Fianna Fail edging into electoral darkness?

I put together a post on the Irish Times TNS/MRBI poll on Thursday night when the news first broke of this quarter’s findings, I wiped it after coming to the conclusion it didn’t tell us very much about the Euro poll coming up. Today’s offering tells us more. But the truth is that Fianna Fail’s low ratings look like they will have minimal effect on the Euro poll, but the councils could be another matter.

Stephen Collins reckons Fianna Fail (who were in a similar dip in 2004) only stand to lose Eammon Eoin Ryan (who got 11%), who could be in a bear fight with Mary Lou McDonald (14%) for the third Dublin seat. It will all come down to transfers. Sinn Fein are also pullling in resepectable ratings in South with Toireasa Ferris pulling in 12% (although, she’s bunched with three other likely more competitive rivals); Padraig MacLochlann’s on a disappointing 10% in north west, where Pat ‘the Cope’ appears to be saving Fianna Fail’s bacon quite comfortably, after Sean O’Neachtain decided not stand again.George Lee’s jump from journalism looks as beautifully set to get him the South Dublin seat in the Dail, just as the year’s delay between his victory in the Lisbon treaty act as a long brake on Declan Ganley’s hopes to lead his Libertas party from within the European Parliament. Though word is that he’s doing rather better than the polls indicate, and Gallagher rather worse, it may not be enough to get him in. His spats with independent Marian Harkin are thought to be playing against him.

Nationally, the real damage is likely to be pyschological. As Stephen Collins points out in the Irish Times:

Unless there is some dramatic reversal of fortunes in the next three weeks Fianna Fáil will slip into second place in a national election for the first time in 80 years. Even worse for the party, the indications are that it will end up trailing far behind Fine Gael in terms of its share of the popular vote.

Since its Cumann na nGaedhael days, Fine Gael has been decidedly the second choice of the people of the Republic. Fianna Fail’s unremitting micro local focus on constituency and and secondly the nation has served it extraordinarily well over the succeeding generations.

As Dan has argued here on Slugger, substantial damage at the root of Irish democracy, the councils, is likely to hit the natural party of Irish government systemically in its most vulnerable spot: the ward and the parish…

Collins argues a bold move on the part of the current government would pitch the opposition into a position of responsibility at a time when their agendas (Labour and FG) look mutually exclusive. Cowen’s successor might find it easier to rebuild the party from ‘principled’ opposition rather than government benches.

Stranger things have happened at sea…

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