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The Irish general election of 1918 was the part of the
1918 United Kingdom general election The 1918 United Kingdom general election was called immediately after the Armistice with Germany The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was the armistice signed at Le Francport near Compiègne that ended fighting on land, sea and air in World Wa ...

1918 United Kingdom general election
which took place in
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
. It is now seen as a key moment in modern
Irish history The first evidence of human presence in Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel ( ...
because it saw the overwhelming defeat of the moderate
nationalist Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation (as in a in-group and out-group, group of people),Anthony D. Smith, Smith, Anthony. ''Nationalism: Theory, Ideology, History''. Polity (publisher), Polity, ...
Irish Parliamentary Party The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP; commonly called the Irish Party or the Home Rule Party) was formed in 1874 by Isaac Butt Isaac Butt (6 September 1813 – 5 May 1879) was an Irish barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common ...
(IPP), which had dominated the Irish political landscape since the 1880s, and a landslide victory for the radical
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, "eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout Ireland; both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The History of Sinn Féin, original Sinn Féin organisation wa ...

Sinn Féin
party. Sinn Féin had never stood in a general election, but had won six seats in
by-elections A by-election (also spelled bye-election), also known as a special election in the United States and the Philippines, or a bypoll (India), is an election used to fill an office that has become vacant between general elections. In most cases these ...
in 1917–18. The party had vowed in its manifesto to establish an independent
Irish Republic The Irish Republic ( ga, Poblacht na hÉireann or ) was an unrecognised revolutionary state that declared its independence from the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the Unite ...

Irish Republic
. In
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces of Ireland, provinces, in the north of Ireland. It is made up of nine Counties ...

Ulster
, however, the Unionist Party was the most successful party. The election was held in the aftermath of the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...
, the
Easter Rising The Easter Rising ( ga, Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed Rebellion, insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week in April 1916. The Rising was launched by Irish republicanism, Irish republicans against Br ...
and the Conscription Crisis. It was the first general election to be held after the
Representation of the People Act 1918 The Representation of the People Act 1918 was an Act of Parliament passed to reform the elections in the United Kingdom, electoral system in Great Britain and Ireland. It is sometimes known as the Fourth Reform Act. The Act extended the Suffrage, ...

Representation of the People Act 1918
. It was thus the first election in which women over the age of 30, and all men over the age of 21, could vote. Previously, all women and most working-class men had been excluded from voting. In the aftermath of the elections, Sinn Féin's elected members refused to attend the
British Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind ...
in
Westminster Westminster is a district in Central London Central London is the innermost part of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city sta ...

Westminster
(London), and instead formed a parliament in Dublin, the First Dáil Éireann ("Assembly of Ireland"), which
declared Irish independence
declared Irish independence
as a republic. The
Irish War of Independence The Irish War of Independence ( ga, Cogadh na Saoirse) or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary or ...
was conducted under this revolutionary government which sought international recognition, and set about the process of state-building.


Background

In 1918 the whole of
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...

Ireland
was a part of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some f ...

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
, and was represented in the
British Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind ...
by 105 MPs. Whereas in
Great Britain Great Britain is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atoll An atoll (), ...

Great Britain
most elected politicians were members of either the
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, ...
or the
Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) *Conservative Party of Georgia *Conservative Party (Norway) *Conservative Party (UK) Histor ...

Conservative Party
, from the early 1880s most Irish MPs were Irish nationalists, who sat together in the British House of Commons as the
Irish Parliamentary Party The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP; commonly called the Irish Party or the Home Rule Party) was formed in 1874 by Isaac Butt Isaac Butt (6 September 1813 – 5 May 1879) was an Irish barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common ...
. The IPP strove for
Home Rule Home rule is government of a colony, dependent country, or region by its own citizens. It is thus the power of a part (administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative ...
, that is, limited self-government for Ireland within the United Kingdom, and had been supported by most
Irish people The Irish ( ga, Muintir na hÉireann or ''Na hÉireannaigh'') are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has ...
, especially the
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...
majority. Home Rule was opposed by most
Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants originating in the Ref ...
in Ireland, who formed a majority of the population in parts of the northern province of
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces of Ireland, provinces, in the north of Ireland. It is made up of nine Counties ...

Ulster
but a minority in the rest of Ireland, and favoured maintenance of the Union with Great Britain (and were therefore called Unionists). The Unionists were supported by the Conservative Party, whereas from 1885 the Liberal Party was committed to enacting some form of Home Rule. Unionists eventually formed their own representation, first the
Irish Unionist Party The Irish Unionist Alliance (IUA), also known as the Irish Unionist Party or simply the Unionists, was a unionist political party founded in Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atl ...
then the
Ulster Unionist Party The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) is a unionist and conservative Conservatism is a Political philosophy, political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to ...
. Home Rule appeared to have been finally achieved with the passing of the
Home Rule Act 1914 The Government of Ireland Act 1914 (4 & 5 Geo. 5 c. 90), also known as the Home Rule Act, and before enactment as the Third Home Rule Bill, was an Act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is ...
. However, the implementation of the Act was temporarily postponed with the outbreak of
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
due to determined Ulster Unionists' resistance to the Act. As the war prolonged and with the failure to make any progress on the issue, the more radical
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, "eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout Ireland; both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The History of Sinn Féin, original Sinn Féin organisation wa ...

Sinn Féin
began to grow in strength.


Rise of Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin was founded by
Arthur Griffith Arthur Joseph Griffith ( ga, Art Seosamh Ó Gríobhtha; 31 March 1871 – 12 August 1922) was an Irish writer, newspaper editor and politician who founded the political party Sinn Féin. He led the Irish delegation at the negotiations that prod ...

Arthur Griffith
in 1905. He believed that Irish nationalists should emulate the ''
Ausgleich 300px, Photo of the coronation oath in Inner City Parish Church (Budapest) ">Inner City Parish Church in Pest">Inner City Parish Church (Budapest) The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 (german: Ausgleich, hu, Kiegyezés) established th ...
'' of
HungarianHungarian may refer to: * Hungary, a country in Central Europe * Kingdom of Hungary, state of Hungary, existing between 1000 and 1946 * Hungarians, ethnic groups in Hungary * Hungarian algorithm, a polynomial time algorithm for solving the assignmen ...

Hungarian
nationalists who, in the 19th century under
Ferenc Deák Ferenc Deák de Kehida (archaically English: Francis Deak, hr, Franjo Deák; 17 October 180328 January 1876) was a Hungarian statesman and Minister of Justice. He was known as "The Wise Man of the Nation" and one of the greatest figures of Hunga ...
, had chosen to boycott the imperial parliament in
Vienna Vienna ( ; german: Wien ; bar, Wean, label=Bavarian language, Austro-Bavarian ) is the Capital city, national capital, largest city, and one of States of Austria, nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's List of cities and towns in Austria, mos ...

Vienna
and unilaterally established their own legislature in
Budapest Budapest (, ) is the capital and the List of cities and towns of Hungary, most populous city of Hungary, and the Largest cities of the European Union by population within city limits, ninth-largest city in the European Union by population with ...

Budapest
. Griffith had favoured a peaceful solution based on 'dual monarchy' with
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
, that is two separate states with a single head of state and a limited central government to control matters of common concern only. However, by 1918, under its new leader
Éamon de Valera Éamon de Valera (, ; first registered as ''George de Valero''; changed some time before 1901 to ''Edward de Valera''; 14 October 1882 – 29 August 1975) was a prominent statesman and political leader in 20th-century Ireland. He served severa ...

Éamon de Valera
, Sinn Féin had come to favour achieving separation from Britain by means of an armed uprising if necessary and the establishment of an independent republic. In the aftermath of the
1916 Easter Rising The Easter Rising ( ga, Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of ...
the party's ranks were swelled by participants and supporters of the rebellion as they were freed from British gaols and
internment Internment is the imprisonment of people, commonly in large groups, without charges or intent to file charges. The term is especially used for the confinement "of enemy citizens in war War is an intense armed conflict between states ...

internment
camps, and at its 1917
Ard Fheis ''Ard fheis'' or ''ardfheis'' ( "high assembly"; plural ''ardfheiseanna'') is the name used by many Irish political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It ...
(annual conference) de Valera was elected leader and the new, more radical policy adopted. Prior to 1916, Sinn Féin had been a fringe movement having a limited cooperative alliance with
William O'Brien William O'Brien (2 October 1852 – 25 February 1928) was an Irish Irish nationalism, nationalist, journalist, agrarian agitator, social revolutionary, politician, party leader, newspaper publisher, author and Member of Parliament (MP) in the H ...

William O'Brien
's
All-for-Ireland League The All-for-Ireland League (AFIL) was an Irish, Munster Munster ( gle, an Mhumhain or ) is one of the provinces of Ireland, in the south of Ireland. In early Ireland, the Kingdom of Munster was one of the kingdoms of Gaelic Ireland ruled b ...
and enjoyed little electoral success. However, between the Easter Rising of that year and the 1918 general election, the party's popularity increased dramatically. This was due to the failure to have the Home Rule Bill implemented when the IPP resisted the
partition of Ireland The partition of Ireland ( ga, críochdheighilt na hÉireann) was the process by which the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state that existed be ...
demanded by Ulster Unionists in 1914, 1916 and 1917, but also popular antagonism towards the British authorities created by the execution of most of the leaders of the 1916 rebels and by their botched attempt to introduce Home Rule on the conclusion of the
Irish Convention The Irish Convention was an assembly which sat in Dublin Dublin (, ; ) is the capital and largest city of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. Situated on a bay on the east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey, it lies within the Provinces of ...
linked with military
conscription Conscription, sometimes called the draft in the United States, is the mandatory enlistment of people in a national service National service is a system of either compulsory or voluntary government service, usually military service Mili ...

conscription
in Ireland (see
Conscription Crisis of 1918 The Conscription Crisis of 1918 stemmed from a move by the British government The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and ...
). Sinn Féin demonstrated its new electoral capability in four by-election successes in 1917 in which
Count Plunkett George Noble Plunkett KCHS (3 December 1851 – 12 March 1948) was an Irish nationalist politician, museum director and biographer, who served as Minister for Fine Arts from 1921 to 1922, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister for Fore ...
, Joseph McGuinness, de Valera and
W. T. Cosgrave William Thomas Cosgrave (6 June 1880 – 16 November 1965) was an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State from 1922 to 1932, Leader of the Opposition The Leader of the Opposition is a ...
were each elected, although it lost three by-elections in early 1918 before winning two more with
Patrick McCartan Patrick McCartan ( – 28 March 1963) was an Irish republican and politician. Early life He was born in Eskerbuoy, near Carrickmore, County Tyrone County Tyrone (; ) is one of the thirty-two counties of Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éir ...

Patrick McCartan
and
Arthur Griffith Arthur Joseph Griffith ( ga, Art Seosamh Ó Gríobhtha; 31 March 1871 – 12 August 1922) was an Irish writer, newspaper editor and politician who founded the political party Sinn Féin. He led the Irish delegation at the negotiations that prod ...

Arthur Griffith
. In one case there were unproven allegations of electoral fraud. The party had benefitted from a number of factors in the 1918 elections, including demographic changes and political factors.


Changes in the electorate

The Irish electorate in 1918, as with the entire electorate throughout the United Kingdom, had changed in two major ways since the preceding general election. Firstly, there was a "generational" change because of the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...
, which meant that the British general election due in 1915 had not taken place. As a result, no election took place between 1910 and 1918, the longest gap in modern British and Irish constitutional history until then (it was superseded in Britain in 1935–45). Thus the 1918 election saw, in particular: * All voters between the age of 21 and 29 were first time general election voters. They had no history of past voter loyalty to the IPP to fall back on, and had begun their political awareness in the period of 8 years that had seen a bitter world war, the home rule controversy and the Easter Rising and its aftermath. * A generation of older voters, most of them IPP supporters, had died in that eight-year period. * Emigration (except to Britain) had been almost impossible during the war because of the dangerous sea lanes, which meant that tens of thousands of young people were in Ireland who in normal times would have been abroad. * As Ireland had not had conscription, Unionists and moderate Nationalists had predominantly made up the volunteers for the duration of the war. Consequently, there was a large loss in the age range of young Unionists and moderate Nationalists, which did not occur amongst Republicans who had not volunteered. Secondly, the
franchise Franchise may refer to: Business and law * Franchising, a business method that involves licensing of trademarks and methods of doing business to franchisees * Franchise, a privilege to operate a type of business such as a cable television pro ...

franchise
had been greatly extended by the
Representation of the People Act 1918 The Representation of the People Act 1918 was an Act of Parliament passed to reform the elections in the United Kingdom, electoral system in Great Britain and Ireland. It is sometimes known as the Fourth Reform Act. The Act extended the Suffrage, ...

Representation of the People Act 1918
. This granted voting rights to women (albeit only those over 30) for the first time, and gave all men over 21 and military servicemen over 19 a vote in parliamentary elections without property qualifications. The Irish electorate increased from around 700,000 to about two million. Overall, a new generation of young voters, and the sudden influx of women over thirty, meant that vast numbers of new voters of unknown voter affiliation existed, changing dramatically the make-up of the Irish electorate.


Political factors

*Since the previous general election in December 1910, the formerly-dominant Irish Parliamentary Party, unchallenged for nearly a decade, was largely of an older generation. Its local organisation had atrophied, making defence of its seats difficult. The party's votes in parliament had been decisive in passing the 1914 Home Rule Act but, due to the outbreak of the
War War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...

War
, it was never put into effect. The party's policy was to achieve All-Ireland self-government constitutionally, within the framework of the United Kingdom, as opposed to using separatist physical force. *The electorate had become enamoured with Sinn Féin, particularly due to the harsh response of the authorities to the
Easter Rising The Easter Rising ( ga, Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed Rebellion, insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week in April 1916. The Rising was launched by Irish republicanism, Irish republicans against Br ...
. Sinn Féin had been falsely blamed for the Rising even though it had taken no part in it. The party also took most of the credit for the successful campaign to prevent the introduction of conscription in 1918. *Whereas the IPP had conceded a temporary form of partition in 1914, as a measure to pacify
Ulster loyalist Ulster loyalism is a strand of Unionism in Ireland, Ulster unionism associated with working class Ulster Protestants in Northern Ireland. Like unionists, loyalists support the continued existence of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom, a ...
s, Sinn Féin felt that that would worsen and prolong any differences between north and south. *In contrast to the IPP, Sinn Féin were seen as a young and radical force. Its leaders, such as Michael Collins (28) and de Valera (36), were young militant politicians, like most of the new voters and their imprisoned republican candidates. *IPP leaders such as
John Dillon John Dillon (4 September 1851 – 4 August 1927) was an Irish politician from Dublin, who served as a Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) for over 35 years and was the last leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. ...

John Dillon
, who had been in public office since the 1880s, were largely older, moderate politicians, and had campaigned for All-Ireland Home Rule since the time of
Charles Stewart Parnell Charles Stewart Parnell (27 June 1846 – 6 October 1891) was an Irish nationalist politician who served as a Member of Parliament (MP) A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency. In man ...

Charles Stewart Parnell
, and continued to press for the implementation of the 1914 Act, and a constitutional solution to have Ulster included in the jurisdiction of a Dublin parliament. * On the other hand, Sinn Féin promoted a radical new policy of achieving Irish self-government outside of the UK, and many of its volunteer wing were ready to defend a republic with physical force. By 1918, Sinn Féin followers had come to see the gradual acquisition of All-Ireland Home Rule as an idea whose time had come and gone. *The Irish population had been radicalised during World War I. In addition to the heavy losses suffered by
Irish regiment The Irish military diaspora refers to the many people of either Irish birth or extraction (see Irish diaspora) who have served in overseas armed forces, military forces, regardless of rank, duration of service, or success. Many overseas military ...
s, the conscription threat and British military measures, there was rapid
inflation In economics, inflation refers to a general progressive increase in prices of goods and services in an economy. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation corresponds to a r ...

inflation
that sparked off a wave of strikes and industrial disputes. The 1918 election also occurred at a time of revolution across Europe. *Unionist fear of Home Rule, or worse, separation, solidified after the Rising, and the Unionist vote was enhanced in Ulster by the increased electorate. It was the first election since the
Ulster Covenant Ulster's Solemn League and Covenant, commonly known as the Ulster Covenant, was signed by nearly 500,000 people on and before 28 September 1912, in protest against the Third Home Rule Bill introduced by the British Government The Governm ...

Ulster Covenant
, the formation of the
Ulster Volunteers The Ulster Volunteers was a unionist militia founded in 1912 to block domestic self-government (or Home Rule) for Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Atla ...
(UVF), and the
Battle of the Somme The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was a battle of the First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is " ...
. *Sinn Féin's policy was outlined in its
election manifesto A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or Consensus decision-making, public ...
, which aimed for Irish representation at any post-war peace conference. By contrast, IPP policy was to leave negotiation to the British government. *Nearly a year earlier, in January 1918,
Woodrow Wilson Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856February 3, 1924) was an American politician and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of gove ...

Woodrow Wilson
had issued his
Fourteen Points U.S. President Woodrow Wilson The Fourteen Points was a statement of principles for peace upStatue of Eirene, goddess of peace in ancient Greek religion, with her son Pluto. Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absenc ...
policy, which seemed to promise that self-government and self-determination would become the norm in international relations. *The Ulster Unionists' resistance to All-Ireland self-government remained unresolved, and little account was taken of Unionist reservations about what they contended would be Catholic rule from Dublin.


The election

Voting in most Irish constituencies occurred on 14 December 1918. While the rest of the United Kingdom fought the 'Khaki election' on other issues involving the British parties, in Ireland four major political parties had national appeal. These were the IPP, Sinn Féin, the
Irish Unionist Party The Irish Unionist Alliance (IUA), also known as the Irish Unionist Party or simply the Unionists, was a unionist political party founded in Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atl ...
and the
Irish Labour Party The Labour Party ( ga, Páirtí an Lucht Oibre, literally "Party of the Working People") is a social democracy, social democratic list of political parties in the Republic of Ireland, political party in the Republic of Ireland. Founded on 28 May ...
. The Labour Party, however, decided not to participate in the election, fearing that it would be caught in the political crossfire between the IPP and Sinn Féin; it thought it better to let the people make up their minds on the issue of Home Rule versus a Republic by having a clear two-way choice between the two nationalist parties. The Unionist Party favoured continuance of the union with Britain (along with its subordinate, the
Ulster Unionist Labour Association The Ulster Unionist Labour Association was an association of trade unionists founded by Edward Carson in June 1918, aligned with the Ulster Unionists in Ireland. Members were known as Labour Unionists. In Britain Britain usually refers to: * Un ...
, who fought as 'Labour Unionists'). A number of other small nationalist parties also took part. In Ireland 105 MPs could be elected from 103 constituencies (although, as stated below, four MPs were elected for two constituencies and so the total number of people elected was 101). Ninety-nine seats were elected from single seat geographical constituencies under the
first-past-the-post voting In a first-past-the-post electoral system (FPTP or FPP; sometimes formally called single-member plurality voting or SMP; sometimes called choose-one voting for single-member districts, in contrast to ranked voting, ranked-choice voting), voter ...
system. However, there were also two two-seat constituencies:
University of Dublin The University of Dublin ( ga, Ollscoil Átha Cliath), corporately designated the Chancellor, Doctors and Masters of the University of Dublin, is a university located in Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Irela ...
(Trinity College) elected two MPs under the
single transferable vote Single transferable vote (STV) is a type of ranked preferential electoral system An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and Referendum, referendums are conducted and how their results are de ...
and
Cork City Cork (; , from ''wikt:corcach, corcach'', meaning "marsh") is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland, located in the South-West Region, Ireland, south-west of Ireland, in the Provinces of Ireland, province of Munster. Following an ...
elected two MPs under the bloc voting system. In addition to ordinary geographical constituencies there were three university constituencies: the
Queen's University of Belfast , native_name_lang = Irish , image_upright = , image_size = 150px , image_alt = Seal of Queen's University Belfast , caption = Coat of arms#REDIRECT coat of arms A coat of arms is a heraldry, heraldic communication design, visual d ...
(which returned a Unionist), the University of Dublin (which returned two Unionists) and the
National University of Ireland The National University of Ireland (NUI) ( ga, Ollscoil na hÉireann) is a federal university A collegiate university is a university in which functions are divided between a central administration and a number of constituent colleges. His ...
(which returned a member of Sinn Féin). Of the 105 seats, 25 were uncontested, with a Sinn Féin candidate winning unopposed. Seventeen of these seats were in
Munster Munster ( gle, an Mhumhain or ) is one of the provinces of Ireland Since pre-historic times, there have been four Provinces of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.ht ...

Munster
. In some cases it was because there was a certain winner in Sinn Féin. British government propaganda formulated in Dublin Castle and circulated through a censored press alleged that
republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the rule of law. ** Republicanism, the ideology in support of republics or against ...
militants had threatened potential candidates to discourage non-Sinn Féiners from running.


Results


Voting summary


Seats summary


Analysis

Sinn Féin candidates won 73 seats out of 105, but four party candidates (Arthur Griffith, Éamon de Valera, Eoin MacNeill and
Liam Mellows William Joseph Mellows ( ga, Liam Ó Maoilíosa, 25 May 1892 – 8 December 1922) was an Irish republican and Sinn Féin politician. Born in England to an English father and Irish mother, he grew up in Ashton-under-Lyne Ashton-under-Lyne is ...

Liam Mellows
) were elected for two constituencies and so the total number of individual Sinn Féin MPs elected was 69. Despite the isolated allegations of
intimidationIntimidation (also called cowing) is intentional behavior that "would cause a person of ordinary sensibilities" to fear injury Injury, also known as physical trauma, is damage Damage is any change in a thing, often a physical object, that degr ...

intimidation
and
electoral fraud Forms of electoral fraud, sometimes referred to as election manipulation, voter fraud or vote rigging, involves illegal interference with the process of an election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population ...
on the part of both republicans and unionists, the election was seen as a landslide victory for Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin received 46.9% of votes island-wide, and 65% of votes in the area that became the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
. However, the 46.9% is not the total result of the overall success of Sinn Féin. That figure only accounts for 48 seats that they won because in 25 of the other constituencies the other parties did not contest them, and Sinn Féin won them unopposed. Most of these constituencies were Sinn Féin strongholds. It is estimated that, had the 25 seats been contested, Sinn Féin would have received at least 53% of the vote island-wide.The Irish Election of 1918
ARK. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
However, this is a conservative estimate and the percentage would likely have been higher. Sinn Féin also did not contest four seats due to a deal with the IPP (see below). Labour, who had pulled out in the south under instructions to 'wait', polled better in Belfast than Sinn Féin. Within the 26 counties that became the Irish Free State, Sinn Féin achieved 400,269 votes in the contested seats out of 606,117 total votes cast which amounted to a huge landslide of 66.0% in the vote and winning 70 out of the 75 constituencies. The Irish Unionist Party won 22 seats and 25.3% of the vote island-wide (29.2% when Labour Unionist candidates are included), becoming the second-largest party in terms of MPs. The success of the unionists, who won 26 seats overall, was largely limited to
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces of Ireland, provinces, in the north of Ireland. It is made up of nine Counties ...

Ulster
. Otherwise, southern unionists were elected only in the constituencies of
Rathmines Rathmines () is an inner suburb on the southside of Dublin in Ireland, about three kilometres south of the city centre. It effectively begins at the south side of the Grand CanalGrand Canal can refer to multiple waterways: * Grand Canal (Chi ...
and the
University of Dublin The University of Dublin ( ga, Ollscoil Átha Cliath), corporately designated the Chancellor, Doctors and Masters of the University of Dublin, is a university located in Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Irela ...
which returned two. In the 26 counties that later became the Irish Free State and then the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Unionist Alliance polled 37,218 votes from 101,839 total votes cast for other parties in the constituencies that they stood a candidate. However, if all of the total votes in the contested seats where the Irish Unionist Alliance did not stand are included there was a total of 606,117 votes cast, which converts the Irish Unionist Alliance share of the vote in the 26 counties to just 6.1%. With the one Independent Unionist being elected for Dublin University adding 0.1% in total with 793 votes to give 6.2% across the 26 counties and only 3 seats won by the Unionists. The IPP suffered a catastrophic defeat and even its leader,
John Dillon John Dillon (4 September 1851 – 4 August 1927) was an Irish politician from Dublin, who served as a Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) for over 35 years and was the last leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. ...

John Dillon
, was not re-elected. It won only six seats in Ireland, its losses exaggerated by the "first-past-the-post" system which gave it a share of seats far short of its much larger share of the vote (21.7%) and the number of seats it would have won under a "proportional representation" ballot system. All but one of its seats were in Ulster. The exception was Waterford City, the seat previously held by
John Redmond John Edward Redmond (1 September 1856 – 6 March 1918) was an Irish nationalism, Irish nationalist politician, barrister, and Member of Parliament, MP in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. He was best known as leader of the moderate ...

John Redmond
, who had died earlier in the year, and retained by his son Captain William Redmond. Four of their Ulster seats were part of the deal to avoid unionist victories which saved some for the party but may have cost it the support of Protestant voters elsewhere. The IPP came close to winning other seats in
LouthLouth is the name of several locations around the world: Australia *Hundred of Louth, a cadastral unit in South Australia * Louth, New South Wales, a town *Louth Bay, a bay in South Australia **Louth Bay, South Australia, a town and locality Canad ...
and Wexford South, and in general their support held up better in the north and east of the island. The party was represented in Westminster by seven MPs because won the Liverpool Scotland seat due to Irish emigrant votes. The remnants of the IPP in time became the
Nationalist PartyNationalist Party may refer to: Current parties * Bangladesh Nationalist Party * Basque Nationalist Party * Cornish Nationalist Party * Nacionalista Party (Philippines) * Nationalist Movement Party (Turkey) * Nationalist Party of Canada * Nationalist ...
under the leadership of
Joseph Devlin Joseph Devlin (13 February 1871 – 18 January 1934) was an Irish journalist and influential nationalist Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation (as in a in-group and out-group, group of pe ...
. In the 26 counties that became the Irish Free State, the Irish Parliamentary Party won 181,320 votes out of 606,117 total votes cast in the contested seats which amounts to a 26.0% vote share. If the Independent Home Rule Nationalists are included there were 11,162 votes which comes to 1.8% and a vote share of 27.8% for the Nationalists. The Irish Parliamentary Party held on to just 2 seats in the 26 counties that became Southern Ireland and then the Irish Free State.


Ulster

In
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces of Ireland, provinces, in the north of Ireland. It is made up of nine Counties ...

Ulster
(nine-counties), Unionists won 23 out of the 38 seats with Sinn Féin gaining ten and the Irish Parliamentary Party five. There was a limited electoral pact brokered by Roman Catholic Cardinal
Michael Logue Michael Logue (1 October 1840 – 19 November 1924) was an Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, ...

Michael Logue
in December between Sinn Féin and the Nationalist IPP in eight seats. However, it only concluded after nominations closed. Sinn Féin, remarkably successfully, instructed its supporters to vote IPP in Armagh South, despite no Unionist candidate (79 SF votes), Down South (33 SF votes for Éamon de Valera), Tyrone North-East (56 SF votes) and Donegal East (46 SF votes). The IPP instructed its supporters to vote Sinn Féin in Fermanagh South (132 IPP votes) which had no Unionist candidate, Londonderry City (120 IPP votes) where Eoin MacNeill narrowly beat the Unionist, and Tyrone North-West also against a Unionist but where no IPP candidate was nominated. The discipline of voters, when faced with two rival nationalist candidates and with only a post-nomination pact, was impressive. The pact only broke down in Down East where a Unionist won as the IPP candidate refused to participate, thus splitting the Catholic nationalist vote. There was no pact in Belfast Falls which Joe Devlin (IPP) won with 8,488 votes against 3,245 for Éamon de Valera (SF) although no Unionist stood. The only other Belfast seat contested by both nationalist parties was Duncairn against Edward Carson, otherwise Sinn Féin stood alone in seven seats reaching double figures in two. Monaghan North was won by Sinn Féin's Ernest Blythe in a three-cornered fight against both IPP and Unionist candidates. In the Monaghan South, and Donegal North, South and West seats, despite no Unionist standing, Sinn Féin won all four against IPP candidates. Sinn Féin took the two (uncontested) Cavan seats with Arthur Griffith taking his second in Cavan East as well as that of Tyrone North West. In six contested seats no Unionist stood. Unionists won a clear majority of the 38 Ulster seats including eight of the nine in Belfast. In the six Ulster counties which formed the future Northern Ireland, Unionists won 23 of the 30 seats. The vote totals were:http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections/h1918.htm , - style="text-align:left;" ! style="background-color:#E9E9E9; text-align:center;" colspan=2 , Party
! style="background-color:#E9E9E9; text-align:center;" colspan=1 , Votes
! style="background-color:#E9E9E9; text-align:center;" , % Votes
! style="background-color:#E9E9E9; text-align:center;" colspan=1 , Seats
! style="background-color:#E9E9E9; text-align:center;" , % Seats
, - , , 225,082 , 56.2 , 20 , 69.0 , - , , 76,100 , 19.0 , 3 , 6.9 , - , , 44,238 , 11.1 , 4 , 13.8 , - ! style="background-color: " , , style="text-align:left;" , Labour Unionist , 30,304 , 7.6 , 3 , 10.3 , - , , 12,164 , 3.0 , 0 , — , - , , 8,738 , 2.2 , 0 , — , - , , 2,602 , 0.6 , 0 , — , - , , 659 , 0.2 , 0 , — , - , , 436 , 0.1 , 0 , — , - class="unsortable" ! colspan=2 style="background-color:#E9E9E9" , Total ! style="background-color:#E9E9E9" , 400,323 ! style="background-color:#E9E9E9" , ! style="background-color:#E9E9E9" , 30 ! style="background-color:#E9E9E9" ,


Aftermath and legacy

On 21 January 1919, 27 (out of 101 elected) members representing thirty constituencies answered the roll of
Dáil Éireann Dáil Éireann ( , ; ) is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community i ...
—the
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
for "Assembly of Ireland". Invitations to attend the Dáil had been sent to all 100 men and one woman who had been elected on 14 December 1918.
Eoin MacNeill Eoin MacNeill ( ga, Eoin Mac Néill; born John MacNeill; 15 May 1867 – 15 October 1945) was an Irish scholar, Irish language Irish ( in Standard Irish Standard may refer to: Symbols * Colours, standards and guidons, kinds of milita ...

Eoin MacNeill
had been elected for both Londonderry City and the
National University of Ireland The National University of Ireland (NUI) ( ga, Ollscoil na hÉireann) is a federal university A collegiate university is a university in which functions are divided between a central administration and a number of constituent colleges. His ...
. Thirty-three republicans were unable to attend as they were in prison, most of them without trial since 17 May 1918. Pierce McCan (of Tipperary East), who died in prison, would have brought the total to thirty-four. Of the 69 republicans elected, most had fought in the
Easter Rising The Easter Rising ( ga, Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed Rebellion, insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week in April 1916. The Rising was launched by Irish republicanism, Irish republicans against Br ...
. In accordance with the Sinn Féin manifesto, their elected members refused to attend
Westminster Westminster is a district in Central London Central London is the innermost part of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city sta ...

Westminster
, having instead formed their own parliament. Dáil Éireann was, according to John Patrick McCarthy, the revolutionary government under which the
Irish War of Independence The Irish War of Independence ( ga, Cogadh na Saoirse) or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary or ...
was fought and which sought international recognition. Maryann Gialanella Valiulis says that having justified its existence, the Dáil provided itself with a theoretical framework and set about the process of
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
-building. After having dominated Irish politics for four decades, the IPP was so decimated by its massive defeat that it dissolved soon after the election. As mentioned above, its remains became the Northern Ireland-based Nationalist Party, which survived in Northern Ireland until 1969. The British administration and unionists refused to recognise the Dáil. At its first meeting attended by 27 deputies (other were still imprisoned or impaired) on 21 January 1919 the Dáil issued a
Declaration of Independence#REDIRECT Declaration of independence {{Redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation ...

Declaration of Independence
and proclaimed itself the parliament of a new state, the
Irish Republic The Irish Republic ( ga, Poblacht na hÉireann or ) was an unrecognised revolutionary state that declared its independence from the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the Unite ...

Irish Republic
. On the same day, in unconnected circumstances, two members of the
Royal Irish Constabulary The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC, ga, Constáblacht Ríoga na hÉireann; simply called the Irish Constabulary 1836–67) was the police force in Ireland from 1822 until 1922, when the country was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain an ...
guarding
gelignite Gelignite (), also known as blasting gelatin or simply jelly, is an explosive material consisting of collodion-cotton (a type of nitrocellulose or guncotton) dissolved in either nitroglycerine or nitroglycol and mixed with wood pulp and Potassium ...
were killed in the Soloheadbeg Ambush by members of the
Irish Volunteers The Irish Volunteers ( ga, Óglaigh na hÉireann), sometimes called the Irish Volunteer Force or Irish Volunteer Army, was a military organisation established in 1913 by Irish nationalists. It was ostensibly formed in response to the formatio ...
. Although it had not ordered this incident, the course of events soon drove the Dáil to recognise the Volunteers as the army of the Irish Republic and the ambush as an act of war against Great Britain. The Volunteers therefore changed their name, in August, to the
Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary organisations in Ireland throughout the 20th and the 21st centuries. Organisations going by this name have been dedicated to irredentism through Irish republicanism, the be ...
. In this way the 1918 elections led to the outbreak of the
Anglo-Irish War The Irish War of Independence ( ga, Cogadh na Saoirse) or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary ...
, giving the impression that the election sanctioned the war. The train of events set in motion by the elections would eventually bring about the creation of the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of St ...
as a British dominion in 1922. That state became the first internationally recognised independent Irish state in 1931, when the Statute of Westminster removed virtually all of the UK Parliament's remaining authority over the Free State and the other dominions. The Free State eventually evolved into the modern
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective id ...

Republic of Ireland
. The leaders of the Sinn Féin candidates elected in 1918, such as de Valera, Michael Collins and W. T. Cosgrave, came to dominate Irish politics. De Valera, for example, would hold some form of elected office from his first election as an MP in a
by-election A by-election (also spelled bye-election), also known as a special election in the United States and the Philippines, or a bypoll (India), is an election used to fill an office that has become vacant between general elections. In most cases these ...
in 1917 until 1973. The two major parties in the Republic of Ireland today,
Fianna Fáil Fianna Fáil (, ; meaning 'Soldiers of Destiny' or 'Warriors of Fál'), officially Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party ( ga, audio=ga-Fianna Fáil.ogg, Fianna Fáil – An Páirtí Poblachtánach), is a conservative Conser ...
and
Fine Gael Fine Gael (, ; English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the ...
, are both descendants of Sinn Féin, which first enjoyed substantial electoral success in 1918.


Prominent candidates


Elected unopposed


Elected in contests


Defeated


See also

*
History of Ireland (1801–1923) Ireland was Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1801 to 1922. For almost all of this period, the island was governed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, UK Parliament in London through ...
*
John Redmond John Edward Redmond (1 September 1856 – 6 March 1918) was an Irish nationalism, Irish nationalist politician, barrister, and Member of Parliament, MP in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. He was best known as leader of the moderate ...

John Redmond
*
Edward Carson Edward Henry Carson, Baron Carson, PC, PC (Ire) (9 February 1854 – 22 October 1935), from 1900 to 1921 known as Sir Edward Carson, was a Scottish-Irish unionist Unionism in Ireland is a political tradition on the island An ...
* Members of the 1st Dáil


Footnotes


Notes on election results


References

*
Tim Pat Coogan Timothy Patrick "Tim Pat" Coogan (born 22 April 1935) is an Irish writer, broadcaster and newspaper columnist. He served as editor of '' The Irish Press'' newspaper from 1968-87. He has been best-known for such books as ''The IRA'', ''Ireland Sin ...
, ''Michael Collins'' * John Patrick McCarthy, ''Ireland: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present'' * Maryann Gialanella Valiulis, ''Portrait of a revolutionary: General Richard Mulcahy and the founding of the Irish Free State'' * Michael Laffan,'' The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Féin Party, 1916-1923'' * Maire Comerford, ''The First Dáil'' *
Dorothy Macardle Dorothy Macardle (2 February 1889, in Dundalk Dundalk ( ; ga, Dún Dealgan , meaning "the fort of Dealgan", a Fir Bolg In medieval Irish myth, the Fir Bolg (also spelt Firbolg and Fir Bholg) are the fourth group of people to settle in Irel ...
, '' The Irish Republic (book)'' {{DEFAULTSORT:Irish General Election, 1918 1918 in Ireland General elections in Ireland, 1918 1918 United Kingdom general election, #Ireland Home rule in Ireland General elections in Ireland to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, 1918 1st Dáil December 1918 events 1910s elections in Ireland