Count Gist: Oh, Sweet Mystery of Life, At last I've found thee!

Count Gist: Oh, Sweet Mystery of Life, At last I've found thee!

It's Day 1 of the count. The boxes are open. True things were said yesterday, and today we got to literally enumerate them.

I love a count, me.

Bundles of Votes

There are thousands of stories across the country in a count. But here isn't the place for all those.

Instead, here's the Gist;

Sinn Féin's day comes
Sinn Féin are at the head of the big table now, getting more votes than any party. But they've pulled up to it in a short chair of their own design, thanks to a conservative candidate strategy. As SF candidates swept in across the day on first counts, with entire spare quotas being distributed, we got to find out how real the slogan of vote left, transfer left was. And, as it turned out, it pretty much stuck. For example, Mary Lou McDonald's constituency voters may yet be instrumental in delivering both ancient local Christy Burke and flash young Gary Gannon in her wake.

FG in their rut
After a campaign so bad its awfulness became an actual campaign talking point, Fine Gael limped home in third place on first preferences. UCD's number crunchers are projecting they will end up with effectively the same number of seats as SF, or a bit less. Their seat strategy was the mirror of SF's mistake, running multiple candidates, expecting to emerge the overwhelming winners. Instead, Ministers have flamed out completely while others scraped home in late counts. They've ruled out coalition with SF, giving them only two futures- opposition or a formal coalition with FF.

Their reaction of flat denial of the reality of what had happened, as well as a refusal to accept they had done anything- at all- wrong doesn't look like a party ready to make peace with voters. Richard Burton, Eoghan Murphy and Damian English all echoed the same party view that the electorate just hadn't been smart enough to understand that FG was good for them.

FF, lost and found
Fianna Fáil are adrift and look to be rewarded for it. Having lost half its historical vote and becoming the large party least in tune with modern Ireland (its primary indicator of support is weekly mass-going), its leader is the most likely to end up as Taoiseach after this election.

Having ruled out any deal with SF during the campaign, Micheal Martin was suddenly happy to think about talking to them as the numbers came in. And, as that's the only way to get to a majority, then that's what's going to happen. (In a bit. We need to spend weeks pretending first.)

But long term, Fianna Fáil is a party being hollowed out. Taking power will keep the facade of functionality and recovery in place but only a massive culture change in the party will stop that rot.

Any Transfers left?
Sinn Féin hoovered up so much of the non-FF/FG first preference that it was only when their surpluses were being distributed that we got a sense of how the rest of the others did. Briefly the answer was:
PBP/Solidarity did OK
Social Democrats did actively well (including appearing to take the seat in Wicklow occupied by Stephen Donnelly, who left the party to join FF),
Labour had a shocker (4%!)
The Greens did pretty well, with some walloping successes (Dublin Central), though, as I suggested, their decision to run an anti-choice candidate in Dublin Bay North has likely cost them that seat.
Oh, and fascists, racists and assorted head-bangers got nowhere.

Tomorrow, the real drama happens.