143 of 144 seats in Dáil Éireann
73 seats needed for a majority
Percentage of seats gained by each of the five biggest parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.
The 1961 Irish general election was held on 4 October 1961, just over three weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 8 September. The newly elected members of the 17th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 11 October, when the new Taoiseach and government were appointed.
The general election took place in 38 parliamentary constituencies throughout Ireland for 144 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann, which had been reduced in size by three seats from the previous election.
The general election of 1961 saw the three main parties being led by three new leaders. Seán Lemass had taken charge of Fianna Fáil in 1959. It was also the first time Fianna Fáil faced a general election campaign without Éamon de Valera (who was by this time President of Ireland). James Dillon had taken over at Fine Gael in 1959 also, while the Labour Party was now under the leadership of Brendan Corish.
While the election was caused by the "crisis" surrounding Ireland's application for membership of the European Economic Community and various other international affairs, little attention was paid to these matters during the campaign; the 1961 general election has become known as the dullest campaign on record, with the most important issue being the teaching of the Irish language in schools. Fianna Fáil fought the election on its record in government and a reforming theme; Fine Gael presented itself as the party of free enterprise. The Labour Party campaigned strongly against the "conservative" Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parties. It also favoured major expansion in the public sector. It was the first and only general election for the new National Progressive Democrats party led by Noël Browne.
|17th Irish general election – 4 October 1961|
|Fianna Fáil||Seán Lemass||70||-8||48.6||512,073||43.8||-4.5|
|Fine Gael||James Dillon||47||+7||32.6||374,099||32.0||+5.4|
|Sinn Féin||Paddy McLogan||0||-4||0||36,396||3.1||-2.2|
|Clann na Talmhan||Joseph Blowick||2||-1||1.4||17,693||1.5||-0.9|
|Clann na Poblachta||Seán MacBride||1||0||0.7||13,170||1.1||-0.6|
|National Progressive Democrats||Noël Browne||2||New||1.4||11,490||1.0||-|
|Christian Democratic Party||0||New||0||1,132||0.1||-|
|Irish Workers' League||Michael O'Riordan||0||New||0||277||0.0||-|
The opposition parties gained ground on Fianna Fáil, while Sinn Féin failed to defend the four seats it had won in the previous election.