FG take lion's share of disaffected FF voters

More Fianna Fail voters switched their support to Fine Gael than to Sinn F

  • Keith M

    This is something I’ve been saying since the weekend the results were announced. I’m actually a tad surprised that the scale of the FG vs SF defections would be even more heavy skewed towards FG, but that could be the result of the (mainly economically right of centre) company I keep.

    It suits FF to portray SF as competing for their voters for a couple of reasons. Firstly anything that boosts FG and the viability of an alternative FG/Labour/Green coalition after the next election election is bad news for FG. Thinking back to 2002, FG and and Labour lost out because they were not a credible alternativem. However if FF supporters are defecting to them as an alternative govenment, then that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    The second reason is far more subtle. When people vote in 2004/5 they will be voting for a government and not the all but useless local authorities. They will be offered two alternatives; the current government which will hopefully by then have clocked up 9 or 10 years of effective and coherant government and the alternative “rainbow” coalition. By scaring people into thinking that SF could be in government, FF will frighten a lot of their erstwhile supporters back into line.

    Don’t get me wrong, SF will make gains at the next election (they still have a long way to go to reach the peaks of former “left of Labour” parties) but the idea that some commentators are floating around (based on recent opinion polls) of SF displacing Labour as the third biggest political party in Ireland is very fanciful in my opinion.

  • peteb

    I think you meant “bad news for FF“, Keith.

    I’d also make the point that FF’s strategy on this is also about switching the media’s focus away from FG.. and that depends on a media that fails to analyse the situation correctly.

  • Tom Griffin

    I’m actually a tad surprised that the scale of the FG vs SF defections would be even more heavy skewed towards FG

    When you strip out the Sunday Independent gloss, what this story really shows is Fianna Fail getting squeezed from both sides.

    SF displacing Labour as the third biggest political party in Ireland is very fanciful in my opinion.

    SF is already the third largest party in Ireland. The question is whether they will become the third largest in the Republic.
    They are level-pegging with Labour in the polls, and can expect a boost from any deal in the peace process.
    Also Pat Rabbitte has boosted their chances of influence after the next election by ruling out a Labour coalition with Fianna Fail.
    Anyone who really wants to stop SF, should be demanding that he reverse that decision.

  • peteb

    Tom

    The quote “Sinn Fein is not Fianna Fail’s biggest competitor. They are far more likely to lose votes to Fine Gael” is directly attributed to Professor Michael Marsh who presented the results of the Irish National Election Study at the conference and is not a “Sunday Independent gloss”.

    The issue being raised is not how many different parties are taking votes from FF, but how SF end up being presented as their biggest competitor for those votes when Fine Gael took more of those votes at the most recent elections.

    As has been pointed out already, it makes sense, politically, for FF to focus on SF and not Fine Gael. Why the media has, to date, obediently followed that agenda is a different question.

  • Keith M

    peteb. Yes there was a typo in my original post as you point out. Regarding the media and FG. It is worth remembering that since Fitzgerald resigned, the media in this country have been trying to consign FG to history. It doesn’t suit their agenda to report the defection of FF voters to FG and the fact that FG achieved their best ever election result in June of this year. (And I’m not a FG voter lest I be accused of hyping them up).

    Tom Griffin “SF is already the third largest party in Ireland.” Political parties are ranked by the number of seats in Parliament and not in the European Parl. SF are the 6th biggest party in Ireland (as we’re having a political discussion Ireland = The Republic), behind FF,FG,Labour, PDs and the Greens.

    The Labour Party do not need any lectures on how to deal with SF. They have seen how their sister party in NI has fared after going soft on SF, and you can be damn sure they won’t make the same mistake in this country.

  • Tom Griffin

    Peteb,

    Granted, FG are still Fianna Fail’s biggest competitor, but that has been the case since the 1920s.
    FF losing 9 per cent of its vote to SF is hardly negligible and is a new and newsworthy development.
    The British media has focused on the UKIP threat to the Tories for similar reasons.

    Keith M,

    We are all free to define our own terms. I would simply note that if you look at the most recent general elections across the island of Ireland,SF won more first preference/first past the post votes than anyone except FF and FG.
    As far as parliamentary seats are concerned, it looks likely that Sinn Fein will enjoy greater influence in the Dail even if they don’t gain a single seat at the general election thanks to Labour’s refusal to consider a coalition with Fianna Fail.
    Pat Rabbitte’s sterling work for an FF/SF deal has been matched only by his good offices in the re-election of President McAleese.

  • Liam

    “SF is already the third largest party in Ireland. The question is whether they will become the third largest in the Republic.”

    They already are.

    The EU election was the only election so far where every voter had an opportunity to vote for a SF candidate.

    SF won 11.4% of first preference votes.

    Labour won 10.7%