A quick look at some of the smaller parties that have run candidates over the years

A quick look at some of the smaller parties that have run candidates over the years

We the elctorate now find ourselves tasked with the duty of electing members for the 32nd Dail, Pauline Murphy writes.

Some might vote for established parties while others might take a punt on smaller political setups and since the foundation of the state there have been numerous minor parties in the hunt for seats in Dail Eireann.

Irish Agrarian Society had its own political wing in the 1920s. The Farmers Party contested the 1922 general election where they won 7 seats and a year later they boosted their Dail representation to 15. Splits fractured the party and in the 1927 general election the Farmers Party lost 9 of its 15 seats. By the mid 1930s the party had dissolved when some of its members followed the Fine Geal flock while others ploughed in behind Fianna Fail.

Captains of commerce also had a political party in the 1920s. The Businessmens Party won two seats in the 1923 general election. It was a party mostly made up of upper class Catholics and unionist Protestant's who were united in their capitalist interests. In the early 1930s the Businessmen's party amalgamated with the then newly formed Fine Gael.

Farmers and businessmen weren't the only interest groups to have political parties in the 1920s. The Irish National Association for the Blind contested the 1927 general election with the Blindmen's Party. They contested just two seats in Dublin but were unable to see beyond a poor polling and it disbanded shortly after.

Urbanites set their own agenda with the Town Tenants party. It entered the 1923 general election but failed to gain a concrete vote and detached itself from politics thereafter.

In the 1933 general election the National Centre Party won 11 seats. It was a conservative party which based the majority of its manifesto on issues of business and the red scare. It gained a strong right wing following and associated with the Army Comrades Association, but the party found a better balance when it annexed with Cumann na nGeal before they merged to become Fine Gael.

In the 1943 general election the Monetery Reform Party won a single seat. The notoriously far right party didn't win in the popularity stakes with its antisemitic stance and in the aftermath of WII the party waned before eventually disappearing from the Irish political landscape.

Another minor party with fascist undertones was Ailtiri na hAiseirghe which contested elections throughout the 40s and 50s. One of its main issues was outlawing the English language in Ireland but the elctorate spoke sense at the ballot box and refused the party until it faded from politics in the early 60s.

The Irish Housewives Association entered politics in 1957 when it contested that years general election. Among some of its aims was the abolition of the ban on married women working in the civil service. They fielded 4 candidates but the housewives failed to cook up enough support and they were rejected at the ballot box.

In the 1973 general election Aontacht Eireann fielded 12 candidates and all 12 lost. The party was founded on the principals of Republican socialism but it bizarrely became infiltrated by right wing nationalists in the late 1970s before it imploded in 1984.

The Ecology Party entered the 1982 general election with 7 candidates and a manifesto drenched in environmental issues but, the electorate were not yet ready to embrace the environment and the ecology 7 candidates lost. A year later it rebranded itself as the Green Alliance and in 1987 it was renamed the Green Party.

Now as we find ourselves stuck in a season of political jiving it will be interesting to see today's minor parties vying for position on an already crowded dancefloor.