Presidential elections are conducted under the Presidential Elections Act 1993, as amended. The President of Ireland is formally elected by the citizens of Ireland once in every seven years, except in the event of premature vacancy, when an election must be held within sixty days. Constitutionally, the election must be held not more than 60 days before the ending of the term of office of the incumbent, or within 60 days of the office becoming vacant. The exact date will be fixed by an order made by the Minister for the Environment,Heritage and Local Government.
In the event that more than one candidate is nominated, elections are conducted under the single trasnferable vote (STV) electoral system, which in this case is equivalent to alternative vote (AV) system, since STV and AV are identical in single-winner contests. While both Irish and UK citizens resident in the state may vote in elections to Dàil Eireann (the lower house of parliament), only Irish citizens of at least eighteen years of age may vote in the election of the President.
The presidency is open to all citizens of the state who are at least 35. To qualify, candidates must:
- be a citizen of the state
- be over 35 years of age
- be nominated by:
- At least twenty serving members of the Oireachtas (parliament), or
- At least four county or city councils, or
- Him- or herself (in the case of an incumbent or former president that has served one term).
The election order will declare the last day on which nominations may be received. If a member of the Oireachtas or a County or City council nominate more than one candidate, only the first nomination paper received from them will be deemed valid.
If there is only a single candidate they will be deemed elected without a poll.For this reason, where there is a consensus among political parties, the President may be ‘elected’ without the occurrence of an actual ballot. No one may serve as President for more than two terms.