confidence in the Dáil. Under the Constitution of Ireland, the Taoiseach and government must resign once a new government is formed.
- A coalition partner (a smaller party that joins a larger party to form a government) has withdrawn its support for the government.
There are 160 TDs in the current Dáil. A new review in 2023 by the Electoral Commission states there will be 174 TDs in the next Dail.
- A party needs a majority to form the Government in Parliament (50% +1), a party must have 84 TDs elected to go into Government. When 2 parties form a Government, it is known as a Coalition Government.
- The Government in power is made up of the Cabinet, Ministers and Backbenchers. The Cabinet must have at least 7 and not more than 15 members. It must include the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance.
- The Taoiseach is leader of the Government. S/he chairs the Cabinet meetings. S/he decides the time for a General Election, meets with leaders from other countries and selects 11 of the 60 Senators in the Seanad.
- The Tánaiste is like the vice captain of the team. S/he takes the place of the Taoiseach when s/he is absent.
- The Ministers are the leaders of the Government Departments.
The Main Business of Government:
- Care/Management of Public Finances
- Administration of Departments
- Legislation in economic, financial and social areas.
TDs represent all of the electorate in their own Constituency. Each TD provides the democratic link between the people and the Government. The TD’s main role is to pass laws and decide on policies that affect the lives of the people. For example after the Budget, TDs must vote on the Finance Bill which gives approval for any changes made by the Budget, such as increases in social welfare. TDs also have representative functions. They may represent the Government on various committees such as the V.E.C. Boards. A TD can make submissions on behalf of constituents to Ministers, Government Departments, etc.
Very often the TD sets aside a special time and place to hear the concerns of her/his constituents. These are called ‘clinics’ or ‘advice centres’. For example, a family may need help for a child in need of special assistance. They can visit the clinic and bring this matter to the attention of the local TD who can then use Dail procedures to have this item raised on the floor of the Dáil.
Do you to know that?
- 51% of our population are women
- Only 13.8% of the elected members of the Dáil are women
- At the present rate, it will take 370 years for 50% of Dáil representatives to be women
How to Vote in A General Election
If you are on the Register of Electors, a polling card will be sent to your home before the date of the general election. Your polling card includes your elector number and will tell you where you can vote.