Sinn Fein on the way back up?

So, that Irish Times Poll. The core vote for the parties when the undecided voters are included is: Fianna Fáil 35 per cent (down three points); Fine Gael 19 per cent (down one point); Labour 8 per cent (no change); Sinn Féin 7 per cent (up two points); Green Party 6 per cent (up three points); PDs 1 per cent (down one point); Independents/others 6 per cent (down one point); undecided 18 per cent (up one point). From a Sinn Fein perspective it is a much needed relief in nearly two years of slide (though a two per cent rise is not exactly a swallow, never mind an early summer). The last time the party picked up decent core vote figures was June 2005, when, despite a hammering in the press over the Northern Bank robbery and the murder of Robert McCartney, they turned in a robust performance:

The core support for the parties is Fianna Fáil 31 per cent, down 5; Fine Gael 19 per cent, up 2; Labour 10 per cent, up 1; Sinn Féin 9 per cent, up 2; Progressive Democrats 3 per cent, unchanged; Green Party 4 per cent, up 1; Others 8 per cent, down 2.

It remains to be seen whether the party can actually move forwards. Despite understandable temptations to spin this as a bounce, it won’t be clear until the election itself whether SF’s fortunes are back on track.

If there is a bounce, it is in today’s leadership figures which gives Gerry Adams a significant bounce of 7% in his personal rating. However, it would hard to push that line too far since in the same poll Michael McDowell, who’s party, according to the poll, appears to be sinking beneath his feet, has risen by some 6%. It is a notoriously fickle measure of mood, rather than long term attitudes.

Over the same period the Greens appear to have consolidated their base up better than most. Indeed Adam Maguire notes could put them in an important position when it come to the horse trading to form the next government.

For a decent tracking poll, check out Guth an Phobail (Voice of the People). It’s written in Irish, but the stats are readable in any language!

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  • mickhall

    Mick

    Interesting poll, not least because the more progressive minded party’s SF, Greens and Labour, poll jointly 21%, if you add the progressive minded indies who get into the Dail like Tony Gregory, then the left could emerge with real pull if they can draw up a program on what they agree on, instead of engaging in bitter arguments about their political differences.

    I realize it is unlikely to occur, but food for thought perhaps, as individually they will not amount to being anything more than a smal part of a reactionary coalition, loosely united they could actually shape any coalitions they gave their support to policies.

  • kensei

    It’s actually more than 21% on the latest poll.

    The problem of course, is all those parties are competing for the same vote and have to screw each other as much as possible. Though an implemented package of a few key items that works after the election might be able to expand the vote. It’s the catch-22, really.

  • kensei

    Ah didn’t read your post right, was counting independents, tis 21%

  • lib2016

    There are still quite a few social democrats hidden among the rightwing populists of Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael, not to mention all those in the middle who recognise the crying need for a reformist government in the South.

    It’s too late for this election but another five years of Fianna Fail plus will see the demand for change become unstoppable and hopefully Sinn Fein will be part of that change.

    Hopefully it will lead to the breakup up of the old Civil War parties for good – what exactly does Fine Gael stand for now?

  • Henry94

    The PDs at 1%! Bring back Mary Harney!

  • Brian Boru

    Whatever FF says about ruling out SF, it is now clear that they may well be kingmakers in the next Dail.

  • Cormac

    I agree, whatever the Taioseach may say or imply about SF’s economic policies not being compatible, if it makes the numbers add up and gets Bertie back into government, he’ll do it.

    Never let principle stand in the way of power!

  • Henry94

    Labour will go in with FF to keep SF out one last time

  • Interested observer

    ‘SF as kingmakers’ remarks are well wide of the mark.
    You have to have an alternative to act as kingmaker. SF alternative to FF coalition eh.. FG coalition.
    Bertie could well just govern as minority govt as the opposing forces come from opposite ends of the spectrum.
    After a couple of years he could call another election – blaming the other parties for not letting him get on with it.

    Equally daft is this ‘keeping SF out one more time’ as if they will some form of special entity with a right to be in govt. They area minority party with a policy programme that is largely out of line with modern Ireland or Europe – esp on economics.

    In many ways I’d love to see them in power – so that they can push forward Thatcherite PFI policies as efficently as they did in the south. The big difference is that in the south they would then ultimately pay the price at the ballot box unlike in the north where like the unionist parties they just pander to ethnic division and a facist notion of a ‘pure’ Ireland

  • DMCM

    People usually vote for a party of principles in any normal election. Sinn Fein have sold out on all their principles. Sooner or later their rise will become a fall, just like in 1922.
    Their current popularity is currently based on grabbing media headlines and not the values of the party.
    Fianna Fail and SDLP should merge as a 32 county party as they have maintained their raison d’etre and would have much more success in bringing about a new united Ireland.

  • Cormac

    “Fianna Fail and SDLP should merge as a 32 county party”

    Makes a lot of sens – provided FF are always in power in the South! Unlikely, though.

    I think the SDLP are happy cozying up to whoever is in charge in Dublin, rather than aligning themselves permanently with FF.

  • lib2016

    Henry94,

    “Labour will go in with FF…… one last time”

    Precisely – that’s also why the SDLP won’t decide between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. There’s no need to do so and there are big changes coming further down the line, including a possible breakup of Fine Gael with the rightwing joining FF.

    The Labour leadership is old and doesn’t have to worry about the future. This is their last chance for power.

    Sinn Fein are only getting their feet under the table down South and it’s all to play for. To get too close to FF would betray the disadvantaged where their best chance of building support lies and doesn’t make sense from any point of view.

  • NewIreland

    “Fianna Fail and SDLP should merge as a 32 county party”

    This would be great see in terms of having a 32- county democratic nationalist party, though practically, there is no real need for it, as they both work hand in glove as partners anyway.

    Maybe one of them could formally become the so-called “sister party” of the other, like the ruling CDU and CSU in Germany (one being the Bavarian branch of the other, a nationwide party)

    But practically speaking, SDLP-FF both have their little fifedoms, and those of their membership who are in strategic positions would probably not want to be discommoded by such a change. Add to that 70+ years of 26-county parochial mentality of the Fianna Fail yokels and their 70+ years of meaningingless republican platitudes and they seem more of a misfit that anything else…

    Additionally, one party is center right traditionally, the other center left (in fact, I believe SDLP is a sister party of UK Labour ?)
    But nobody cares about those old fashioned left and right labels these days….

    They could merge and do some corporate rebranding followed by a Corporate Makeover (TM) and emerge, New Labour like as a 32-county Euro-style “Forza Eire” or something like that….

  • mickhall

    In my experience it is only ex social democrats who have become avid supporters of neo-liberal economics or right of centre conservatives, who go on about no one caring anymore “about those old fashioned left and right labels these days….”

    The fact that progressive party’s may poll 21 plus per cent of the vote, makes nonsense of such talk, as it is clear an increasing number of people are sick of an Ireland of boastful haves, whilst the have-nots live in unnecessary poverty. Plus the gross inequality that is so prevalent within Ireland and the UK today.

    True few want a Stalinist or bureaucratic socialist state, but many are hoping for a more equitable social democratic society. As to New Labour and its Italian sidekick, they are both well past their sell by date, not least because the sado Mr Berlusconi has been reduced to taking advice from a public relations outfit to ask his wife to write a letter to the press in the hope of it making him look more human and less criminal. Little good it will do him, as like Blair he has made so many enemies, that they will both have had a result if they manage to stay out of Jail.

  • Wilde Rover

    Those damned Greens, interrupting our perfectly legitimate argument over the positioning of the deckchairs with the spurious claim that we’re about to hit an iceberg.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “True few want a Stalinist or bureaucratic socialist state, but many are hoping for a more equitable social democratic society.”

    Equality can only come at the sacrifice of liberty, the pretensions of the French Revolution not withstanding.

    Wilde Rover: “Those damned Greens, interrupting our perfectly legitimate argument over the positioning of the deckchairs with the spurious claim that we’re about to hit an iceberg. ”

    The iceberg was some thirty or forty years ago… now they worry that the iceberg has done melted, or at least will, all on the word of a collection of scientist who cannot, with any real assurance, tell you what the weather will be on Tuesday.

  • páid

    Nuacht TG4 reported last night that one of their Donegal councillors voted AGAINST planning permission for a local because of concerns that his site fronts a major road. i.e in the public rather than an individual interest.

    Any more of this shit and they are in serious danger of getting a transfer from me.

  • mickhall

    Equality can only come at the sacrifice of liberty, the pretensions of the French Revolution not withstanding.

    by Dread Cthulhu

    That is simply not true, indeed inequality is in itself a threat to our democratic freedoms, as it encourages people to either look for short cuts to make society more equitable, or makes those with great wealth look to fascism and dictatorship to maintain themselves at the top of the dug heap of a society they have helped create. Thus they come to believe that their economic wealth demands that they have rights over and above the rest of us common men and women and act accordingly by financing people like Adolf and co.

  • Wilde Rover

    Dread Cthulhu

    I think my point was that there are a lot of intelligent, determined, articulate people on slugger.

    There are also belligerent, obnoxious, infuriating, vain, conceited, maudlin, ignorant, and down right pain in the hole gobsh1tes that post all the time.

    And I think that anyone who has been posting for a while will probably fall into most, if not all, of these categories.

    I know I probably do.

    It just seems like the sh1t is about to hit the fan and people need to prioritize.

    P.S.

    Kudos to the Slugger crew.

    Thanks for making us hurlers on the ditch look so good.

  • People usually vote for a party of principles in any normal election.

    So how come Fianna Fail have been in power in the South for most of the past 70 years.

    Those damned Greens, interrupting our perfectly legitimate argument over the positioning of the deckchairs with the spurious claim that we’re about to hit an iceberg.

    You know, it’s this sort of superior twaddle that always relegates the Greens a couple of places down my ballot paper. While the rest of us are just slimy pols with slimy political beliefs squabbling like little children, the Greens are the only party tackling the really important issues threatening the whole future of the planet. GIVE UP YOUR BLINKERED SQUABBLES. VOTE GREEN OR WE WILL ALL DIE!!!

    No thank you.

  • mickhall

    “the Greens are the only party tackling the really important issues threatening the whole future of the planet.”

    Sammy,

    For all the short comings of the Greens, there is an element of truth in the above surly? Indeed I am surprised that they do not make more of “we told you so” type of attitude, as I am dam sure if the shoe was on the established political parties feet they would be having a field day, especially after the report which was issued yesterday on climate change etc.

    all the best.

  • For all the short comings of the Greens, there is an element of truth in the above surly?

    The Greens’ anti-growth, anti-development and anti-growth attitudes can only result in forcing us into poverty or seeing the environment ruined. They may be asking the right questions (maybe) but they aren’t coming up with the right answers. And they can be so pompous in the way they do it as well.

  • It is worth noting that the party leader’s ratings are of how well everyone thinks someone is doing their job as leader. However it doesn’t take account of the view that people outside that party think that job actually should be, so it is entirely possible that say members of SF think that McDowell is doing a great old job of being PD leader when their view of his job is to motivate the morale of the SF base while driving the PDs overall support over the edge of a cliff. There are probably lots of other supporters similarly inclined. In a similar vein, I would think SP voters are only delighted with McDowell’s leadership to date.

    Also, Stephen Collins noted that the figures behind McDowell rise were due to a 15% rise in support from FF voters coupled with a collapse in support from FG voters. Probably old timers who thought of he as that nice young man who used to be in FG. McDowell is Pat Kenny to Mary Harney’s Gaybo, showing everyone how even though Mary made it look easy, it was actually quite hard keeping the PD ship afloat.

  • Wilde Rover

    Sammy,

    You are probably right that the Greens would make a balls of things if given the chance. I’m not a “Green” (I’m a voter, not a member of a political party) and I understand how they can wind people up.

    If mainstream parties adopted greener policies I’m sure they would probably be more effective than the Greens, who do tend to shoot themselves in the foot.

    It’s just that we’ve been in a burning building for the last twenty years arguing over whether or not the place is on fire, and who started it.

    I just think it’s time somebody actually got around to figuring out how to put the damn fire out.

  • Crataegus

    If SF have any role it will be as a lever in negotiations with Labour, Greens or PDs. FF, a party with enough of its own baggage, will not want SF with the possible problems that it would bring. Also why should FF give SF a leg up if there are better alternatives?

    Sf may gain a couple of seats thats about the height of it.

    As for FG splitting up etc just don’t see that happening.

    With regards SDLP they should consider links with a southern party.

  • Crataegus

    Sammy

    The Greens’ anti-growth, anti-development and anti-growth attitudes can only result in forcing us into poverty or seeing the environment ruined.

    Even I as an ardent, capitalist developer with good reason to dislike tree huggers know that is bollocks. The environmental movement is a wide body and ranges from the horse food eating tent dwellers through the not in my back yard self centred egotists to the more pragmatic and dare I say right wing economist types.

    The tent dwelling types are idealists and follow their convictions and as such command respect (of sorts) but not for me. The NIMBYs are totally about self interest and imposing their views on others and are a real pain in the lower regions. Cannot abide them. However the pragmatists make a lot of sense on economics and development and some of their arguments are sound.

    In my opinion there is a big difference between environmentalists and Green Parties. The Green Parties because they are faced with political reality tend to be pragmatic and the closer to power they come the more pragmatic they are. Also many have policies that to my eye tend to be on the right rather than the left wing.

    Wild Rover

    The problem with Sammy is he is worried that Greens will take votes of Alliance in places like South Belfast and North Down and wherever they happen to be standing. Election time and the troops are all getting a bit edgy.

    This is one of the problems I have with the smaller parties, I wish they would stop trying to tear lumps out of each other in their squabble over the derisory 5% they collectively poll. There are more votes on the flanks of the SDLP, UUP and SF than there ever were in Alliance and Greens. Alliance etc could do well considering their long term position and formulating relevant policies. What most people know about Alliance is the endless press releases into the local papers and frankly many are well below power.

    If any of these parties are to form an effective centre they really do need to raise their game and they need to think beyond narrow party self interest.

    Conservatives, Greens and others could actually bring more voters out and their transfers may win the Alliance a seat in South Belfast and elsewhere. So good relations may not be a bad idea. IF I were Sammy I would be more worried about a low turnout by the garden centre brigade. From an Alliance point of view what is to be gained running down the Conservatives or Greens unless of course you think they are ahead of you? Surely not?

  • Colin McCormick

    Sinn Fein on the up. Give me a break. Have you listened to the verbal incontinence of their Dail representatives? Aenghus? Arthur? Sean? Martin? Sliveen? Who are these people. Elected democratically and all have been almost silent on every major political issue surrounding the Republic, of course, with the exception of Northern Ireland questions and even then they appear grossly inept, accusing all and sundry that everybody else is to blame for the tragic ills of Northern Ireland. If they should get their corrupt and blood stained hands on the levers of power in this progressive state would the last person to the leave country please turn out the lights.

  • The problem with Sammy is he is worried that Greens will take votes of Alliance in places like South Belfast and North Down and wherever they happen to be standing.

    Actually, much as I can be a bit of an attack dog here, I wasn’t thinking about that at all. You’re doing me a bit of a disservice here, Crat!

    I’m intensely relaxed about the Green ‘threat’ everywhere except North Down and if Brian Wilson can take a second seat for non-sectarian politics at the expense of Bob McCartney, I will be the first to cheer. If Alliance transfers, for example, helped Ciaran Mussen get elected in South Down, I’d be absolutely delighted, although I sadly doubt it will happen. I’d also be all in favour of transfer agreements between centre parties, as someone who always transfers through all the non-sectarian parties before going on, just on principle. Just remember it was the Greens who kept aloof from trying to build a broad coalition of support for John Gilliland…

    I actually have a very un-Alliance viewpoint on the whole environmental movement just as I have a very un-Alliance viewpoint on the 11+ (being one of life’s natural sceptics and all that). Political parties are broad churches.

    The tent-dwelling types dominate the Green Party in the Republic and in mainland Britain. If you’re talking about Green uber-realos like in Germany, well fine as far as that goes, but they are still a minority even over there. And Trevor Sargent is no Joschka Fischer. Besides, the ‘market mechanism’ Greens tend to be in favour of having more indirect taxes; they tend not to be so good at dealing with the fact that indirect taxes inevitably impact more on the poor than the rich.

    Being sceptical about environmentalism is about as socially acceptable as horse theft these days; that’s exactly why somebody has to be prepared to ask the hard questions. Too much is at stake, if either side of the argument is wrong, and too much consensus results in bad policy. Look at last week’s blog by Mick on the degree of exaggeration and assuming of worst case scenarios in the Stern report. Of course, that got zero posts from us Sluggerites because we’re all green and don’t want to hear that the case might be being exaggerated.

    I am capable of having opinions independently of, and even contrary to, Alliance Party. And the Greens are still likely to get my second preference come March 7. But in many ways that just shows what an odd place Northern Ireland is.

  • Crataegus

    Sammy

    On another thread I couldn’t even find out who the Green candidates are and where they are standing so can’t imagine a sizable threat. I assume it is Wilson N Down and Mussen South Down but elsewhere? In North Down it is possible that there are two non Unionist seats if the middle ground get out and vote.

    If Alliance transfers, for example, helped Ciaran Mussen get elected in South Down,

    It is an interesting one this as the divisions in SF around Newry could result in a very respectable vote for Greens, but like you I don’t see them taking a seat.

    I’d also be all in favour of transfer agreements between centre parties, as someone who always transfers through all the non-sectarian parties before going on, just on principle. Just remember it was the Greens who kept aloof from trying to build a broad coalition of support for John Gilliland

    To this day I cannot understand that. Why spend money on an election you can’t win and on a candidate who as far as I am aware didn’t even contest the next council election? Really odd.

    If you’re talking about Green uber-realos like in Germany, well fine as far as that goes, but they are still a minority even over there. And Trevor Sargent is no Joschka Fischer. Besides, the ‘market mechanism’ Greens tend to be in favour of having more indirect taxes; they tend not to be so good at dealing with the fact that indirect taxes inevitably impact more on the poor than the rich.

    It was just an observation the closer Greens get to being in government the more down to earth they become and although we tend to place them in the Left many of their policies seen to me to be more at home in the right of politics. Their views on tax seem increasingly to favour using market forces and some bits I read about enabling people seemed very far from the nanny state. I have a feeling that ‘tent dwellers’ can be hellish frugal! In many ways their general philosophy seems to me to be more at home with caring Conservatism than the Liberal Left, but I am no expert on the matter. Basically I don’t think they are as people perceive them!

    Being sceptical about environmentalism is about as socially acceptable as horse theft these days; that’s exactly why somebody has to be prepared to ask the hard questions.

    Environmentalists are an even wider church than political parties. The type that I have difficulties with are those that will not let us use many of the resources that are there effectively. If I build houses in the country they have to look like a 19th century cowshed rather than being energy efficient or using modern materials effectively. They all use mobile phones but don’t want masts, they don’t want global warming but are hell bent on stopping any development that may effectively address the problem. Again I think there is a big difference between Green Parties and the Nimbys. A fair proportion of the environmental movement are people who are against any change but these I don’t see as political.

    Too much consensus results in bad policy.

    I agree

    Look at last week’s blog by Mick on the degree of exaggeration and assuming of worst case scenarios in the Stern report. Of course, that got zero posts from us Sluggerites because we’re all green and don’t want to hear that the case might be being exaggerated.

    The problems around global warming are so complex and inter related. There is a lot of nonsense and exaggerated claims for solutions. I prefer to look at it in terms of secure energy supply as well as addressing global pollution. I think that part of the problem is that scientists and politicians use language differently. Personally I prefer scientists’ parlance and given they are usually cautious I think we have a major problem looming.

    I hope Alliance, Greens, Conservatives, Labour groups and open minded independents run good campaigns and do well in the coming election, but am less than optimistic. I think good election for the DUP and SF holding. Bad election for virtually everyone else.

  • On another thread I couldn’t even find out who the Green candidates are and where they are standing so can’t imagine a sizable threat. I assume it is Wilson N Down and Mussen South Down but elsewhere?

    Mussen was announced on their website as South Down candidate some time ago. They’ve also said they are targeting North Down, South Down and South Belfast, so I’m not sure if they will be standing at all in other constituencies.

    In North Down it is possible that there are two non Unionist seats if the middle ground get out and vote.

    Just like in 1998 – there’s a sizeable SDLP vote to transfer. Let’s keep the fingers crossed.

  • Crataegus

    Sammy

    I was curious who was standing in South Belfast and if any others were standing elsewhere? Just trying to get an overall feel for signs of life outside the dreary 4. When the nominations are in will be soon enough I suppose.

    Hope thing go well and that some of the main players get results below their expectations. An Alliance gain and SF loss in South Belfast would be very sweet as would a couple of non unionists in N Down. As for South Down if the Greens can pull that one off I will be well pleased. South Belfast or more particularly South Down would be the sort of results that would indicate that change is possible, but if people continue to vote in the same old parties with the same old positions, in a fundamental way, we are going nowhere.