A turnout of just 30% in Cork North-Central has been put down to a lack of excitement among voters who know they will be returning to the polls in the coming months.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney made the comment at Nemo Rangers, where counting for the Cork North-Central byelection continues.
Mr Coveney said Fine Gael is pleased with its performance which puts the party in a strong position ahead of next year's General Election.
Fine Gael candidate, Senator Colm Burke, looks set to miss out on the seat to Fianna Fáil's Pádraig O'Sullivan. However, Mr Burke secured some 5,385 first preference votes, a strong showing as far as the party is concerned.
"It was a low turnout so it is hard to read too much into the result but it is hard to get people excited about a by-election when they know there will be a general election in the next six to eight months," Mr Coveney said.
"Our focus in Cork North-Central was to build Colm Burke's profile for the General Election and to maximise our vote in a constituency which has been a tough constituency for us in the last few elections," he said.
We went from 18% to between 21% and 22%. It puts Colm Burke in a great position going into the General Election.
Mr Coveney said that Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin will both likely be happy with their vote, as is Fine Gael.
"The story of Cork North-Central is the collapse of the hard left," he said.
"People Before Profit-Solidarity candidate Mick Barry got 16.5% in the last general election and they are less than 5% now and the Greens and Labour have both gained and taken a lot of that vote. I think it points to a picture of the next election of one Fine Gael, one Fianna Fail, one Sinn Féin and a battle for the last seat."