28 February 1973: General Election held on this day in the Republic of Ireland. As a result of which Fianna Fáil under Jack Lynch lost power. Fianna Fail (Jack Lynch) [above] won 69 seats; Fine Gael
(Liam Cosgrave) 54 seats and the Labour Party (Brendan Corish) 19 seats in Leinster House. As FF had not won an overall majority the way was open for the two Opposition Parties to form a Government. It was the first time there had been a change of Government since 1957.
Liam Cosgrave of Fine Gael was elected as Taoiseach on 14 March as head of a coalition government ‘the National Coalition’ between the Fine Gael and Labour parties. The prospective Coalition had issued a joint 14-point programme for change prior to the Election that emphasised bread and butter issues and a promise of social reform. The Arms Crises of 1970, the continuing violence in the North, had damaged Fianna Fail. The coercive legislation brought in to deal with the IRA south of the Border did nothing to strengthen their perceived ‘Republican’ credentials. The Economy was performing poorly and the heightened economic expectations of the 1960’s were not transferred into the early years of the decade. Basically though after so many years in power the people just wanted a change anyway and to give the others a chance.
Coverage of the general election by the national broadcaster RTE also saw a unique event. Jack Lynch, in an interview that night with Brian Farrell became the first Taoiseach to concede defeat live on Irish television. Although the full result was not known Lynch was certain that the transfers to other candidates would result in Fianna Fáil losing the general election.