Turnout was the key to Ireland’s 2024 local and European elections. Only half the electorate voted compared to a 62% turnout at the 2020 general election.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s ability to get their vote out saw them share 46% of first preferences and over 490 seats on county councils. Fine Gael gained the most first preference votes with 23%. Fianna Fáil was slightly behind in terms of votes, but won a couple more seats than its coalition partners.

The Green Party fared less well, losing half its seats. It now has 23 seats on local councils, the same as Independent Ireland, the new kid on the block. Labour and the Social Democrats finished ahead of those with 56 and 35 seats respectively.

The big story of the election, however, was Sinn Féin. It had led in opinion polls for the last four years, at times by over 10%, but saw its vote evaporate on polling day.

In the end, it gained over 100 seats, 20 more than in the abysmal 2019 performance, but its vote was less than half that of either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.

The suddenness of this drop in support meant Sinn Féin had too many candidate in many local electoral areas - in all they had only four fewer candidates than Fine Gael, with 200,000 fewer votes to go round.

The tide went out so suddenly for Sinn Féin that it’s hard to work out exactly what went wrong for the party.

However, the fact so many young people are either on holidays after their college year or working abroad for the summer may have hurt.

Five years ago, it quickly rebounded from a poor showing in June to become the leading party in the general election held just eight months later. Repeating that trick may prove more difficult. Where did Sinn Féin’s votes go? Not all of them stayed at home.

The answer is to a wide spectrum of candidates. Some were far-right candidates leading on the issue of immigration, asylum seekers, and homelessness. Independent Ireland took votes straight from Sinn Féin in our survey from two weeks ago, which showed them drop from 13% to 6% in terms of farmer support.

These surveys have always seen Sinn Féin support among farmers much lower than the support levels expressed by the general public, generally being at about half.

Sinn Féin gained about 12% of first preference votes last Friday, so our survey was accurate, when that doubling effect was taken into account.