Greens blocking Sinn Fein in the Republic…

It has long been apparent that last week’s elections were simply a stopping point for this year’s main event for Sinn Fein. Indeed Noel Whelan on Saturday picked up some of the early media strategy (subs needed) in the result programmes, in which their front men/women were two of the people they hope will rejuvenate their small team of Deputies in the Oireachtas. However, in the meantime, he warns, the Green Party has been digging in. Sinn Fein may find blocking further progress, in Dublin at least.

Adds: Frank Little begs to differ…

With no more votes to be got for their candidates North of the Border, their choice of spokespeople for election count programmes through Thursday and Friday owed everything to southern political considerations. Mary Lou McDonald, who is now fronting their endeavour to win a seat in Dublin Central, was their representative on RTÉ’s election coverage. On UTV their spokesman was Pearse Doherty, who would have been unrecognisable to most Northern Ireland viewers but will, because of this exposure, be better known in Donegal where the channel has a relatively large viewership.

“…a lot will also depend on the coverage the party manages to attract in the media. Much of that coverage will be generated by events in Northern Ireland. However, there will also be more scrutiny of its policy proposals for the Republic. Interestingly, Gerry Adams’s ardfheis speech last weekend had a greater focus on southern political issues than in previous years, but most of what he had to say about issues like health and equality was bland and negative.

“Indeed, many interviews which Gerry Adams did over the ardfheis weekend were a tale of two halves. When asked about the Northern Ireland elections, Adams was fluent, informed, specific and competent. However, when the interviewers changed tack and asked him about Sinn Féin’s policy position for the general election down South, Adams was evasive, vague and even incoherent. One exchange between Adams and Bryan Dobson on RTÉ’s Week in Politics was almost comical.

He believes the party faces another hill to climb to get out of the minor position it is currently in:

There is no reason to believe that the party will necessarily get an additional bounce here now for finally signing up to policing and even for re-establishment of a powersharing executive if that happens before May. Sinn Féin’s strong performance in Wednesday’s Assembly elections and the poor vote for dissident candidates standing on platforms opposing support for policing will leave many in the Republic wondering why it took SF so long to cross the policing Rubicon.

Although SF support has topped out in the polls, it still sits several percentage points above its vote share in the 2002 Dáil election. They should hold all their current seats, although the intensity of the competition in Kerry North, Dublin South Central and even Dublin South West means that this is not a foregone conclusion.

There are also half a dozen constituencies where the party is well-positioned to challenge for new Dáil seats – the two Donegal constituencies, four constituencies in Dublin. The party also has outside chances in Wexford, Waterford and even in the new Meath West three-seater.

There is, however, another dynamic developing which could also operate against a dramatic rise in support for SF and that is the rise of the Green Party. A surge for the Greens is the one clearly discernible shift in the electorate during this “phoney war” stage of election campaign. SF fishes in the same pool for some of the younger and/or anti-establishment votes and a Green surge narrows the space for Sinn Féin growth.

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  • Crataegus

    Apparently there there have been several polls showing the Greens ahead of SF in Louth and also in Dublin central. Do any of you know how good these polls are, especially given our recent experience in the North.

    SF and Greens will both find it difficult to add seats, neither are likely to double their representation.

  • smcgiff

    Crataegus,

    I think the polls in the ROI are fairly accurate but like any poll three months out, are likely not to reflect the only poll that matters.

    However, I’d imagine SF and the Greens would be the two parties most likely to suffer from ‘pollster bias’. Some might like to be seen to vote Green, and less so, SF – but vote differently in the privacy of the polling booth.

  • Jonah

    That analysis was kind of demolished on Cedar Lounge. Very few people in the South take Whelan seriously as a political analyst.

    http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2007/03/11/the-mystery-of-noel-whelan/

  • bootman

    the most important thing to bear is mkind is [removed,at least try to play the ball, any ball – mod]

  • Crataegus

    Jonah

    I would have thought that the only places that SF and Greens are likely to be direct adversaries is in constituencies that both are targeting. There is very little overlap that I can see.

    SF its the two Donegal constituencies and West Meath, Waterford and Wexford and Dublin Central.

    Greens I would imagine it is Galway West, Carlow Kilkenny, Wicklow, Clare (?) and they are bound to have ambitions of increases in Dublin probably in the constituencies such as Dublin North or North East.

    Where they overlap are in constituencies like Dublin Central and possibly Louth where the Greens seem to have an ambitious councilor.

    Dublin central will be a fierce campaign. We have already seen McKenna highlighting Mary Lou wrongly using Dail envelopes and stationery. No love lost here!

  • mickhall

    Im not sure a smaller party gets votes due to its economic policy etc, floating voters vote for it for two reasons, firstly they do not see what they want from the two largest parties, so they are looking for an alternative so they can punish the government and main opposition, secondly they like the cut of the smaller parties jib. [so to speak] Whether with SF that is because they like Gerry Adams or with the Greens it is because environmentalism is topical.

    As to a smaller party entering government before they have the numbers [of TDs] to exert real power in a coalition, I believe it is a mistake and history proves it so. For when the government becomes unpopular, as they all do sometime, the smaller party will go down with the government ship.

    For a party to consider coalition it should have 15 plus TDs, otherwise I can see few advantages policy wise and all it can hope to achieve is a slice of the pork barreling all government go in for. Which is not to be sniffed at but will only be spread around those party TDs who have ministerial chairs.

  • It’s wishful thinking by the political analysts such as Whelan who have failed consistently to acknowledge the growth of SF as an All Ireland party.

  • smcgiff

    ‘For a party to consider coalition it should have 15 plus TDs, otherwise I can see few advantages policy wise and all it can hope to achieve is a slice of the pork barreling all government go in for.’

    Mickhall, can I respectfully ask if you’ve been keeping an eye at all on the PD led government for the last 10 years in the ROI? 🙂

  • Reds under the Beds

    Aah – no sooner have we had a 6 county election, than the media in the south are pooh poohing Sinn Féin’s chances in the south. ‘The dramatic rise of the green party’ – are they the new media darlings in the assault on the nasty shinners? Interesting

  • Crataegus

    Reds

    The dramatic rise of the green party’ – are they the new media darlings in the assault on the nasty shinners?

    May well be the case.

    I got the press clip below from the Greens website. This poll follows on from a similar poll which showed the Greens displacing SF in Louth? Now that really is a tall order. Apparently there have also been polls showing Greens taking a seat in Dublin North and not SF? etc.

    Green Party Deputy Leader Cllr Mary White gave a cautious welcome to a poll published in today’s Carlow Nationalist newspaper. The poll showed that support for the Green Party has risen from 8 to 12 per cent since the 2002 elections and that Cllr White would take the fourth seat of five in the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency.

    Seems the Greens are genuinely on the rise and are perhaps now in part being talked up by others as a buttress against SF. It is interesting. Who gains?

  • mickhall

    smcgiff

    A good point, but if the PP had not existed would the economic politices of these governments have been that much different, I doubt it as neo-liberal economics were on a roll in the UK and spreading outwards.

  • Crataegus

    Sorry above should have read

    Apparently there have also been polls showing Greens taking a seat in Dublin Central and not SF? etc.

  • URQUHART

    It gives me no pleasure to say it, but OC is right I think.

    Those who rely on the polling and analysis of Whelan and his like as evidence that SF are not going to do well, are in for a rude awakening.

    The points about the the effectiveness of highly organised ground campaigns, made so eloquently elsewhere when talking about the Northern elections, are at least equally valid in ROI. In some areas, perhaps even more so.

  • Reds under the Beds

    I have to say Crataegus, if the Greens take a seat from SF in Dublin Central I will eat my proverbial hat!!

    Mary Lou has already dispensed with Patricia McKenna once (albeit in the 2004 EU election). I also think that this is a naturally republican constituency, Mary Lou has to be a shoe in?

  • medja

    The greens don’t have to be ahead of Sinn Fein on the first count in the overlap contests.

    it’s the 4th, 5th and 6th Preferences that matter and most people in the south aren’t going to give them to Sinn Fein.

    However, the green’s are likely to pick up preferences from across the board. FG and Labour need them to form their rainbow, meanwhile FF will be happy to deal with them if the figures add up. Even the P.D.s who would not be their biggest fans will give the greens a preference instead of Sinn Fein.

  • Crataegus

    Reds

    if the Greens take a seat from SF in Dublin Central I will eat my proverbial hat!!

    I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to make radical dietary changes. Greens are strong in Dublin. Kehoe failed to take the seat last time on 14.6% first preferences. Kehoe was well known in the constituency and had a good base does Mary Lou? McKenna lives in the constituency and will probably be on about 10%-11%. A lot will depend on how FG transfers slit between Labour and Greens and also will Bertie’s surplus go to his running mate?. Also will McKenna eat into the SF vote? It will be a close run thing

    It is the Louth one that is probably impossible it had me choking on my coffee when I first saw it.

    The question however is why bother talking up any party small party? Either the support is there or it is not. Who gains from misrepresentation?

  • reds under the beds

    Crat,

    I think its more a case of a particularly hostile (to Sinn Féin)Dublin media which is prepared to talk up anyone but Sinn Féin, if they believe that this can in anyway (even in a small way) eat into the SF vote and influence the floating voter.

    This strategy has been tried and tested by the northern media (see the Brid Rodgers example), and has resoundly failed.

    In terms of Dublin Central – you are right it will be close. However, I dont think SF would have risked standing Mary Lou if the figures did not add up.. comfortably. I defo believe that this will be an SF gain.

  • Dublin voter

    I live in Dublin Central and it is indeed all to play for. Kehoe very nearly got elected for SF last time but are his votes guaranteed to go to Mary Lou? I don’t think so – he got the votes in Cabra and the inner city for his hard work on the ground in those places. Some of those, I believe, will leak to others eg. Labour’s Joe Costello, Tony Gregory, Bertie Ahern. So Mary Lou will need to get votes out of the middle-class Glasnevin/Drumcondra end of the constituency. That’s where the SF gamble is. Protest voters there are much more likely to vote for McKenna.

  • rumour

    The poll was by Red C and the National Newspapers are predicting Greens to take at least 10 seats in the coming election.

    Rumour has it that the Department of Communications pulled the plug on RTE’s Ecoeye to stem public support for the Greens in run up to the election…How much truth is there in this?

  • Paddy

    So Noel Whelan has suffered the usual fate of those not automatically accepting the Sinn Fein viewpoint.

    Anybody in the media daring to question the infallibility of Sinn Fein will immediately have their professional and personal integrity questioned. Just read the comments from the SF cheerleaders in this discussion.

  • Crataegus

    Paddy

    Anybody in the media daring to question the infallibility of Sinn Fein will immediately have their professional and personal integrity questioned.

    I reckon it is one of the reasons why so many would love to see them have a really dismal election. The joy of it!

    The Greens should have a good election if their level of support holds and comes out to vote, but alas SF will probably also make a few gains so we won’t be able to gloat.

  • prolefodder

    The Greens, like the Shinners, are now an all ireland party, unlike them they’ll get preferences across the board down south (as indeed their candidates did here in NI if you look at the breakdown of the transfers). That’s not their problem – their big hurdle is getting enough first preferences to stay in the race. If the likes of Eddie Hobbs (unlike Whelan who’s a FF hack) is backing the greens (as per his address to the party’s Galway convention last month) as showing the leadership, integrity (clean politics) and innovation that the post-Celtic Tiger needs, then this is some indication of the tide going with the Greens. Best result for them – keep all existing seats and gain Carlow-Kilkenny, Galway, Wicklow and perhaps another south Dublin seat.