Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FASHION

Fashion, what's happened in 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

France: 2014 in review

Read more

#THE 51%

South Africa: Taking a stand against child marriage

Read more

DEBATE

The Future of the Book

Read more

DEBATE

The Future of the Book (part 2)

Read more

REPORTERS

France 24’s best documentaries of 2014

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'We have to build a new Tunisia', says the president of the Tunisian Parliament

Read more

FACE-OFF

France on alert after attacks: a case of collective hysteria?

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'Beijing needs to revaluate its policy in the Tibetan areas', says FM of the Tibetan government-in-exile

Read more

Europe

Higgins elected president after stunning comeback

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-10-29

Former culture minister and Labour member Michael Higgins was on Saturday confirmed the winner of Ireland's presidential vote. Higgins made a comeback in the final days of campaigning after trailing former favourite Sean Gallagher by some 15 points.

AFP - Irish poet and human rights activist Michael D. Higgins was officially confirmed as his country's ninth president on Saturday after a marathon two-day count.

The 70-year-old former culture minister for the Labour party, the junior partner in the coalition government in Dublin, beat off a ex-IRA commander and a reality TV star to succeed Mary McAleese in the ceremonial post.

At the Dublin Castle count centre, returning officer Riona Ni Fhlanghaile declared Higgins elected after he accumulated 1,007,104 votes after four counts, on a turnout of 56 percent.

Under Ireland's complicated election system, the winner needed at least 885,882 votes, which represents 50 percent of the valid votes plus one.

"As he has reached the quota I hereby declare Michael D. Higgins elected to the office of president of Ireland," Ni Fhlanghaile said.

Higgins took 39.6 percent of the first preference vote in the ballot on Thursday, and was named the de facto winner when his main rival, Sean Gallagher, conceded on Friday afternoon.

The victory represents a remarkable turnaround for Higgins, who was trailing about 15 points behind Gallagher before the independent businessman's campaign exploded in the final days of the campaign.

During a stormy televised debate on Monday, Sinn Fein candidate and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness accused Gallagher of collecting a 5,000-euro ($7,000) donation from a convicted criminal -- and his lead melted away.

A poll showed 28 percent of voters changed their minds in the final week of the campaign, with 58 percent of them switching from Gallagher to Higgins.

Married with three sons and a daughter, Higgins is a fluent Irish speaker, president of the soccer club in his Galway base in the west of Ireland and has had three books of poems published.

He recited his poetry on a live album by Irish rock band, The Stunning, and was a columnist for Irish music magazine Hot Press.

When he was arts minister in the 1990s he boosted the country's film industry, established an Irish language TV station and set up arts centres and theatres around the country.
 

Date created : 2011-10-29

  • IRELAND

    Leading contender concedes as ex-minister looks set for presidency

    Read more

  • IRELAND

    Voters head to polls in presidential election

    Read more

COMMENT(S)