Bertie tightens grip on poll lead?

Looks like the big budget giveaway in the Republic has paid off for Bertie. Fianna Fail’s rating goes up by three per cent and Ahern is now the most popular political leader. Sinn Fein drops one per cent, bringing it to 9%. The party’s core vote sits now at 7%, which is marginally above the 6.5% it achieved in the general election of 2002. If there’s a silver lining it is the continued popularity of Gerry Adams, up 1% to 40% satisfaction rating, which may indicate that more people may be willing to transfer to SF further down the ballot than previously.

  • alfredo

    In February 2004, about two years ago SF’s rating was at 12%; it is now at 9%, a drop of 25%. Adams’ personal rating stood at 52%, the highest among party leaders; it is now at 40%, a fall of 23%. That’s the real story Mr Fealty – the Sinn Fein bubble has burst!

  • Henry94


    The party’s core vote sits now at 7%, which is marginally above the 6.5% it achieved in the general election of 2002.

    If this is the way you want to examine the poll then you should do it for all the parties.

    Fianna Fail’s core vote sits now at 37%, which is below the 41.49% it achieved in the general election of 2002.

    Fine Gael’s’s core vote sits now at 18%, which is below the 22.49% it achieved in the general election of 2002.

    The PDs’s core vote sits now at 3%, which is below the 3.75% it achieved in the general election of 2002.

    The Greenss’s core vote sits now at 3%, which is below the 3.85% it achieved in the general election of 2002.

    Besides Sinn Fein the only party to make a gain was Labour at 12% up from the 10.77% it achieved in the general election of 2002.

    It is suggested by commentators that Labour’s gain was caused by it’s playing of the anti-immigrant card.

  • The Irish Times headline “FF and Government make substantial gains in poll” is clearly misleading. The combined FF+PD vote has gone from 38% in the last Irish Times poll to 40% today, while the combined FG+Labour+Green vote has remained static at 44%.

    If the margin of error is 3%, how can any reputable journalist say describe a movement between opinion polls that is less than the margin of error as “substantial”?

    A more accurate headline might be “Government still behind the alternative coalition”.

  • I see what you’re arguing Henry. And you may be right in your assertion.

    However, I did add the caveat that the improved popularity of GA in the last three months has been buoyant, and may mean that it can expect to expand further much further outside that core vote. As Ciaran says though, factoring in error margins, it more probably indicates stasis for SF’s phenomenal pre-2005 growth.

    Effectively it means that the party is over in the south. Short of a surprising blindside move from SF, it’s real grind from here on.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Effectively it means that the party is over in the south.’

    Was there ever a time when the party was ever actually on. Given the sustained attack on SF for as long back as you want to go the robustness of the SF figures can be viewed as quite good.

    Come the election the ready headlines available to certain politicians will not be as forthcoming.

  • Pat, by ‘party’ I didn’t mean to obscure the committment, dedication and hard work of it’s workers. That was and presumably remains higher than most of its rivals north and south.

    I’d say the media onslaught (and onslaught it has been) is about a year old. The party was given a fair wind from early years of the peace process until the NB robbery. Whether or not the IRA did the job, perceptions have turned.

    The problem for the party now is that the dominant narratives in the media have turned against them almost in spite of the one truly historic event of the last ten years taking place in September – the decommissioning of the IRA’s weapons.

    I have no doubt they will continue to press home the advantage that hard work and good organisation will bring them on the ground. I only say it will be much tougher to squeeze out further gains than it was just over 12 months ago.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Agreed Mick.

  • Brian Boru

    Labour are up 2 on 16% – highest vote in 2 years. No prizes for guessing why. Thank you Rabbitte for telling it as it is.

    Might I add that polls in Germany before the elections there placed Schroder as the prefered Chancellor and showed most against change, yet look what happened. 10 yrs is long enough Bertie.

  • Henry94

    Let’s not overstate it. The current government have been in an enviable position in terms of the economy. No opposition party has managed to cosistently put a dent in Fianna Fail’s popularity.

    It’s a grind all round. For Sinn Fein to get to 9% from nowhere in the prevailing becalmed political conditions has been a fair acomplishment.

  • Brian Boru

    37% would still put FF 4% behind their performance last time. Also, the PD Coalition partners’ 3% is not far from the 4% last time that they got, and it was a fluke that they doubled their seats on a 0.7% drop in their vote share, namely the huge numer of Opposition transfers that FG and other voters gave to them to stop FF ruling alone. The PD’s will probably hold McDowell, O’Donnell and Harney’s seats, and Grealish’s in Mayo but that’s about it. They had a chance after the 2004 referendum to carve out a niche as an immigration-control party and they failed that challenge. McDowell talks the talk on asylum-seekers but deported only 394 this year out of 70,000 A.S.’s in this country since 1995. And he gave an amnesty to parents of Irish-born children of asylum-seekers whose children were born before January 2005 – 6 months after the referendum endorsed by 80-20 to stop the baby-tourists using their babies to get Citizenship.

    BTW, this happens after every budget. The Government got a lift also after it in 2005. Then their vote slide again. PPL will not be fooled.

  • D’Oracle

    The bounce in the polls will last Bertie about as long as a new Osama tape for Dubya on Al Jazeera ; a month – give or take.

    As long as its still three to a trolley in the A and E’s, its one man one vote, the votes are still counted fairly and “given cake is soon forgotten”, then….

  • FG+Labour+Green vote has remained static at 44%
    A more accurate headline might be “Government still behind the alternative coalition”.
    The greens have yet to join with labour and Fine gael. they could just as easily be in with Fianna fail. So I don’t think your headline is right either. The headline in the paper is more correct. The green party could be the king makers in 2007

  • Sean Fear

    Henry 94, I’m repeating a question I’ve put on another website (and it’s not a debating point – I’m curious) given what you believe in (social Conservatism, free markets, support for the War on Terror) don’t you think that you’d be in rather a difficult position if Sinn Fein were ever to be the dominant party on either side of the Irish border?

    Apart from a United Ireland, is there anything you agree with this Marxist sect about?

  • Shay Begorrah

    Bertie is popular because he seems to be doing an adequate job and the opposition looks like the less competant evil.

    Given that an taoiseach has not screwed up awfully and that Enda Kenny does not seem to set anyone’s pulse racing (in a good way) changes in the southern political status quo are only likely if there is an economic downturn or a very serious FF scandal (and the Shannon flights and CIA kidnapping collusion apparently do not qualify).

    Otherwise the only question is who, if anyone, gets to go into coalition with FF after the next election.

    Our only hope for some excitement down here is that Michael McDowell comes out of the closet and orders that the new Garda reserve wear bright red arm bands and jackboots.

  • Henry94

    Sean Fear

    In a United Ireland I would probably vote for someone else. But until then I will vote Sinn Fein.

    Of course their politics are leftist and oppositionalist but in government they would have to face certain realities.

    On economic policy that is already happening. I favour lower taxes to create employment and for no other reason. I don’t see any viable alternative to an enterprise economy.

    Social conservatism is a very broad term. I think people should be free to make their choices in life once they don’t directly damage others and they don’t ask others to subsidise them.

    What that means in practise is a case-by-case discussion.

    I think that in the war on terror Ireland should support the US. In the great moral and military battles of the last 100 years, against the Nazis and the Communists we sat on our hands. There were understandable historical reasons for that but in retrospect they were shabby decisions.

    Democracy is now facing another struggle. As I have argued in another context if you support the struggle you have to accept the bits of it you might not like. Because you are fooling yourself if you think anyone is going to get it right all the time.

    I hope that answers your question to some extent.

  • Henry94

    More from the poll in Saturday’s IT

    More voters would like to see the Fianna Fail/Progressive Democrat coalition returned to Government, according to the latest Irish Times/TNS mrbi poll.

    The poll shows a rise in favour of the Government of eight percentage points since the last such poll was carried out in September 2005.

    Some 39 per cent were in favour of the existing coalition forming the next Government with 31 per cent preferring a coalition involving Fine Gael, Labour and possibly the Green Party. 16 per cent wanted neither of these and 12 per cent have no opinion.

    Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats have a clear lead over the rainbow coalition on the questions of managing the economy, keeping taxes low and keeping the peace process in Northern Ireland on track.

  • Richard Dowling

    Can anyone remember if the Progressive Democrats won all
    the seats the party contested at the last election, May 2002?

    Or was EIGHT just the magic number predicted by Mary
    Harney when she won that unlikely bet?

  • mogo

    Agree with 12;29 post Henry, never bought the socialist just the 32 county republic. I think many SF voters are a lot more conservative than people imagine

  • Crataegus

    Shay Begorrah

    “the only question is who, if anyone, gets to go into coalition with FF after the next election”

    I agree.

    The problem with both coalitions is the smaller parties. The PD’s are over stretched at present and the Greens could loose seats to FG. I am assuming that the reason they are not jumping into a coalition with FG & Labour is they are defending seats in Dublin South and Dun Laoghaire against these parties and are trying to take seats in Carlow-Kilkenny and Galway West where they need FF transfers.

    With both the PD’s and Greens (and SF) it all depends on the work they are doing on the ground now. Their overall percentage is misleading. So it is very much a series of local battles. Also FF election machine is good at maximising the seats they get based on the percentage of the vote and FF tend to strengthen during an election.

    For there to be change FF has to have a disastrous loss of seats. I have pasted the bit below in from another thread where I went through each constituency and assumed some reversal against FF and they remain dominant. The big looser may be independents, but I don’t know enough about some of these characters.

    Greens down 2 at 4
    FG up 11 at 42
    Independents down 7 at 6
    SF up 4 at 9
    FF down 6 at 75 plus the speaker who is re-elected.
    Labour up 1 at 21
    PDs down 1 at 7
    Socialists remain at 1
    This would give FF plus PDs sitting with 83 but needing independents and all that nonsense. FF + Labour would be home and dry. The alternative Rainbow just don’t have the numbers.
    Some of you know the constituencies better than I do, but here goes.
    Carlow Kilkenny:- Green Gain from FF with SF transfers
    Cavan Monaghan:- Possible Ind loss to FG
    Clare:- No change
    Cork East:- No change
    Cork North Central:- No change
    Cork North West:- No change
    Cork S Central:- FG or Ind gain from FF
    Cork SW:- No change
    Donegal NE:- No change
    Donegal SW:- No change
    Dublin Central:- SF gain from FF
    Dublin mid west:- No Change but possible FG gain from Greens
    Dublin North:- No change
    Dublin North Central:- Labour Gain from Ind
    Dublin NE:- FG gain from FF
    Dublin NW:- SF gain from FF or Labour
    Dublin South:- Probably no change but could be Lab or FG gain from Greens
    Dublin S-Cen:- Possible Labour gain from FF
    Dublin SE:- Pos SF gain from Lab or FF but tough one.
    Dublin SW:- No Change
    Dublin West:- No Change Dun Laoghaire:- FG gain from Greens
    Galway East:- Possible FF gain from Ind
    Galway West:- Possible FG gain from PDs or Labour
    Kerry North:- No Change
    Kerry South:- FG gain from Ind end of Healy Rae?
    Kildare North:- No change
    Kildare South:- Pos FG gain from Labour
    Laoighis Offaly FG gain from FF
    Limerick East:- No change but possible FG gain from Labour.
    Limerick West:- No change
    Longford Roscommon:- No change
    Louth:- No Change
    Mayo:- No change
    Meath:- Possible SF gain from FF If this is being split into two 3
    seaters???? If so it will favour FF
    Sligo Leitrim:- No change
    Tipperary North:- FG gain from FF
    Tipperary South:- No change
    Waterford:- No change
    Westmeath:- No change
    Wexford:- Possible FG gain from Independent but FF could also gain.
    Wicklow:- Labour gain from independent but it will be a tough one.

  • Richard Dowling

    Fianna Fail will hardly drop to TWO seats in the Laois Offaly
    five seater, Crataegus. Unless Labour gets a star candidate,
    the PD’s Tom Parlon will hold off any FG resurgence, and
    THEY need a strong contender to replace Charlie Flanagan
    who retired after the 2002 debacle. Interesting analysis. But
    wishful thinking. Pat Rabbitte favours a rainbow rather than
    another disastrous courting of Fianna Fail, which was Dick
    Spring’s achilles heel. Nine seats for the Shinners. You’ve got
    to be joking.

  • Crataegus


    “wishful thinking”

    I am fairly neutral.

    What I was trying to illustrate is FF are well dug in, and that hopes for an alternative probably are just that HOPES.

    Also from time to time we hear of SF upsurge but at best they will gain a few seats but I can’t see them leaping forward and with the quality of the current TDs it could be difficult to justify voting for them.

    As for Greens heaven knows, they have a very strong candidate in Carlow but you would really need to know what they are up to on the ground in places like Wicklow, Galway West, and Clare. For them to move forward they have to break out of the Urban area and also hold existing seats. Looks difficult to me with FG on the rise and their leadership, whilst sound enough, lacks charisma. They are likely to get between 4 and 8 TDs. 7 or more would delight them as they could drop that coalition of convenience they have with SF and independents.

    PD’s were blessed in the last election and I don’t see their vote increasing so I would imagine they will loose 1 or 2 seats.

    Labour at best will gain 2 or 3 seats. The current upturn may be difficult to maintain. Post the election I would expect a leadership challenge.

    Bar FF doing something unimaginable (the sleaze that surrounded them seems to be OK with the electorate) they will be in a commanding position. They will need PDs and one other or independents. Or FF and Labour but that would mean a new Labour Leader eventually. Also I can’t see Greens and PDs feeling comfortable together and FF and Green would probably also mean a new leader in the Greens. Also IF FF strengthen their position between now and the election the prospects of FG lead government disappear completely.

    At present I cannot see FG having enough seats to act as the hub for an alternative. The election is there for FF to loose.

  • Crataegus


    You may well be right about Tom Parlon.

    With regards SF they have the resources and be in no doubt where they are targeting they are working on the ground NOW to build support. I can’t see them loosing seats. They are bound to gain. They are strong in Dublin Central, Dublin South East, Meath, Donegal and other parts of Dublin. Difficult to know how the recent choppy waters will impact and I do think they have reached a crossroad and it is difficult to know what way their overall level of support will go, but still very solid on the ground. 9 TD’s max 7 min. More interesting will be how they move beyond this election.

    I used to think they walked on water but now I am not so sure and I can envisage possible reverse of fortune in the medium term. If that happens it will be very interesting to see how that plays with their supporters who are used to victories and gains.

  • The Dubliner

    “The party’s core vote sits now at 7%, which is marginally above the 6.5% it achieved in the general election of 2002.” – Mick

    Mick, I agree with Henry’s point about this selection, but I’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it, if I may:

    (1). Why did you select ‘bad news’ for Sinn Fein out of a poll that actually covered six political parties?

    (2). Why did you compare the results of an opinion poll with the results of a general election and add the comment that Sinn Fein suffered a decline, when there is no valid comparison between the two separate sets of figures, and, therefore, no validity to the assertion that Sinn Fein suffered a decline?

    (3). What are your thoughts on the role of editor/compiler as hidden censor? This is where a compiler of articles predominantly excludes articles that do not further a hidden agenda, and predominantly includes articles that do further said hidden agenda?

    (4). What are your thoughts about commercial opinion polls from market research companies that are paid for by newspapers that may have a particular agenda, but fail to disclose either that agenda or the actual question that was asked, so that reader’s may make an objective judgement about whether the poll is what is referred to as a “push poll.”

    (5). Do you think that Qualitative Research should be confused with Quantitative Research, such that it is valid to draw the former out of what is actually the latter? For example: “The boost for the Government, the Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil comes after a well-received Budget. The current heavy advertising signalling the imminent coming to fruition of the more than one million SSIA accounts may also have created a feel-good factor from which the Government has benefited.” Should the author of the article have disclosed that no such qualitative question was asked in the poll, and that such commentary was merely his qualitative interpretation?

    (6). Now, notwithstanding the limited and flawed basis on which the poll was undertaken, political polls taken this far from an actual election can have no relevancy whatsoever to predicting the outcome of the next general election, so wouldn’t it have been prudent to point that out to your readers when using the poll to make political comments and comparisons that were predicated on the basis of the outcomes of previous general elections?

  • The Dubliner

    In case the above is a tad longwinded (god forbid) and goes unread, I’ll add a single shorthand gist: The Irish Times poll is an ‘approval rating’ poll and not an ‘exit’ poll, so comparing it with election results is about as valid as comparing an illustration of an apple and with a bunch of juicy oranges.

  • Henry94

    Richard Dowling

    Can anyone remember if the Progressive Democrats won all the seats the party contested at the last election, May 2002?

    No they contested a lot of other constitencies too.

    Cavan-Monaghan and Cork North Central off the top of my head but there were others.

  • I’m having the weekend off TD, so here’s some necessarily brief answers:

    1 Because Slugger is focused on NI, and Sinn Fein is the only serious northern player in the running in the south.

    2 I’ve been tracking these polls for about two years and the Sinn Fein results are always the primary focus for reasons outlined in 1.

    3 Give my head peace. Slugger is a popular site, but it’s mine. There is no obligation on me to be fair or balanced. What I try to do is to give each point of view I blog a fair play. DI is as likely to appear here as BT even though their influence and size of readership is hugely uneven on the ground. You come up with a hidden agenda for it if you like, but I blog what I think is interesting. I’m trying track the main narratives (and where possible) the counter narratives pertaining to NI. If I do it with bias and prejudice, it only proves I’m human!

    4 I track three polls on regular basis: IT; SBP; and the Irish Examiner’s. There’s never a huge difference in any of them. Fopr instance all reflect GA’s resurgent popularity since the Autumn and SF’s static performance.

    5 I see no reference to qualitative evidence. He’s pulling from the context of the timing of the poll. Is it not fair comment to extrapolate from figures – even if you get it wrong?

    6 the first clause I can agree with, but you seem to miss the point that Slugger is a blog, not a newspaper: see my IT piece for more on this (

    The comment section here has proved (periodically) that the ability to share knowledge and the syntheses that can arise from simple conversations can add considerable value to the simple reading of the original source.

  • Crataegus


    There is a link to the article for us to read for ourselves, and most who visit this site are too old and grey to take one set of opinion poll figures too seriously especially with the margin of error. Judging by other threads some have an intimate knowledge of voting patterns, transfer rates and statistics. We know polls merely suggest a general trend and I can’t imaging any of us getting over excited by a SF drop of 1%. We also know that polls tend to understate SF support.

    The qualifications you suggest are totally unnecessary. It would be like advising people to take care when opening a tin of beans. It would make turgid reading if all posts followed this pattern. As for suggesting the press have motives, well yes, but who doesn’t yourself included.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Can anyone from Dublin give an unbiased view of the state of the parties there? It is clear if SF is to make a sizeable leap forward it will have to perform well here.
    People from SF are saying the organisation on the ground, right across all the constituencies is well organised and getting good feedback. Others are saying it is very patchy.

    Mick has mentioned the good organisational strength that will stand them in good stead come the election. Are they for instance replicating what they do in the northern six counties ie targetting non voters and traditional non voter parts of the electorate?

  • One thing that has not been mentioned much is Labour’s 16% rating. This could get Labour 30+ seats in the Dáil, possibly exceeding their performance under Dick Spring in 1992. (Last time they got 20 elected with less than 11%). It appears from these poll pigures that we would have a minority rainbow govt with the Labour and Green seats about equal to those of FG.

    Pat Rabbitte could be the next Taoiseach (seriously).

  • Henry94

    My fear about the Labour jump is that it will encourage others to jump on the anti-immigrant bandwagon.

    I certainly hope we aren’t going to have an election to be ashamed of.

  • Whilst it is true that polls typically predict with an average error of around 1.5 percentage points; it is clear that the aanouncement by the IRA that it has formally ordered an end to its armed campaign and that it will pursue exclusively peaceful means, has not repaed the political dividend that Sinn Fein would have hoped for.

    Any number of reasons can be posited for this; Northern Bank robbery; McCartney murder, the outing of Donaldson etc…

    Whatever, the ending of the campaign and the giving up of weapons was a very big trump card, and it has clearly not worked the oracle. It is hard to see where the next catalyst is going to come from, that is going to propel Sinn Fein’s share of the vote forward.

    Interestingly, Bertie does not seem to have suffered from his friendship with Flynn…

  • Crataegus


    Where do you see Labour gaining and from whom?


    I agree you can always tell politicians in desperation; they start thumping on about immigration or locking up criminals. It’s a sure sign that Labour does not see the Rainbow getting enough seats.

  • Henry94


    In tactical terms Sinn Fein did not get credit for decommissioning because it didn’t happen soon enough. They overplayed their hand. Lesson learned I hope.

    But overall I would compare their position in the south with the way they were in the 80s in the north. There was the initial jump when natural Sinn Fein voters were coming out. Then for a long period there was no real growth. But then as the hard slog on the ground started to pay off the votes came in

    I expect Sinn Fein to hit 20% in the south in about 10 years.

    Are we going to have a thread on Hain calling the Police Board liars

  • Possible Labour gains with 16% of the vote:-
    Dublin South (from GP)
    Dun Laoghaire (2 seats) 1 gain from GP or FF
    Dublin Mid West (const gains 1 seat)
    Dublin South Central from FF
    Dublin North Central from FF
    Wicklow from Ind
    Meath East (new const)
    Cork South West (from FF)
    Cork South Central from FF
    Louth from FF
    Tipp North from FF
    Tipp South from Ind
    Kerry North from FF

    If Marian Harkin doesn’t run there is a possibility of taking her seat also. Labour should also keep their seat in Carlow Kilkenny (the Ceann Comhairle was automatically elected here last time)

  • James D

    Good anaylsis and informed politcal debate going on here, this is more like the good old days!

    Keep it up slugger!

    ‘But overall I would compare their position in the south with the way they were in the 80s in the north.’

    I think this is a difficult comparison to make Henry, the situation on the ground and the circumstances are entirely different.

    James D

  • “One thing that has not been mentioned much is Labour’s 16% rating. This could get Labour 30+ seats in the Dáil, possibly exceeding their performance under Dick Spring in 1992. (Last time they got 20 elected with less than 11%). It
    Pat Rabbitte could be the next Taoiseach (seriously).”

    The Labour Party is owned and controlled by the Public sector trade unions down here. The hostility to the said unions is growing every day. Pat Rabbite has NO chance of ever being Taoiseach or any other Labour leader either.

  • Crataegus


    Labour would need FG to be stagnating to take a lot of those mentioned, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin Mid West, Meath East, Cork South West, Cork South Central, Tipp North.

    In Dublin North I think there are 2 safe FF seats and I can’t see a gain in Louth. Also in Cork South Central Kathy Sinnott has to be in there with a good chance.

    Forgot Seamus Pattison was Labour, was thinking of his FF predecessor also from Carlo Kilkenny.

    But let us assume as you suggest Labour get 32 and FG 41. To have a majority Greens would need 11 seats and that is one that my mind just can’t comprehend. It all just shows the massive amount of ground that the possible alternative coalition has to make up to be seen as a possible future government.

  • Crataegus

    Sorry above should be FF 2 safe seats Dublin North CENTRAL

  • Craetagus,

    “Labour would need FG to be stagnating to take a lot of those mentioned, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin Mid West, Meath East, Cork South West, Cork South Central, Tipp North.”
    Not necessarily, for example both parties could gain a seat in Dun Laoghaire. The fact that Labour is generally better at attracting transfers than FG should increase their relative strength in any possible coalition. For example, past experience shows that SF transfers favour the rainbow parties over FF/PD but their transfers go mainly to Labour and the Greens rather than FG.

    “But let us assume as you suggest Labour get 32 and FG 41. To have a majority Greens would need 11 seats and that is one that my mind just can’t comprehend.”
    If FG+Labour+Green get to the high 70s in seats then they will have enough to form a minority government. 11 Green seats are not required. The polls have been consistently indicating that this will be the result of the next election.

  • Keith M

    Gosh but there’s been a lot of poorly thought out posts on this thread. Here’s one example from (the normally more sensible) Ciaran Quinn. “A more accurate headline might be “Government still behind the alternative coalition””.

    This is wrong on two fronts. Firstly the Greens have stated clearly and repeatedly that they do not want a pre-election pact with FG & Labour. Indeed many inside the party would prefer a deal with FF, if the numbers stacked up (the Greens would have to overtake the PDS for this to be reven considered).

    Secondly if you actually choose to second guess the Greens and put them together with FG & Labour and offer the electorate that choice versus the current coalition, the FF/PDs come out on top by 39% to 33%. Read today’s Irish Timees for confirmation.

    It’s clear that over a year out from the next election, that the government has re-taken the initiative. Polls before an election tend to understate the support for the status quo (especially in Ireland). If the results of this poll are replicated in an election, then FF and the PDs will almost certiainly form the next government, though most likely with support from independents.

    As for SF, it’s another poor performance coming after previous poor polls. The glass ceiling on all previous “left of Labour” parties seems to have kicked in, and on 9%, they don’t have any chance of the 14 seats they believe that they will win.

    At the time of SF/IRAs supposed decommissioning last year I posted that I thought that the short sightedness of SF/IRA leadership would come back to haunt them. By not decommissioning in a transparent manner, they played right into the hands of the DUP in Northern Ireland and put the timescale for devolved government back by several years. I also said that I thought that far from giving SF a bounce in the polls in this country the so called “decommissioning” would have little impact, and so it’s proven to be. It’s now long forgotten and politically all but irrelevant.

  • Brian Boru

    “One thing that has not been mentioned much is Labour’s 16% rating. This could get Labour 30+ seats in the Dáil, possibly exceeding their performance under Dick Spring in 1992. (Last time they got 20 elected with less than 11%). It
    Pat Rabbitte could be the next Taoiseach (seriously).”

    I doubt that. Labour actually got 33 seats on 19% of the vote in 1992, so 16% wouldn’t be enough to even reach those levels let alone exceed them.

    I would also point out that although 39% say they prefer the current government to 31% fo the Opposition, that leaves many against either or undecided. I wouldn’t interpret this poll as meaning the govt will get back in. The US Presidential election showed that it isn’t always “the economy stupid” as did the UK G.E. in 1997.

  • Keith M,

    the only poll figures that really matters are voting intentions, and on this basis FG+LAB+GP are on 44%, ahead of FF+PD on 40%. On the traditional comparison, FG+LAB 40% are ahead of FF 37%.

    Looking at the transfers at the 2002 election, Green supporters overwhelming preferred FG+LAB to FF+PD, with the Labour party being their preferred destination. It is likely that the Greens will have the option in the next Dáil of either joining a rainbow government or of supporting a minority FG+LAB govt. If they were to choose FF instead they would seriously damage themselves.

    Brian Boru,

    Labour got 33 seats with 19% of the vote in 2002 but 33 was not a real reflection of their support. Had Labour run more candidates they would have got 36 seats – 30 seats with 16% is roughly proportional to 36 seats with 19%.

  • Crataegus


    “ Firstly the Greens have stated clearly and repeatedly that they do not want a pre-election pact with FG & Labour”

    I think Trevor Sargent has stated that he very much prefers FG & Labour and even rashly stated that he would not lead the Greens into such a coalition. Also there was something really odd about their decision not to run in the Presidential election. Their activists seemed to want to run Eamon Ryan, but for some reason following a meeting with Pat Rabbitte the leadership decided not to. It struck me that they had Labour by the proverbials and they then let them off WHY?

    Their reservation about the Rainbow Coalition are probably to do with not wishing to alienate FF transfers as their wish list must include places like Carlow-Kilkenny, Clare, Wicklow and West Galway. Also they are more likely to loose seats to FG and Labour than they are to FF and PDs. So why endorse someone who may replace you?

  • Crataegus

    Sorry my brain is not in gear today, been hitting the night nurse. The above should read.

    I think Trevor Sargent has stated that he very much prefers FG & Labour and even rashly stated that he would not lead the Greens into a coalition with FF. ( I read it somewhere but can’t trace a link)

    Get hot water bottle and go to bed I think.

  • Keith M

    Ciaran “the only poll figures that really matters are voting intentions.”. This is where you and I differ. As you know full well poll like this only indicate where first preferences go, yet more than two thirds of our TDs are elected through transfers and to get an indication of where transfers will go, you need to get a view of the relative levels of support of both coalitions. At the moment the FF/PD option is far more popular than the FG/Lab, so that when minor parties, independents etc are eliminated, their transfer are far more likely to go to the government. Also that is before you consider things such as the fact that the government will dictate the time of the election, and the generally accepted swing to the status quo during an election campaign. This is a very good poll for the government (esp FF) and shows that the opposition has a uphill job to unseat them.

    Alsoi you mention 30+ seat for Labour on 16%. This is cloudcuckooland. On the 2002 election you suggest “had Labour run more candidates they would have got 36 seats.” There is only one extra seat that was clearly winnable (Dublin South), any others are highly debatable. Also things have moved on from 2002. Labour are now being challenged by SF for votes from the left, not just first preferences but also transfers. Microparties like the WP, SP, SWP are more likely to transfer to SF than Labour. On 16% of the vote Labour will get 25-28 seats. On that figure thare’s about as mi=uch chance of Rabbitte being Toaiseach as Paul Berry becoming the next Pope.

    Crataegus, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt as by your own admission your head wasn’t in gear. I recall no statement Sargent expressly ruling out coalition with FF. They may not be equi-distant from both potential coalitions, but putting them in one camp is clearly erroneous.

  • Keith M,

    “more than two thirds of our TDs are elected through transfers”
    Transfers do not account for 2/3 of the seats a party wins. Consider the difference between FF in 1992 (68 seats on 39.11%) and in 1997 (77 seats on 39.3%). In the case of FF once can say that about 10 seats depend on the party’s ability to attract transfers.

    “At the moment the FF/PD option is far more popular than the FG/Lab, so that when minor parties, independents etc are eliminated, their transfer are far more likely to go to the government.”
    This is simply not true. The 2002 election was fought in much more favourable circumstances for FF/PD but independent/minor party transfers overwhelmingly favoured the opposition. The FF/PD combination is 5.5% below its 2002 performance. I don’t think questions other than voting intentions really matter – for example, Gerry Adam’s popularity did nothing for SF’s ability to attract transfers.

    As regards Labour in 1992, the party got over 1.7 quotas in Dublin North but allowed Trevor Sargent to take the seat. In Dublin South Central, Labour won more votes than FF but Briscoe FF took the last seats by 5 votes from Byrne of DL. A donkey standing for Labour would have taken a seat.

    An improved performance for SF next time may benefit Labour as Labour are likely to be the ultimate beneficiary of SF transfers. Simply staying ahead of the SF candidate (which should not be difficult on 16% v 9%) should ensure a healthy transfer boost. Labour should get a big seat bonus because of SF’s inability to attract transfers. I think that 30 seats on 16% is a realistic aim – you yourself allow that 28 is possible.

  • Crataegus


    I still can’t find an article that states that Sargent would not lead the Green Party into a FF lead coalition. From memory it was a speech at their convention and it struck me as odd for on one hand the membership had voted for no pact with anyone and on the other the leader was undermining that position. Apart from that the first rule of politics is never say never.

    It seems clear enough to me that the leadership of the Greens prefer FG and Labour as the links below indicate, but suppose they are also consistent with being an opposition party. The sadist in me would like to see the Greens in a position of being asked by FF to form a government post the next election.

    I tend to agree with your assessment of Labour’s chances. They will be lucky to get out of the mid 20’s and the most likely seats they could take are often off other members of their coalition. As you say transfer patterns are crucial, but I think usually only for the last seats. The big problem for Labour is that often for them to really benefit from transfers they will need to be ahead of FG’s lowest candidate. In many seats that just is not going to happen unless FG go into reverse.

    With the smaller parties like SF, Greens and PDs it is not their overall percentage that is important but how that support is concentrated and what ground work they are doing. SF will gain a few seats as may the Greens. Both these could dent Labours ambitions.

    People also forget FF’s superb vote management. They tend to get more seats than their percentage of the vote. However this also means that a relatively small fall in votes could result in a disproportionate level of loss. Also there will be more 3 seaters in the next election and this will favour FF.

    There is no doubt in my mind that, bar a disaster, FF will be in the next government, probably with the PDs and independents or alternatively with Labour. A FF and SF government may also be numerically possible but politically I don’t see it just yet. FF, Labour and Greens just won’t have the numbers.

    By the way there are some real dog fights looming. Dublin Central has the following candidates declared; Bertie Ahern; Joe Costello; Paschal Donohoe; Tony Gregory; Mary Lou McDonald; Patricia McKenna Labour’s seat and FFs second seat are weak. The only certain seat here is Bertie’s.

    The Green Party links below;

    “At our Annual Convention this year the party membership decided that the party will contest the next general election as an independent party without any voting pacts with other parties. So over the next 20 months we will be emphasising the importance of getting rid of this FF/PD government but, more importantly, will be working toward bringing real positive change to any alternative government.”

    Mr Gormley today reiterated the party’s clear preference for a coalition involving Fine Gael and Labour and said a vote for the PDs was a vote for Fianna Fáil.

  • Brian Boru

    “We also know that polls tend to understate SF support.”

    Not in the South.

  • Richard Dowling

    Rumour has it that the Labour party in Laois is all set to run
    THREE high profile candidates in the next elections:

    Samantha Mumba. Noam Chomsky. And Mick O Dwyer.

  • Crataegus

    So that’s why Samantha has been keeping her diary open.

  • TheGeneral

    I’ll just add my tuppence worth here to this thread.

    The last MRBI poll before the 2002 General Election got SF’s support on the button to within 0.2% for example. The polls were also accurate for the 2004 European Elections and as such there is no evidence of underestimation of SF support.

    The talk about the Green Party making gains is ridiculous. There are 2 constituencies where they have a realistic, though slim chance of a gain: Galway West and Carlow-Kilkenny and I doubt they will win either. Louth is a constituency where they could surprise and poll well but not enough to win a seat. At least 4 and likely 5 of their sitting TDs are under pressure, they could increase their share of the vote over 2002 and return with less seats. The seats in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin South, Dublin South East and Cork South Central are all shaky with FG running a real election campaign this time out. Dublin Mid West is also shaky despite the extra seat. All these TDs received a very large SF transfer in 2002. Sargent could return on his own given that 2 of the TDs in Dublin North are retiring.

    As for Labour people forget the impact that retirements will have on their seat haul. Kerry South seat lost to FG and Cork East likely lost to FG. In Dublin West it is highly likely that their seat is lost to FG, a cllr in Castleknock polled over 5,000 votes in 2004 in one ward. As for seats they lost the last time, Kerry North has no prospect of a Labour resurgance, neither has Louth as the Drogheda vote declined again in 2004. They may struggle to hold the Dublin North seat as they have selected the retiring TDs brother instead of one of 4 county cllrs. Their only prospects of a gain are in Dún Laoghaire, Meath East and Dublin Mid West.

    FG canot fail to gain seats but while they have a lot of young new cllrs since 2004 one has to question the candidate strategy thus far. There are persistent rumours that TDs defeated in 2002, including many who did not contest the 2004 locals, want to run again ahead of these young bloods. Alan Shatter has already been selected others include Seán Barrett, Charlie Flanagan, Gerry Reynolds, Nora Owen and Frances Fitzgerald. Almost all of their MEPs will be running meaning that if elected cllrs will be sent to Strasbourg as their subs likely leading to these seats being marginal in 2009. Kenny has made FG think they can win again but when the FF press office get going about the differences between the various coalition partners and the absence of policies they will be damaged.

    As for FF the party will lose seats but not a bag load. The last 2 elections have shown the party is more transfer friendly than ever as inter-party loyalty declines further. I find it hard to see any scenario where FF return with less than 70 seats. Good candidate selection in many areas will result in holds because FF is defending so many it is hard for the party to make gains though there are chances in Kerry South and Galway West.

    SF will also gain seats, they can’t fail to on current poll figures. Most likely include Dublin Central, Dublin North West and one of the 2 Donegal constituencies. They have a shot in Wexford and in Waterford and in Dublin North East. The prospects of a Meath gain are gone with the boundary revision as are Sligo-Leitrim. I think Wexford is more likely a gain though their candidate Dwyer didn’t have a great day in the local elections and was outpolled by a FF cllr who has been selected to contest the next election. He is confined to a wheelchair so likely to garner something of a sympathy vote as well. The Workers Party may cost SF the seat. Their transfer will be crucial and their candidate outpolled the SF candidate in the 2004 locals as well.

    I think any prospects of gains outside of these are very slim and remote especially as SF will be unable to benefit from future decomissioning exercises. There is a ceiling for radical anti-govt parties in the Republic. 10% was reached by Clann na Poblachta, Workers Party and Clann na Talmhan and they couldn’t break out of it. Their desire to enter govt is different depending on who you talk to and whether they came from FF or Labour.

  • Crataegus


    Couldn’t disagree with most of that.

    Greens putting in a strong showing in Louth surprises me, can’t see then taking Galway West either, but think this time Carlow Kilkenny a strong possibility. Not all their TD’s will return, but they will probably do better than you think, though Dublin South and Dun Laoghaire are capricious constituencies. I would have thought that their best strategy would probably be consolidate and try to gain one or two, but with them who knows.

    How do you think the PDs will fair? Galway West, Longford West Meath and perhaps even Limerick East must be possible losses.

    FF will form the next government unless they do something truly horrendous.

  • Brian Boru

    “As for FF the party will lose seats but not a bag load. The last 2 elections have shown the party is more transfer friendly than ever as inter-party loyalty declines further. I find it hard to see any scenario where FF return with less than 70 seats. Good candidate selection in many areas will result in holds because FF is defending so many it is hard for the party to make gains though there are chances in Kerry South and Galway West.”

    Opinion polls consistently over-rate FF’s real levels of support, and under-rate FG’s. FG got 28% in the local/euro elections compared to 24% in the polls beforehand. FF certainly won’t have the overall majority they came within 2 seats of getting last time. Also the PD’s will definitely lose Longford-Roscommon where Mae Sexton only got in due to 60% of FG transfers going her way. A number of PD TDs got in last time on the transfers from Opposition supporters intent on prevented FF majority-rule. Also Labour and FG did not have a transfer pact, unlike on this occasion. 54% in the polls say they are dissatisfied with the Government’s performance, and that the health-service and rip-off Ireland will be the main issues they vote on – not the economy.

    I think many of us are bored with the same old faces.

  • Henry94

    The PDs did well witha late campagin against a single party Fianna Fail government in 02.

    This time they could frame the choice as being between themselves or Labour in government with FF. This could shift soft FG votes and make it a bad day for Enda.


    Strong analysis but I would question this

    There is a ceiling for radical anti-govt parties in the Republic.

    Not some much the concept but the 10% figure. I would put it nearer 20%.

    As you note Sinn Fein are on almost 10% already but don’t forget Seamus Healy Tony Gregory Finian McGrath and Joe Higgins. The vote is there but it has to be brought in with hard work.

    The lesson in my view is that a party has to put down roots after the initial excitement wears off. Most of them implode when that time comes. I’m backing Sinn Fein to see it through. Not for the first time they will learn from other peoples mistakes.

    By contrast the PDs never did the groundwork and will at some stage have a bad election which will get rid of them. The can’t be lucky all the time.

  • middle-class taig

    Any chance?