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Irish Presidential election unlikely to produce third woman president

27 Oct, 2011

Ireland goes to the polls to elect a new President today, with the likelihood that it will wake up tomorrow with a male head of state for the first time in over twenty years.

The country's first female President - Mary Robinson - was elected in 1990, and she was followed in 1997 by Mary McAleese, becoming the first female elected head of state to hand over to another woman.

This time, however, although there are two women candidates amongst the seven hopefuls on the ballot paper, neither is amongst the front-runners. Both are standing as Independents, Mary Davis having been Chief Executive of the Special Olympics and Dana Scallon an MEP (and in her youth a Eurovision-winning singer).

Polls are not published before the ballot, but Irish bookies have both women candidates bottom of the list with 3% of the vote each, whilst the leaders are Labour's Michael D Higgins (a 70-year-old poet) and the youngest candidate, the Independent Sean Gallagher, an entrepreneur and TV personality through his appearences on the Irish Dragons' Den.

The role of President in Ireland is largely ceremonial, but can be very influential in certain areas.

The result will be known on Friday, but either way it looks as though the Irish tradition of male-dominated politics will reassert itself after twenty-one years of being represented by two remarkable women.