Betting on politics: the Irish presidency

The Irish presidency has rolled around again. Matthew Partridge looks at how the betting market rates the main contenders.


Higgins is running for re-election
(Image credit: 2018 Getty Images)

I haven't really covered Irish politics in this column, but the upcoming presidential election looks an interesting opportunity. Unlike America, the Irish presidency is largely symbolic, with real power residing with the taoiseach and parliament. This year incumbent Michael Higgins (who won in the second round in 2011) is running for re-election, and seeking to be the first president to seek two terms in office since amon de Valera in 1966.

Both Ladbrokes and Paddy Power are offering odds on the winner. Paddy Power has the best odds on Higgins at 1/6 (85.7%), but Ladbrokes is the best on four of the other candidates: Sen Gallagher at 13/2 (13.3%), Gavin Duffy at 18/1 (5.3%), Joan Freeman at 28/1 (3.4%) or Liadh N Riada at 33/1 (2.9%). Paddy Power is offering 66/1 on Peter Casey, the sixth contender. Betfair is offering slightly more generous odds on most of the field: 1.22 (81.9%) on Higgins, 9.8 (10.2%) on Gallagher, 22 (4.5%) on Duffy and 40 (2.5%) on Freeman although N Riada is 9.6 (10.4%).

Higgins is well liked, and has the support of three out of the four main Irish parties (Fine Gael, Fianna Fil and Labour). The only poll, conducted last month has him getting 67% of first-preference votes which would be enough for him to win outright without the need to count second preferences. While there are three presidential debates to go, and a minor news story about presidential expenses in the press, I think that you should take Betfair's 1.22 on Higgins.

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Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri