Our Modern Irish History Lecturer Dr Elaine Callinan has published her book ‘Electioneering and Propaganda in Ireland, 1917-21. Votes, Violence and Victory‘.
This book provides an illuminating and unique analysis of the political rivalry between all the major parties during Ireland’s revolutionary years. Politicians, propagandists and their voluntary supporters instigated forceful election campaigns to promote ideologies and influence the minds of ordinary people. The goal was victory at the ballot box during the by-elections, general elections and local government elections of this era.
The key aims of Electioneering and Propaganda in Ireland, 1917-21, Votes Violence and Victory’ are to ask:
- How did parties in this era select candidates to represent and propagate their policies and ideals?
- How did they raise finances in Ireland and abroad to fund expensive propaganda campaigns?
- What were the methods of propaganda used to disseminate ideas?
- What were the persuasive themes used in an attempt to convert voters?
- What was the outcome of the 1917-1918 by-elections, the 1918 general election, the 1920 local elections and the 1921 ‘partition’ election?
The 1918 election was the first modern election in the British Isles with its mass media-style propaganda campaigns, systemisation of electoral practice, and democratization of the electorate. Dominant political actors introduced diametrically opposed opinions on common themes such as the Great War, conscription, the Easter Rising, and partition to uphold or condemn discordant stances. Fundamental lofty ideals and contentious political wranglings played out in election propaganda to convert voters.
The elections of this era were unique as now there was competition, instead of the single-issue character of past Irish politics. A new pattern of support emerged from voters in a vastly increased electorate where ordinary people began to engage with political affairs. The 1917-18 by-elections, 1918 general election, the 1920 local elections and the 1921 ‘partition’ election motivated and inspired the majority of people to engage in decisions that subsequently altered the course of Irish history. The victors went on to dominate government across the island for the next fifty years. It is from this election that we can trace the true beginnings of Dáil Éireann, the Northern Ireland parliament, and the development of the modern political landscape north and south.