“Political parties will ignore that explosive mix at their peril…”

Notwithstanding Mick’s analysis of the latest polling figures, today’s Irish Times editorial makes an important point.

AS THE general election campaign gets under way, a high level of volatility persists within the electorate with one-third of voters likely to change their minds, according to the latest Irish Times /Ipsos MRBI opinion poll. That uncertainty is compounded by the fact that a further 26per cent have not made up their minds; have refused to say or will not vote. Political parties will ignore that explosive mix at their peril.

And, as a comparison, here are the figures for declared party support.

The core vote for the parties (before undecided voters are excluded) compared with the last poll was: Fianna Fáil, 12 per cent (down one point); Fine Gael, 26 per cent (up three points); Labour, 19 per cent (up one point); Sinn Féin, 11 per cent (down two points); Green Party, 1 per cent (no change); Independents/Others, 11 per cent (up two points); and undecided voters, 22 per cent (down three points).

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  • Greenflag

    The ‘explosive mix’ is compounded by the fact that now the election has been called the voters know that FF will be hammered and they deserve it . The voters are now also increasingly made aware that an FG/Lab coalition has a flammability of it’s own and that’s before they even get into government . While there is increasing sympathy for the SF ‘burn the bondholders’ line the electorate just cannot see SF in government at this time although SF are likely to make 15 seats . And then there is that undecided 22% plus the 11% independents which makes a volatile 33% and then there may be many former non voters who would have voted for radical alternatives if they had any electoral traction in the past which they did’nt .

    But given present economic and political circumstances SF candidates and some Independents may find themselves the beneficiaries of the votes of those who have never voted before .

  • Cynic2

    ‘burn the bondholders’ is an easy cheap solution of the ‘it wasn’t us, you made us do it’ variety.

    So hurrah for that. But when people vote they will vote for someone who can fix things. They know in their hearts that SF cant and wont. No amount of cheap populist sloganising will change that

  • Greenflag

    ‘But when people vote they will vote for someone who can fix things.’

    You might think that and you’d be right most of the time but we live in times where the ‘fixers’ be they in Ireland or the UK or the USA are in short supply or have no solutions to offer bar self crucifixion for taxpayers everywhere with a double dose for Irish taxpayers .When the Irish people look around at our ‘fixers’ they see the same people who got the country into it’s present ‘fix’ . When they look at the ‘orthodox’ opposition FG and Labour they may wonder what our ‘opposition ‘ parties were doing 1997 through 2010 other than playing the ‘waiting game ‘ None of their economic spokespersons at the time opened their mouths other than to demand more for their ‘constituencies’ .

    In truth the only real opposition we will have in the new Dail is SF and the Independents . Fianna Fail will be too busy trying to repair their battered party or hold it together .
    Labour are in the grip of the public sector mandarins and FG are in the grip of the IMF/ECB as is FF.

    SF seem ill prepared for this election . Had they run more and better candidates they might have surprised themselves by the result. As more and more voters fully comprehend what the last Government signed us up for with the full cooperation of the so called FG & Labour opposition we may see more ‘famous ‘ faces dropping out of sight at this election.

    .

  • Mick Fealty

    So why the slow surge in the FG vote GF?

  • Mack

    ‘burn the bondholders’ is an easy cheap solution of the ‘it wasn’t us, you made us do it’ variety.

    It depends on the bond holders. It is what should have happened to the bond holders of Anglo prior to the injection for €35bn of taxpayers money into that black hole.

    Companies go bust all the time, the government doesn’t refund their creditors. This is capitalism.

    There are two problems

    #1 Systemic european-wide risk
    #2 The banking guarantee

    #1 means Europe has skin in the game and an interest in equitably solving this problem. #2 was a moment of madness which socialised private losses.

    FWIW Fianna Fail has already burnt Anglo bondholders (holders of subordinated debt). That rubicon has been crossed already.

    We need an ongoing (intelligent) debate on how to deal with the massive debt burden we are being lumbered with.

  • Mack

    @Greenflag

    As more and more voters fully comprehend what the last Government signed us up for with the full cooperation of the so called FG & Labour opposition we may see more ‘famous ‘ faces dropping out of sight at this election.

    At the crucial moment they had the support of FG and Sinn Fein, but not Labour in guaranteeing Irish banking liabilities without consulting our European partners.

    Perhaps you could elaborate on why you think unilaterally restructuring senior banking debt, in the teeth of european opposition would be less costly than negogiating an EU-level solution to the problem?

  • Reader

    Cynic2: But when people vote they will vote for someone who can fix things.
    It depends on whether the dominant emotion on election day is fear, or anger. That will determine whether the electorate votes for technicians, or rebels.

  • Greenflag

    @ Mack

    ‘Perhaps you could elaborate on why you think unilaterally restructuring senior banking debt, in the teeth of european opposition would be less costly than negotiating an EU-level solution to the problem?’

    That’s not what I think i.e unilateral restructuring? Where did you get that idea . There will be restructuring and it will have to be at EU level and there will be a price but I never said that Ireland could follow the Icelandic example except perhaps in more vigorously pursuing some of our teflon ‘bankers ‘ .

    When the election is over and

  • Greenflag

    @ Mick ,

    ‘So why the slow surge in the FG vote GF?’

    If the electorate had confidence in FG the polls would by now be at 35 or even close to 40% for them . The much hyped line that Civil War politics stops FF voters crossing to FG is overhyped . There is as yet no majority belief that an FG /Lab government will prove up to the job -other than they can hardly be less up to it than the previous government .
    Where SF will fit post election is a whole other story but I’m unsure whether they’ll be yapping at the heels of Labour or FF. FG will have a plurality.

  • Mack

    @Greenflag

    Where did you get that idea

    Nearly all of your comments of late.

    The policy difference between Pearse ‘burn the bondholders’ Doherty (SF) and Leo ‘burn the bondholders, and burn them quite severely’ Varadkar (FG) is that the former is in favour of pulling out of the deal with the EU and enforcing haircuts on the holders of senior debt regardless of our European partners views. The later is, like the Labour party, in favour of renegotiation.

    Maybe the subtleness of advocating negogiating with our EU partners means their position get’s misconstrued as one of meek compliance?

    They might get nowhere, of course, but as Bill Bonner is fond of pointing out ‘people come to believe, what they need to believe, when they need to believe it’. That is to say Ireland doesn’t really have much choice about the path we’re on, if we don’t get the support we’ll wind up taking progressively harder lines of necessity..

  • Mick Fealty

    @Greenflag

    With respect, you are just changing the question.

    The best FG has achieved in the modern era was 37.3% in November 1982. Back then, Labour lifted less than 10% and FF was still 10% ahead of FG. The Workers Party got 2.2% (squeezing three seats out of it) And Jim Kemmy was the nearest thing to an independent.

    The market has segmented massively since then, and FG are close-ish to the upper end of their traditional strength.

  • Greenflag

    @ mack ,

    ‘Nearly all of your comments of late.’

    I try to express my thoughts clearly but sometimes I may have overreached an emphasis or two which may have led to your ‘misunderstanding ‘ or misinterpretation .

    @ mick ,

    ‘you are just changing the question.’

    Not intentionally . FG should over the past two years have gobbled up the former PD vote plus that of many independents such as Shane Ross among others . The economy today in comparison to 1982 is in an even worse bind. . Then it was mostly a home grown crisis brought about by the failure of successive governments to tackle the out of control public sector costs and the earlier oil price hikes and high inflation.

    The difference is that FG then (1982) had a credible alternative Taoiseach i.e Garret Fitzgerald or at least so it was seen and believed by the electorate . I accept that the market has ‘segmented ‘ since then and it’s now ‘segmenting ‘ again as FF and the Greens and SF are about to find out . I believe FG would be further ahead under different leadership and I suspect a lot of would be FG voters and FG candidates would think the same . A bit like SF but for different reasons they have squandered a once in a century opportunity to rise up to another level on the political pyramid .

  • Mick Fealty

    You’re still not getting my point. You are looking at Enda’s performance and saying they could do much better without him. Even though the party ratings are at the upper end of their historic performance.

    If Enda wasn’t Enda? But he is, and there’s no one beats him in his party. Noonan tried the top job and failed. Bruton tried for it and failed. And the young turks: Brian Hayes, Simon Coveney, Leo Varadkar are all just too young to step into the leadership role.

    Enda’s what they’ve got. Enda’s not going to lose the election for them like he did last time. Because this election, it seems to me, is shaping up to be the leader doesn’t matter election.

  • fordprefect

    Mick
    I not so sure about the “leader doesn’t matter election”, at least in SF’s case, as Adams seems to be doing SF more harm than the rest of the political parties combined!

  • Greenflag

    I agree that in terms of the election result as to the make up of the new government -this does look like a ‘ leader doesn’t matter ‘ election .

    ‘the party ratings are at the upper end of their historic performance.’

    True as regards historic political analysis but when we look around at historic analyses of the other parties we should see that we are in a politically volatile time without precedent in the Republic . FF were not too long ago ( the modern era) at just over 50% -they are now hovering around 16% – Labour could barely command 10% and are now at 19% and some polls had them much higher . SF seem about to doubling their numbers in the Dail and most volatile of all are independents 11% and undecideds 22% . ,

    I’m not sure that in these circumstances it makes much sense to talk about core votes or traditional support at least in terms of predicting constituency results .

    When it’s all added up about half or more of the electorate are either independent, undecided or are opting to vote for another party -then it seems to me that FG as the main opposition party should be doing a whole lot better than they are . It may be that as we approach election day their vote may increase as the undecided vote opts to strengthen FG’s numbers in the new Dail .

    I have read many analyses re the relative decline in the FG vote over the past couple of decades and they range from the perception that they are/were the party of the large farmer , army , legal establishment and old money to the more ‘constitutional ‘party , as compared to FF’s more catch all appeal . I recall even reading one analysis which put forward lower birth rates of FG parents as compared to FF parents as an important factor in their ‘decline ‘ .

    And yet Fitzgerald managed to get to 37% in an era which in hindsight was much less economically volatile than now ?

    Maybe the ‘relative ‘ immobility of the electorate in NI where any major shift in voting patterns since NI was established has been within the two ‘tribes’ framework i.e SDLP to SF and UP to DUP has influenced your judgement ? . I certainly can’t think of any NI election where the support for the main governing party has taken a 60% drop . But that’s what FF are now facing .