After the 1973 general election, Fianna Fáil found itself outnumbered in the Dáil by Fine Gael and Labour. Eager to govern having spent more than a decade in Opposition, the two parties formed a coalition government - beginning a trend that continues on to this day. Despite their success, the confidence of the two parties was rather shaky. The last time they had been in government was in the second Inter-Party coalition from 1957 to 1959. Neither had managed more than three years at a time in government since Fianna Fáil began governing in 1932.
The confidence displayed by Fianna Fáil, even in Opposition, was unmatched. Twice in the past 14 years, Fianna Fáil had attempted to introduce the First Past the Post electoral system to Irish politics, though both attempts were rejected by the electorate. Fine Gael and Labour, shaken by their perennial Opposition status, would have been all but annihilated by such a system. In the late 1960s the two parties considered an official merger in order to form a stronger alternative to Fianna Fáil, though this idea did not come to fruition.
When the two parties found themselves in government, therefore, they were anxiously aware of the possibility of being replaced by Fianna Fáil in the next election. In an effort to avoid this, the government pursued a by now well-worn course of action: amending the electoral constituency boundaries.
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Many of the revisions saw drastic changes in constituencies across the country:
- In Dublin, the city was carved into nine 3-seat constituencies, with the county divided into five more (including a 4-seat Dún Laoghaire). Some of these constituencies spilled in to neighbouring Kildare and Wicklow.
- Connacht also saw some notable changes with the extension of Galway into northern Clare.
- Ulster saw Donegal unified and Cavan and Monaghan merged into a single constituency which has remained in place since.
- In Leinster, outside of Dublin, Carlow-Kilkenny expanded in to Wexford while Meath took parts of Kildare and Louth - Tully was particularly interested in maximising the Labour vote in Meath as it was his own constituency.
- Munster saw relatively minor chages, the only notable exception being the merging of the two Cork city constituencies into one, the restoration of Waterford and a new border dividing Tipperary.