Latest Polls: Rise of ‘independents and others’ may make Ireland ungovernable for years

So two polls yesterday. One, a national one for Red C which seems to unwind the apparent progress for Sinn Fein and drops the Fine Gael party just a little closer to that bulging political peloton in the bottom twenties…

With don’t knows squeezed to 9% very few are being drawn to support any of the large parties.

The latest TG4 poll (error -/+5%), national politics is being steadily abandoned in favour of local voices that have no discernable national platform. Kerry looks like returning two Healy Raes, one in the south and the other in the north.

  • Michael Healy-Rae (Independent) 33%
  • Jimmy Deenihan (Fine Gael) 13%
  • Brendan Griffin (Fine Gael) 13%
  • John Brassil (Fianna Fáil) 11%
  • Arthur Spring (Labour) 8%
  • Martin Ferris (Sinn Féin) 7%
  • Norma Moriarty (Fianna Fáil) 6%
  • Danny Healy-Rae (Independent) 4%

As with Donegal the high error rate makes these figures much less reliable than a national, so its advisable to treat them with caution.  but it does suggests two sitting TDs may be in trouble.

That they are both in the north of the county which is new to the Healy Raes suggest Arthur Spring and Martin Ferris are under direct threat from that campaign. The huge surplus for Michael looks like the reason they threw Danny in at the last minute.

As Harry Magee notes:

Michael would have to be willing to cede some of his huge tally of first preferences to his brother. The Independent TD and his councillor brother have appealed to their supporters in the east of the county to favour Danny.

That national parties struggle to create a major register with voters who live in parishes far from the capital is another indication of structural fatigue in the Irish democratic system. As I noted at the end of this essay on Irish Water crisis..

The social and political gap between Dublin’s strategic view of the broader challenges and the parish’s often miserable experience of them needs careful bridging.

Judging by the low profile of reform in everyone’s manifesto the moves required to begin addressing the festering democratic deficits at county level will continue to chew up Dublin’s capacity to take any real decisions in the national or local interest.

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  • Kevin Breslin

    Rubbish, Paranoid Rubbish. If Toronto, Nebraska, Ontario, the Isle of Man and Guernsey can handle non-partisans, The Republic of Ireland will be able to cope with a few on the sidelines.

  • barnshee

    Brilliant –governments cannot get elected -are dependant on mavericks who jump ship at a moments notice- The bastards ability to interfere in individuals lives mitigated because they cant force thru legislation -super

  • Robin Keogh

    If it comes to it and Independents do bring home a huge number of TD’s i doubt it will prove impossible to form a government. Even if it is unstable and falls after a year or two; another election in those circumstances might well result in voters shifting pack to parties.

    It must also be remembered that dozens of independents are standing who have no hope of getting elected. They represent a mighty chunk of that support base which will transfer down the ticket and find a party at some point. Where they go is anyones guess.

    Combined FF FG at 45% shows a massive shift in the mood of voters, that will be the big story if it comes to pass. Kennys promise of abolishing the USC does not seem to be finding confidence amongst the electorate and FF are still struggling to get their message across. SF are bouncing up and down, God knows where they will land.

    Core Vote – FG 23, FF 17, SF 16, IND 17, Lab 7, Green 4, Renua 2, SD 1, AAA/PBP 1. Udecided 12.

    As for that Kerry poll seems incedible to me and bares little or no resemblence to the local election results. A bag of salt is needed there.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well the poll seems to suggest huge vote mismanagement in the Healy Rae Party could be costly. You’d think the government could get 2 seats here and Fianna Fáil if that happens.

    Healy Raes 37
    Government (FG/Lab) 34
    “Republicans” (FF/SF) 24
    Other 5

    The ones that haven’t been mentioned seem to have the critical say.

  • Robin Keogh

    I really dont buy that kery poll at all. Ferris has built up a huge support base in Kerry, 9% seems ridiculously low.

  • gendjinn

    “…may make Ireland ungovernable for years”

    *rolls eyes* I read this piece in Punch circa 1825.

  • gendjinn

    The OP appears not to know much, if anything, about politics in the free 26 counties. Anyone who could remember politics as far back as the 1980s knows this is not a problem nor are the Irish “ungovernable”.

    “Ungovernable” such an unfortunate choice of words but then again you spend too long swimming in Tory racist propaganda you believe it’s reality.

  • Kevin Breslin

    It’s by no means a certainty for Ferris, Ferris was partially elected in West Limerick last time around and their Kerry support is strongly confined to the North around Tralee. The Local government vote in Kerry would infer they might get a 15% vote which you’d think would mean home and dry (though even a percentage point short is not a formality).

    On the basis of local elections this is simply Ind(MHR), FG, FF, SF and 1 from FG-Lab or FF. The massive vote turnout by the Healy-Raes would put Sinn Féin’s seat at risk.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/elections/local-elections/kerry

  • the rich get richer

    There is a lot of Scare Tactics at play !

    Its very important for FG/Lab and even FF to get as many voters that are in any way inclined to vote for them having the Be-Jasus scared into them !

    Scaring the Be-Jasus out of people can be a great vote catcher !

  • John Collins

    I would suggest, as a West Limerick man,that the WL Sf vote was always and is now very low. Well respected and widely connected local men who ran under the SF banner, when WL was a full constituency, got very poor support indeed. I could not see an outsider like Martin Ferris having ever commanded a big vote there.

  • I find the TG4 poll giving Martin Ferris 7% in Kerry County constituency quite hard to believe. Sinn Féin has mostly been in the high teens to low twenties in Kerry County opinion polling percentages during the course of the 31st Dáil term.

    Take this year’s most recent Sinn Féin polling in the constituency:
    17th Feb. Red C, 23%;
    14th Feb. Red C, 21%;
    7th Feb. Red C, 18%;
    7th Feb. Millward Brown, 23%;
    7th Feb. B&A, 18%;
    4th Feb. Ipsos MRBI, 20%;
    31st Jan. Red C, 20%.

    With Kerry being a particular Sinn Féin stronghold, one of the first areas for a Sinn Féin TD to emerge during the Adams era, as well as the unprecedented levels of support for the party in the south since the 2011 Dáil election, it’s difficult not to doubt the reliability of this particular poll.

  • Greenflag 2

    The Telegraph and Times never tired of printing editorials on the multifarious reasons why the Irish could not be trusted to govern themselves in Britain’s interest . This penchant continues even today which is why Stormont is beholden to Westminster and why mandatory coalition is the soup de jour of NI politics such as it is .

  • Discuscutter

    Ferris will be a close to the quota on the first count. He will be the 3rd elected after MHR and then Deenihan. There is no way in Gods earth is on 7, he will get more than that from the most rabidly anti SF part.

    Healy Raes will not be close to 40% on election day.

    Norma and Spring are not at the races at all. Spring has no chance, if he bows out with 5000 votes at the end it will be a victory.

    Brassil and Ferris will do well off their eliminations.

    Brassil, Griffin should be ok for 4 and 5 but who knows with DHR.

  • Discuscutter

    Ferris will be a close to the quota on the first count. He will be the 3rd elected after MHR and then Deenihan. There is no way in Gods earth is on 7, he will get more than that from the most rabidly anti SF part.

    Healy Raes will not be close to 40% on election day.

    Norma and Spring are not at the races at all. Spring has no chance, if he bows out with 5000 votes at the end it will be a victory.

    Brassil and Ferris will do well off their eliminations.

    Brassil, Griffin should be ok for 4 and 5 but who knows with DHR.

  • Muiris

    Gosh, gendjinn, you are impressively old

  • gendjinn

    You’d think there’d be a modicum of credit for fixing the famine problem the British state couldn’t.

  • Gingray

    Mick
    The headline was interesting and I thought you might expand on how Ireland could be ungovernable.

    Instead you are focusing yet again on individual polls which, shock horror, are unfavorable to Sinn Fein.

    I imagine that in 1,3 or 5 years, Ireland will be happily governable with a great economy.

    Unfortunately we cannot say the same for Northern Ireland.

  • mac tire

    I think I get what Mick is saying about ‘ungovernable’, even if it is clumsy (to be kind).

    I’m more intrigued by the ‘for years’ part. C’mon, Mick, do tell.

  • mickfealty

    Thanks Mac. I thought the argument in the post was clear enough. I certainly was not advocating some kind of abject return to the bosom of the Empire. 😉

    How is it becoming ‘ungovernable’? Well, my own view it is (in part) the long slow unwinding corollary of Jack Lynch’s kiboshing of accountability at local government by getting rid of the domestic rate in 1977.

    People in the parish are resorting to local independents or those who most closely match their own particular individual views on a given set of subjects. And they are then sent to the Dail to scrum for the parish in opposition.

    Current governance systems (not just in Ireland) are poor at sorting through the myriad of subjects and deciding how to allocate national resources to address need at the parish level (see the link to the Irish Water post).

    Meanwhile, as the pork barrel system appears to be breaking down, government becomes an ordeal for those who take it on as the Dail slowly transmigrates into a giant super council rather than a national parliament.

    Example? TDs and Senators from Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein jumping on the anti pylon bandwagon and blocking the extension of HT lines up through midlands and over the border.

    In the broader context of those localist and shorter term actions the means of bringing functional energy infrastructure to the west and drawing back renewable energy into the wider grid, onto GB and Europe are dumped.

    These new super councillors don’t see it as their job to solve these wider issues in order to deal more effectively with the socio economic problems besetting their various parishes.

    To answer your direct question, it will be a while before we find ways to develop sufficient means of co-ordinating vision and prioritising actions that address the divergent needs the Independents and others are flagging.

    For interest, I’ll throw in Taleb’s idea of ‘antifragile’: http://goo.gl/RbQtVL.

  • mickfealty

    Don’t be silly folks.

  • mickfealty

    I think the party’s need to do something to re-earn that trust though. And to be fair in SF and FF there are signs that both have been working hard to signal substantive change in their outlook and approach.

  • mickfealty

    I didn’t conduct either of the polls. If you are struggling, why not try the last three paras?

    That national parties struggle to create a major register with voters who live in parishes far from the capital is another indication of structural fatigue in the Irish democratic system. As I noted at the end of this essay on Irish Water crisis..

    The social and political gap between Dublin’s strategic view of the broader challenges and the parish’s often miserable experience of them needs careful bridging.

    Judging by the low profile of reform in everyone’s manifesto the moves required to begin addressing the festering democratic deficits at county level will continue to chew up Dublin’s capacity to take any real decisions in the national or local interest.

  • mickfealty

    For those who failed to get as far as the last three paragraphs in the OP (I presume neither yourself or Kevin did), here’s a wee explainer: http://goo.gl/kcgyN1.

  • mickfealty

    I don’t disagree. With a +/-5% error margin, it’s all pure conjecture. It is likely that SF are piling up percentages well above these national rates in places like Dublin and well under in others.

    In Kerry, the FF machine is still enormous, even though their popular vote is way down. I suspect it is only the size and the spread of that machine that will get Brassil over the line.

    The main reason everyone (except FG) may get squeezed is through the size of a prospective Healy Rae vote. That’s certainly not seen in the council results. But nor was the Healy Rae brand as such.

    Half of Labour’s Tralee vote was eaten in 2014, and I’m pretty sure Arthur knows what’s coming well enough. SF’s core vote rose by 40%, but it is still more present in Tralee and Listowel than anywhere else in the county.

    Remember Ferris’s SF’s machine is narrower and smaller than everyone else’s but Labour’s in Kerry? If the Healy Rae surge is a pure phantom, well it doesn’t matter. Just staying ahead of Spring gets him home.

  • Robin Keogh

    His point is a valid one, that if the Dail ends up pebble dashed with a dozen different parties and dozens of independents if could happen that we are in for a period of unstable coalitions leading to a cycle of elections in relatively quick succession.

  • gendjinn

    Oh dear. If you wanted people to read your article you shouldn’t have trotted out a false stereotype of the Irish oft repeated by the British and Unionists down the centuries. It’s a little bit racist and quite a lot rude.

  • gendjinn

    Ungovernable: not capable of being governed, guided, or restrained

    Hardly an apt description of the reality facing us. And a very poor choice of words given how it was used and abused by colonisers, imperialists and racists throughout the history of various empires. Although most familiar to us Irish through its regular use by the British empire with regard to ourselves.

  • gendjinn

    Famines are silly now?

  • mickfealty

    No. But the premise of this whole sub thread is.

  • mickfealty

    You have some interesting baggage to unpack from just one word gengjinn, but do please remember the cardinal rule of the site?

    If you really cannot bring yourself to address the argument no one is compelling you to comment?

  • Gingray

    Oh come on Mick, those last three paragraphs barely reflect your headline. The fact that you do not even mention the term ungovernable again reflects a failure to reflect within the blog, what is of major interest to many.

    In regards the polls, we both know I was not suggesting you conducted them, but thanks for adding that. You have posted up 3 blogs about polls since the election began – they have one common theme – Sinn Fein drops.

    You may have picked up on the fact that I think selective picking of polls can provide a biased picture of what is happening – this is merely proof of it.

  • mickfealty

    You don’t actually disagree with my use of it above though do you Greenie?

  • mickfealty

    Is there something in the post you are finding hard to digest?

    I made one comment on the first and added useful context for the second. The highlight (which your comments seem to be consistently missing) was the rise of independents and others, not the ‘drop’ in SF.

    If you miss that then of course you really are missing the point of the post.

  • Kevin Breslin

    We’ve ignored polls before. and they’ve proved to be right The truth will have to be seen on the ground.

  • Jollyraj

    “I read this piece in Punch circa 1825.”

    No, you didn’t.

  • barnshee

    Well you might say they did after a fashion -they have absorbed millions of Irish who would have starved if they had stayed behind after 1920

  • gendjinn

    “…but do please remember the cardinal rule of the site?”

    I know it used to be something about ball and man but now I think it’s changed to something like. Don’t acknowledge any events that portray the British or Unionist states in a poor light? But do run 50 to a 100 articles on an anti-Republican story, like the made up #OTRs?

  • mickfealty

    Ditto Robin’s comments.

  • Gingray

    Mick
    The last three paragraphs do not address the premise of the post. Absolute bonkers.

    In the outgoing Dail, TDs from the main 4 parties account for 134 of the 165, the remainder being true independents and members of smaller parties.

    Even with the numbers above Adrian Kavanagh is predicting that independents and the smaller parties will have 43 seats, a bit over a quarter of the 158 TDs.

    FG and FF will have more over half between them.

    My issue is that you are basing your sensationalist, yet unexplored, headline on a single poll which happens to have FG and SF at a nadir, and independents at their highest of the campaign. It is poor polling analysis, which unfortunately is very common in Northern Ireland.

    Regards the SF bit, perhaps I am giving you far too much credit here. Perhaps it is purely coincidence that every poll you blog about happens to be one featuring bad news for Sinn Fein. Its not as if you have form for it …

  • Greenflag 2

    Ungovernable to me seems a bridge too far particularly after one election . Now a second election within 12 months resulting from failure to find an effective coalition that would be a step along the road to ‘ungovernability ‘ But even then it could take a series of messy election results to cross the ‘ungovernability ‘ boundary. Irish voters are very patient in these matters However throw another world recession into the mix or another banking crisis and your maybe could be right . I honestly have no idea how this election is going to turn out .Which is probably the way it should be unless you are a fan of pre 1974 Stormont elections or the former Soviet Union consistency of ‘one party ‘ so called democratic elections .:)
    For the record -I’m not .

  • Discuscutter

    I’m talking to people involved in several camps. Ferris has a big base and he gets lots of transfers and no one in Kerry seems to believe that that has substantially changed.

    He has a solid block of 9000 votes that will come out for him no matter the circumstances.

    He’ll do really well of Spring and Norma’s votes, they are all local to him, he did well off transfers from Jimmy Deenihan in the last election. He’ll do really well of MHR transfers if he is indeed that high. Which no one believes he is.

    If anything this poll will will be good for him as it might scare people to throw a vote to him if they think he is in trouble.

    Politically SF on the ground is a much more formidable election machine this time than it was in 2007.

    Anything is possible but the people canvassing on the ground for all parties will be the ones most shocked by this.

  • Greenflag 2

    Mick ‘localism ‘ goes back a long time before Jack Lynch’s ‘kiboshing ‘of local councils . In the early days of the Free State -De Valera had to curtail the ‘spending ‘ powers of local councils before they bankrupted the country . Becoming a local councillor then became merely a career stop on the way to becoming a TD or preferably a MInister so that as you put it ‘pork ‘ could be delivered to your local supporters . The big picture was never seen . But then that was just a continuation of pre independence politics anyway where London was as remote as Charleston -South Carolina is from Washington DC .

    There are a lot of giant super councils in the EU today that used to be called national parliaments . Some people in the UK think thats a good enough reason to Brexit as it were . The global economy thinks otherwise .

  • Kev Hughes

    I’d agree with you, but if you listen to the IT Politics podcast withe Healy-Raes today, they pointed something very interesting out; the poll was released before Danny even announced his candidateship and even they are saying Ferris will get in easily enough.

    Maybe they’re spoofing, I don’t think they are.