A DECISION by Fine Gael to use a coin toss to decide which of two Independent TDs served first in a rotating Minister of State job has been described as “demeaning” by Fianna Faíl leader Micheál Martin.
TDs Sean Canney and Kevin “Boxer” Moran apparently agreed to flip a coin moments before their votes were needed to ensure Enda Kenny was returned as Taoiseach last week.
Deputy Canney won the toss and he will be the new Minister of State for the first year.
Despite Micheál Martin’s protestations, Ireland follows a list of similar precedents from around the world where the coin flipping process has been used to settle political deadlocks, including Britain, the US, the Philippines and Canada.
In the UK, if a local or national election has resulted in a tie where candidates receive exactly the same number of votes, then the winner can be decided either by coin flip, drawing straws/lots or drawing a high card in pack of cards.
Although this has only happened in local elections but never in an election to the House of Commons, according to the BBC.
Worksop North East seat in Bassetlaw District Council was won by Labour on the toss of a coin in 2000 after three recounts.
Christopher Underwood-Frost, a Conservative councillor in Lincolnshire held his seat by the toss of a coin in 2007. And control of Stirling District Council was decided by cutting a deck of cards on two occasions in 1988 and 1992.
In the US in February 2016 in the first vote to decide the Democrat Party presidential candidates, several results were decided on the toss of a coin.
Hillary Clinton clinched victory in all six coin flips over her rival Bernie Sanders in Iowa’s Democratic caucuses contest.
The flips became one of the night’s biggest talking points, and within hours the coin had its own Twitter profile.
In 2013 the Mayor of San Teodoro, a town in the central Philippines, was ultimately chosen by a coin toss in 2013 after two rival candidates both received 3,236 votes apiece.