Sinn Féin vote stalls in Irish Republic but future could still be Green

The result of a poll Millward Brown IMS in the Sunday Tribune (subs needed) puts Sinn Féin at 8%, down one percentage point from the last equivalent poll in November 2005 and just one per cent higher than its general election result in 2002. Fianna Fáil is still unchanged at 37% and Fine Gael is up two to 26%. Labour is stalled at 12%, up just one per cent on four years ago while the PDs at 4% and the Greens on 5% are unchanged.

It seems that while 52% of voters were dissatisfied with the Government’s performance, compared to 43% who were satisfied. Bertie Ahern is still FF’s best asset. When asked who they wanted as Taoiseach, exactly 50% of the electorate opted for Bertie Ahern, while 29% chose the Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny. 14% wanted neither and 7% did not know.

Former PD leader Mary Harney appears to have got out just in time with her satisfaction rating in freefall, down five percentage points to 38%. Gerry Adams’ rating is down seven to 41% although his high figure last November came in the wake of the announcement on IRA decomissioning.

As things stand, it seems FF are still in with a strong chance of forming a coalition government but both FG-Lab and FF-PD would most likely fall short of the necessary 83 seats. It seems the Green Party could be the kingmakers.

Trevor Sargent, leader of the Green Party and a man who received a 37 per cent “don’t know” in the polls satisfaction ratings, said at his party’s autumn think-in in Wicklow last week that his opposition to a coalition with Fianna Fail after the next election has ‘‘not changed one iota’’, despite his declaration that he saw little difference between the Fine Gael-Labour alternative and the current government.

Sargent previously said he would not stay on as leader if the Greens decided to join a coalition with FF but some members believe it should negotiate the best deal it can for government, irrespective of who its partners might be. The Green Party’s agreed position is that it has not ruled out any coalition option at this point.

  • Linking to the Sunday Tribune is so annoying that it’s probably not even worth it. Subs aren’t necessary, but you must register. Even then the links don’t seem to remain valid for more than a few hours.

  • Brian Boru

    The last IMS poll was in Nov.2005 so I wonder why do they come out with so few polls? I have heard questions raised on about their reliability. Historically polls over-represented FF and MRBI and Red C supposedly address this with Red C’s polls supposedly more reliable because they ask the voters on the phone whereas others ask face to face. The IMS polls seem less worrying for FF, but given the party’s tendency to lose support in an election-campaign (even last time), I would be a little cautious about these results until I see the likely Red C poll at the end of the month.

    Even so, I find it hard to believe the poll could be so wrong that it differs from the public’s preferred candidate for Taoiseach which still seems to be Bertie Ahern. In that context I retract my recent view that he should resign. He may still be an electoral asset at least in terms of personality. This should not be underestimated in terms of the capacity to limit the electoral-damage to FF compared to 2002 when you recall how Schroeder reduced the CDU-lead to 1 point on election day.

    The PD’s will be relieved by the poll as they obtained 4% in 2002 and doubled their seats. But it is always hard to say how they will perform because their first-preference vote is always near or in the margin-of-error. Their new leader is going to polarise opinion but that may spur the party’s supporters out to vote. They are 7% in Dublin which makes them holding all 4 seats there a real possibility. I predict McDowell’s standing in Dublin SE will be raised by being a party-leader as it’s almost unheard of in recent decades for a party-leader to lose his/her seat. Liz O’Donnell said this morning that internal PD polls show she will keep her seat. I think Mary Harney’s high-profile (but mixed results in health) will allow her to hold in in Dublin MW. Fiona O’Malley in Dun Laoghaire is much more shaky but she confounded the sceptics in 2002 by getting elected while pre-election polls only put her on 7%.

    I think the tide has gone out for SF. They will not make the sweeping gains they expected. Voters are returning to their more suspicious stance of 2002 when SF only got 6.5% but only 5 seats due to a lack of transfers. I believe after McCartney etc. they are even more transfer-repellent, but may pick up seats in Dublin Central (Mary Lou McDonald, as Nicky Kehoe was very near to ousting the second FF seat here in 02), and the 2 Donegal constituencies (Padraig McLochlainn and Pearse Doherty) as regional polls put them around 17% some months ago. So up to 3 more seats (i.e. 8) is what I’m predicting at this stage and no more. I don’t think their stridently pro-asylum-seeker stances and their perceived Marxist economic policies will have helped either.

    The Greens on 5% will be worried that the tide has gone out for them too. However they are not transfer-repellent at all and I think they will end up with at least their current number of TD’s, possibly with a loss of Ciaran Cuffe’s seat but a gain in Galway West with Niall O’Brollachain.

    FG will be pleased with another poll-gain. Labour stuck on 12% shows they are – yet again – being squashed by getting into bed with an elephant. They joint-policy documents has left Rabbitte open to accusations (including in today’s press) of exceeding the mandate given to him to form an electoral-pact with FG. They risk repeating the PD mistake of a pact with FF in 97 (unlike in 02 when they ran independently) which helped nuke their TD numbers from 8 to 4. Add to that the problem of FG and Labour also competing for seats – especially in Kerry – and the fact that transfers between separate parties will never give the seat-bonus transfers between candidates of one party i.e. FF give. Even adding the Greens in this poll leaves the combined “Rainbow” on just 43% – 2% ahead of the current govt. I think a hung-Dail is now inevitable as in 1997, and the Independents will choose the next govt.

  • mickhall

    What do these polls tell us, well for a start SF was being far to ambitious about is prospects in the ROI, it would be far better for it to aim at the dispossessed and working classes instead of moving towards the centre.

    Due to the ILP rightward shift this ground is up for grabs. SF should forget about entering a coalition, instead become the voice of the discontented. Few small party’s prosper from within a coalition gov.

    If the greens refuse to enter a coalition, and SF gain 8 to 12 seats that would be a powerful coalition to build a progressive opposition from. Unofficial coalition with the greens is what SF should work for, if successful both parties could look to becoming members of a government in the next but one election in which they would have real power.

  • dublin_sf_supporter

    After the next Dail elections Gerry Adams is likely at some point to hand over power probably to Mary Lou McDonald. This will be good for the vote of the party in the Dail especially in the very important greater Dublin constituencies.

  • Greenflag

    Once the election is called FF will rebound . The party machine will deliver on the preference votes. Bertie is an election winner. PD’s will hold their own and perhaps do better .

    Remember Bertie still has a budget in hand to help woo the faithful back . And with another surplus on the way you can expect an electorally positive budget.

  • Crataegus


    If the greens refuse to enter a coalition, and SF gain 8 to 12 seats that would be a powerful coalition to build a progressive opposition from. Unofficial coalition with the greens is what SF should work for

    Somehow I don’t see the Greens jumping at that though they share some sort of technical group in the Dail with Sf and independents and I think (?) they also claim to be an all Ireland party. What do they have in common?

    Brian Boru

    The next government is FF- Labour unless there is a sudden change in support. Roughly agree with you about likely levels of SF & Green support except on a good day the Greens could make a few overall gains like Wicklow or Carlow- Kilkenny. As we said on other threads so difficult to tell with the smaller parties and depends on what the local party is doing and local levels of support.

  • Brian Boru

    “The next government is FF- Labour unless there is a sudden change in support.”

    I doubt that with 80% of Labour voting against a Coalition with FF.

  • Turbopaul

    After the next Dail elections Gerry Adams is likely at some point to hand over power probably to Mary Lou McDonald.

    Connor Murphy is the only person able to hold the RM together after Gerry leaves office, and may even attract back those disillusioned with the current leadership.

    Mary Lou must accept Deputy leader for now!!!!!

    A Connor Murphy, Mary Lou McDonald ticket would sweep New Sinn Fein to new highs if in place before next years general election.

  • It seems that one thing SF can no longer rely on is the ‘McDowell Factor’. Previously, the rise of McDowell to the PD leadership would have been a boon for SF, as they traditionally gain when rounded upon by the likes of the Justice Minister.

    However, in recent months McDowell has been more tempered in relation to SF, and the latter therefore does not enjoy the publicity it previously received following his attacks.

    The Thatcher/ Paisley element has always benefitted the provisional movement insofar as people voted SF in anger at their rantings- McDowell’s conduct arguably had a similar effect. Does his tactic-switch rob SF of a previously guaranteed vote grab?

  • dublin_sf_supporter

    “Connor Murphy is the only person able to hold the RM together after Gerry leaves office, and may even attract back those disillusioned with the current leadership.”

    Although Murhpy has a group of supporters you can’t really see him making electoral inroads needed after Gerry stands aside. He has not the breadth of appeal needed. Its Mary Lou McDonald who can get the votes outside of the North.

  • DSF/ Turbo-

    Do you not have this Murphy v McDonald argument every time there is a thread on SF? 😉

  • mickhall


    What would Murphy or Mary Lou bring to the leadership that Adams can not.


  • godsdog

    DSf, Turbo, think your well off the mark in predicting Gerrys deparure, i Think he has another 10 years in him yet, he will be preceded by both Mcguinness and Doherty now that West Tyrone and Mid Ulster are safe. There is no chance that SF are going to do an SDLP and change their leadership all at one so I predict this will happen in stages. I dont think Mary Lou has the credibilty to lead a Northern Party especially after her sisters defection so it will remain in the North. Post Adams Murphy is the most likely candidate but dont rule out Declan Kearney being the next MP for Mid- Ulster and taking over the reins, Mary Lou will continue as party Chair and leader of the partys Leinster House team

  • Nic

    Hmmm, Garret Fitzgerald in the Irish Times reckoned FF have to do a deal with SF after the next election. That based on the fact that the Greens and Labour are sworn off supporting them and Fine Gael won’t and the PD’s could be decimated.
    It won’t be a coalition, but minority support is definitely being reckoned with.
    Of course, Bertie is denying categorically that he will go into coalition with SF, or put them in government, but behind the smoke the astute observer will note that he never mentioned refusing their supporting votes in the Dail.
    Fitzgerald speculates that when that reality percolates through to the electorate it could be the extra boost over the line that FG-Lab need.

    All to play for, as the man says.

  • Dave


    Why do you keep posting this rubbish re FF & SF coalition.

    The Taoiseach has stated clearly that he would lead FF into coalition rather that enter any electoral arrangement with SF after the next election.

    SF have hit a wall -no party will go into coalition with them – thus they are politically irrelevant.

  • charliers_Fighters

    To GodsDog –

    Since when was SF a “northern Party”, it has popular support through out Ireland, and stands as the only all-ireland party for the very reason that it is mandated to seek an all-ireland.

    i’m from the north my self, and appreciate that the majority of SF’s support is in the 6 counties, but if you ever want SF to increase its manadte south of the north and border region, a more open debate needs to follow who will replace SF President, as opposed to, it must be a northern.

    Dublin SF supporter makes a very valid point, Mary Lou has the potential to garnner votes from a far larger demographic, and here popular appeal is very saleable. With such a leader, who knows were SF will be in 20 years time.

  • Professor Maynard

    The very idea that Mary Lou might replace Adams just shows how hopelessly divided north and south now are, not to mention how hopelessly student-union SF’s new southern support still remains.
    Mary Lou doesn’t even have what it takes to do the job she’s doing now.

  • kensei

    “The very idea that Mary Lou might replace Adams just shows how hopelessly divided north and south now are, not to mention how hopelessly student-union SF’s new southern support still remains. ”

    As a Northern Nationalist I would have no problem with a Southern Leader and find that Mary Lou can come across very well.

    What division? We’re all Irish.

  • Occasional Commentator

    It’ll be a while before we have a genuine new wave of Shinners who seem credible, hopefully they just need a bit more experience. I want a leader who looks like a credible Taoiseach, not just a credible leader of a small socialist party. When I move to Dublin shortly, I may just have to join up myself – if you want a job done right …

  • Crataegus

    You do get the feeling that the leadership in SF are beginning to look a bit tired.


    hopefully they just need a bit more experience.

    And before you know it they will be just like New Labour.


    Perceptions are very different south and north. Do you think Mary Lou is on top of nuances Northern?

  • kensei

    “Perceptions are very different south and north. Do you think Mary Lou is on top of nuances Northern?”

    I think she is probably on top of Republican perceptions North. I just don’t think she is on top of everyone else’s, or the nuance. But at the same time, at the moment she doesn’t have to be, and we are probably talking a 5-10 year range here. The question is just as equally reversed, and that will be a challenge for an all-Island party until the place is United. The idea that there should be some kind of North-South divide (bar county or provincal rivalaries 🙂 )for a Republican party is absolutely nuts.
    In a hypothetical leadership election, I could see the backlash to such a suggestion helping her campaign.

    Can’t comment on everything she’s done, but the few times I’ve seen her on TV she came across well, and is probably young enough to carry less baggage than some of the other candidates.

  • jim

    godsdog – Declan Kearney future MP for mid-Ulster catch a grip, on his current ideas he wouldnt get 10% of the local members to canvass for him

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    I think the Taoiseach, if boxed in a corner and faced with the prospect of opposition politics, would take SF on board.

  • Crataegus


    I just don’t see FF giving SF such a leg up! I know FF is about staying in office at all costs but the last thing you would want to do is give credibility to a party you are losing votes to.

    The scenario for this to happen would be a hung Dail with neither FF & PD or FG-Labour-Green with overall majority. But then there are other permutations like FF-PD-Green or FF-Labour first. You could also leave the forming of the government to FG. Hand the poison chalice over.

    The idea that FF on its own or more likely with PDs would go into government with SF is hard to imagine. To form a minority government with the tacit support of SF is also hard to envisage. If you were the PDs would you like to be in there with SF holding a political knife to your throat?

  • Droch_Bhuachaill


    If the PDs cease to exist as a relevant political entity after the next election, as I think will happen, i think Bertie will have to jump into bed with SF IF he wants to stay in gov.

  • Crataegus


    FF-SF will probably not have the numbers!

  • charlies_fighters

    FF, SF, Greeen coalition – role on a greener Ireland.

  • Crataegus


    I would think there is less chance of Greens entering into such a coalition than a Labour-FF government. Their leader has made his view clear on FF and I would imagine many of them would have even greater difficulty with SF. Just will not happen.