Polls: Ireland’s two party system dead as four blocks slip into their electoral trenches

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So, two Irish polls this weekend. Not sure what to make of either of them to be honest, since there’s a divergence between them in FG’s rating of some 9%. The B&A poll in the Sunday Times has Fine Gael dropping like stone from 30% to 21%, whilst Sindo/Millward Brown has them on 29% (no change).

Here’s the adjusted figures:

  • Sunday Times/B&A poll: FG 21 (-9 since end Feb), FF 20 (+1), SF 20 (+2), Lab 9 (unchanged), Greens 4 (+1), Inds/others 26 (+5). Poll 6-16 April
  • Sindo/Millward Brown: FG 29 (-2 since end Feb), Lab 6 (-2), FF 22 (+1), SF 20 (-1), Inds/ors 23 (+1).

Core support in the B&A poll is a few points lower in each case with FG and Independents both on 18, Fianna Fail on 17 and Sinn Fein 16 (a virtual three way tie). Undecideds account for 24%.

It’s hard to know what to make of the anomaly other than there’s a softness in FG’s vote after a nightmare run in to next month’s local elections. B&A don’t measure as often as Red C who had them on 26% at the end of March.

Arguably the party in biggest trouble remains Labour, not least in its Dublin stronghold, where SF is poised to make substantial gains from that quarter:

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In Dublin the independent figure comprises strong preferences for parties of the left. The number of Dublin councillors of the 2009 intake who left to take up seats in the Dail or the Seanad indicates how important these elections are for seeding new talent.

One of the things to look out for on the day are the changes to Dublin City Council, and the region more broadly. As Adrian Kavanagh noted last September:

There currently are 130 councillors in the four different local authorities covering the Dublin region, with Dublin City (52 councillors) being the largest of these followed by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown (28), South Dublin (26) and Fingal (24). The number of councillors in this region will increase significantly at the next local elections, with the number of councillors increasing by 16 in Fingal (a 67% increase), 14 in South Dublin (54%), 12 in Dun Laoghaire (43%) and 11 in Dublin City (21%).

This notable increase in overall councillor numbers (53) in the Dublin region does offer a “political opportunity space” to allow different candidates and political parties to make notable gains at the 2014 local elections.[emphasis added]

Looking at the overall results from five years ago you can see just how profoundly the political landscape changed both in 2011 general election and in the polling subsequent to that:

FG, then on the way up, polled 34.7% of the first preference vote (FPV), FF on the way down were at 25%, Labour pre Gilmore Gale got 14.2%, SF were squeezed a little at 7.8%. Independents took 15.6% in City and County councils with none of the left parties taking more than a full percentage point each.

If there was any doubt before the landscape of Irish politics has already changed, and changed profoundly. The two party system of old is gone, and there are now four blocks roughly of equal size all slugging it out in hundreds of contests across the country.

All we need now is an electoral poll to shake out all the speculation.

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  • Mc Slaggart

    Mick Fealty,

    ” there’s a softness in FG’s vote”

    Its called water charges…..

  • Mick Fealty

    And one or two other things…. The misstep of Noonan on the Garda whistleblower should not be underestimated. He’s been underwriting Enda credibility from the off…

    It should also be noted that the new Government was not exactly sitting on a thick raft of goodwill when it took over.

    Lifelong FFers who jumped ship in 2011 were not joyfully doling out FP elsewhere, it was a grim means to an end.

    Appropriate quote is from the Sayers translation of the first stanza from Dante’s Inferno:

    “Midway this way of life we’re bound upon,
    I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
    Where the right road was wholly lost and gone.”

    Nice kindling for SF, but even they can get burnt in the longer run, if they inadvertently land themselves with power before they’re ready…

  • Mick Fealty

    That quote is intended to describe Ireland’s state, not just the mid term blues of this government…

  • Nordie Northsider

    Rightly or wrongly, a recent ‘not guilty on all counts’ verdict will also have an impact. Of course the legal system is independent, and of course the jury had to work with what was put before them, but the episode feeds in to a feeling that the system is rotten and the Government parties will feel the sting of it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Plausible deniability is a favourite defence of the indefensible in Ireland north and south. As one of the boys, Seanie attracted much political hatred, as Chair he was always going to be hard to nail.

  • megatron

    Getting legal advice saying no problem and approval from financial regulator goes a bit beyond plausible deniability.

  • Politico68

    Does anybody know what the ratings were for the various party leaders? Mick, can u help us out here?

  • Mick Fealty

    If you look back on my polling analysis you’ll see I never quote those. As it happens Gerry leads in both, but in Millward Brown you can see all party leaders attract deeply negative approval figures. In Gerry’s case he gets -28, with Martin just behind him on -30.

    The only coherent thing this tells us is that the Irish people have had it with all political parties and their leaders.

  • Greenflag

    “The only coherent thing this tells us is that the Irish people have had it with all political parties and their leaders.”

    Which is paralleled in the UK and perhaps NI and the USA and is a reflection of how ordinary voters in the west feel about how their their so called democratic government has addressed the economic downturn brought about by the worldwide looting of the international bankster gangsters from 1998 (Repeal of Glass Stegal Act ) to the present .From the City of Londo to Wall St they’ve seen the banks and major corporations get bigger and bigger while the middle class gets smaller and poorer and the bottom 20% of the population are squeezed even more,

    Fine Gael became the major party after FF’s near wipe out NOT because the plain people of Ireland believed that FG were the goodies come to rescue the people from financial policy insanities but simply because they were the only party that could provide a Government . If you recall the people also elected Labour with it’s highest ever number of seats to be a check on FG’s neo con proclivities .

    The Irish Labour Party is seen as having largely failed in any attempt it made to restrict FG’s right wing drift .

    FF have failed to provide much of an opposition and the independents are a disparate lot .

    Given the above it should’nt be a surprise that SF are doing better in the Republic than might have been foreseen a few years ago .

    That doesn’t mean the people will buy a pig in a poke from SF . They’ll have to formulate economic policies for the Republic which make sense for the current situation . What they do or have achieved in Northern Ireland will be much less of a factor for most voters . Voters in the Republic instinctively cloud out NI as being a kind of twilight zone where the normal rules of democracy have had to be sidelined in favour of the mandatory GFA power sharing which for all it’s faults is still an improvement over blood on the streets and another generation of stupid sectarian violence or worse .

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s a two way street GF… There is very little read through from N to S either. The clouding out is hardly volitional, it just is the way it has been. Having GA in the DAIL shifts that marginally, I think. But most southern politics goes over the heads of all but the most anorak of northern anoraks.

    These Elections will tell us a lot about the future track of politics in the south. Opposition parties need every advantage they can squeeze not least because House prices are rising again and money is starting to flow.

    SF ‘own’ the anti austerity territory just as long as they don’t do anything stupid like having to prove their credentials in Government!!

  • Mc Slaggart

    Greenflag

    “cloud out NI as being a kind of twilight zone where the normal rules of democracy have had to be sidelined in favour of the mandatory GFA power sharing which for all it’s faults is still an improvement over blood on the streets and another generation of stupid sectarian violence or worse .”

    I think same view is held by most people in Tyrone.

  • Politico68

    Mick, i love this

    “….SF ‘own’ the anti austerity territory just as long as they don’t do anything stupid like having to prove their credentials in Government!!”

    I hope to God they can avoid government in the South for at least one more term. I think the forcing of a FF/FG coalition would be good for the country in many ways; not least by finally showing the common Joe that both parties are basically the same animal but more importantly because it would open up an opportunity to create a real Left/ Right political divide in the state. Long overdue.

    I am not concerned as to the preparedness of SF for government. In terms of policies including economic management they are ready for coalition. The transformation of the party over the last ten years from naive outsider to confident contender has been pretty impressive. We see Mary Lou, Doherty, Tobin etc. as clearly bright articulate and competent individuals, but what we do not see are the huge numbers of equally capable, younger Shinners coming behind them.

    I understand why many people are anxious for SF to get into government in Dublin asap, not least the fact that SF in Dublin basically means Dublin pulling Stormonts strings and that is indeed a prize to itch for. However, I think the political power of Nationalism in Stormont will be that much greater by 2020, add that to a powerful SF presence in Dublin we have the makings a powerful base from which to push Unity over the line. 2023 will see the Nationalist Vote overtake that on Unionism and with FF in the picture there will most likely be a rebirth of the Pan Nationalist Front. I wish everybody was me right now. Just to feel the level of anticipation and excitement of whats to come. Hot Dang its good !!

  • Mc Slaggart

    Politico68

    “Pan Nationalist Front”

    Why would you need such an approach?

    The Belfast pale should be left to work things out for itself over a long period of time.

    That does not stop the border counties sorting out issues that make things work better.

  • Greenflag

    Mick.

    ‘These Elections will tell us a lot about the future track of politics in the south.’

    I think we’ll have to wait for the next General Election to see that road more clearly .

    @ McSlaggart

    “I think same view is held by most people in Tyrone.’

    Then I highly commend the good people of Tyrone for their intelligence and observational powers ;)

  • Greenflag

    Politico 68,

    ‘because it would open up an opportunity to create a real Left/ Right political divide in the state. Long overdue’

    There was time when I too would have favoured that realignment as being a necessary prerequisite for policy progress whether from the left or right.

    If we look around us at the wider world beyond these shores is there any evidence that in countries where the right/ left or centre right/centre left political divide of alternative governments has proven to be winning policy formula ? It seems as if in these days of globalisation and international banksters rule it hardly matters any more whether a politician is of the left or right . They are all running scared of upsetting our real rulers i.e Goldman Satan Sachs a.k.a the Vampire Squid and Bank of Beelzebub America and HNBC “drug money world champion launderer ” :(

    I’m afraid the Republic may catch up on the modern right left divide just in time to see it become extinct in so far as having any real relevance to resolve current worldwide financial /monetary and fiscal /currency valuation issues .

    But on balance it probably would be a good thing if only to bury the Irish Civil War divide !

  • Mick Fealty

    Completely agree on that triumvirate. I think Pádraig McLochlainn holds his own too.

    Consider the temptation of government in 2016, against playing mudguard for FG? I don’t think FF will go there unless they can play top banana.

    This is a long game now, in a state with sovereign responsibility to its own electorate. That’s the opportunity and the danger. Interesting times indeed.

  • Politico68

    “Why would you need such an approach?”

    Nationalism will have to unite to deliver Unity, they will (regardless of political differences) have to sing from the same hymn sheet to convince Northern nationalists of the benifits. SF/SDLP/FF together will bring to light the fact that no matter how much nationalists might have felt isolated from the ‘free state’ – that isolation and partitionist rhetoric is gone.

    “The Belfast pale should be left to work things out for itself over a long period of time.

    That does not stop the border counties sorting out issues that make things work better.”

    Sorry, i dont know what you mean by the above two sentences, if you would like to expand maybe?

  • Politico68

    Greenflag, I partly agree with you. I think what you are talking about there is ‘convergence’? and indeed it has been a politcal phenomonan, particularly in the context of international relations and the globalization of economics. However, I think SF in their policies might manage to form a new although not very radical approach.
    The International economic community is a tangled web in which very small flies like Ireland are pretty much trapped. However, (and this is central to SF ideology) domestic policy can take a different track, as Mary Lou has pointed out – you have to have a bit of cop on and a back bone.
    Here, she is talking about decisions based on choices, in other words, you have to make the numbers add up but we are sovereign in the domestic decision making process.
    It is possible to narrow the inequality gap, without exiting the international capitalist ideal.
    It is possible to have tighter government regulation without scaring off FDI.
    It is possible to increase taxes on the wealthy to a sustainable point for the good of the economy, so long as the increase is competitive.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Hot Dang its good !!

    Interesting times indeed.

    Maybe. If a week is a long time in politics (Harold Wilson), how long is a year or how much longer is 9 years?

  • Mc Slaggart

    Politico68

    “That does not stop the border counties sorting out issues that make things work better.”

    With the new local government in “Northern Ireland” a lot of issues will be sorted out in a cross border manner.

    The direct ones will be important but more important will be the issues sorted out because “Belfast” does not work.

  • Greenflag

    Politico68 ,

    I largely agree with your comment above . I might question SF’s new approach whenever I see it ;)

    As to whats possible -indeed – assuming the internationalist capitalist ideal -retreats from it’s current headlong rush over the precipice and delivers us back to the 1930′s and it’s alternative totalitarianisms .

    As you say Ireland nor any country bar the largest economies has the power to rein in the out of control wild horses of worldwide economic apocalypse . What’s worrying is that the largest economies seem just about able for now to sit on said wild horses saddles but have long since let go the reins and will be taken by said horses they know not where -they may be hoping for the best as they are dragged over the precipice and the rest of us along with them :(

  • Greenflag

    error above-should read

    assuming the internationalist capitalist ideal -retreats from it’s current headlong rush over the precipice and DOESN’T deliver us back to the 1930′s and it’s alternative totalitarianisms .

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “Ireland’s two party system dead”

    Mick,

    I’ve got news for you: the two-party system has been dead for a quarter century. From the 1950s or 1960s there was a 2.5 party system with FG and Labour combined being almost able to balance FF. Then in the mid-1980s the PDs came along and FF weakened with a system of two rival blocs: FF and the PDs as one coalition versus FG, Labour and the Democratic Left as the other. This lasted through most of the peace process until both the PDs and Dem Left gave up the ghost, the latter through a merger with Labour. Starting in the late 1980s the Workers’ Party emerged, which in 1992 became Dem Left. About the time Dem Left merged with Labour, SF began to emerge in the South to replace it. SF took over many of the old Workers’ Party/Dem Left constituencies. And the Greens also emerged. So, from about 1986 there have been at least four parties in the Republic: two major and two or three minor. What evolved in the Republic during the peace process was a set of two rival blocs similar to those in Israel from 1973 to 2001, except that in Israel there are many more parties.