Sinn Fein move up 6 points in latest Irish Times poll…

Well, two swallows don’t make a summer… but I make a six point rise in the Iposos MRBI poll for Sinn Fein a very nice little earner and well worth a headline:

Fine Gael, 33 per cent (down three points); Labour, 13 per cent (down six points); Fianna Fáil, 14 per cent (down one point); Sinn Féin, 21 per cent (up six points); Green Party, 2 per cent (up one point); and Independents/ Others, 17 per cent (up three points).

That’s a pretty cool reading going into a referendum in which they will likely be some the most prominent voices in the Republic… Taking a simple reading, they appear to gaining at the direct expense of Labour (who are back in their familiar pre-Gilmore Gale slot…) and, I might add, possibly at the indirect expense of Fianna Fail; who in turn lost much of their urban, public sector vote to the warm promises of the Gale…

I’d still be very wary of writing off FF who have stuck like glue to the 15% mark (-1% is within the margin of error) … But this comment on Politics.ie gives some flavour of why party loyalists should be worried:

FF, like FG, survive on the notion that eventually, the electorate will kick one out, and replace them with the other.

That’s what saved the Tories in Britain, but that doesn’t necessarily hold here in Ireland, because proportional representation doesn’t reward side over the other disproportionately as the first past the post system does.

SF are emerging in poll after poll now, as “the second largest party” in the State. The more that happens, the more the idea of them being the alternative gets implanted in peoples minds.

Let me offer another suggestion. The only thing keeping SF at the “low 20’s” right now, is that cohort of people in the middle, who still won’t vote SF because of “the past”, and the fact that Gerry Adams is still the party leader.

He then goes on to suggest that this factor may already being dealt with that that there are rumours that Adams won’t run in Louth next time out. Well, I’ll believe it when I see it. I doubt the party is in any hurry to pick up their next five to six point bounce.

Kathryn Reilly and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn will lead the party’s referendum campaign and get some decent profile under their belt. In Reilly’s case, the aim will be to close that gap in Cavan Monaghan and begin to strangulate the border FF vote by taking the second seat that smart FG vote management robbed her of last time out.

My own hunch is that Adams didn’t jump south just to be a one term TD. Nor did McGuinness run for President for the opportunity of getting out of Stormont a bit more.

Whilst there’s no doubt that building up Sinn Fein is a youngster’s project in the Republic, there’s also no doubt that re-invention and re-positioning especially with regards to that movement’s bloody history is an essential element of that party’s mission. And it won’t be going away any time soon.

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  • Alias

    It’s the protest ‘vote’ over household charge that is bumping up the figures for the Shinners – the same reason why the government’s satisfaction rating callapsed by 38% since the last poll. Unfortunately for the Shinners and fortunately for Labour and FG, a general election is far enough away to render this poll meaningless in terms of seat gains/losses.

  • Alias

    Also, rockofcashel’s point is a good one but somewhat moot: if the public doesn’t alternate then it doesn’t matter who is seen as the alternative.

  • Alias…… There’s such a thing as wishful thinking,

  • Alias

    I know – and just wait for the posts counting extrapolated Shinner bums on Dial seats (complete with toner stains).

  • latcheeco

    This type of confounding headline must be exasperating for those whose analysis is anchored on the idea that the Sinners had previously hit their ceiling in the South and that the union is rock solid because nationalism is now stymied with neither plan nor hope in sight.

    But here’s a thing: nothing will make the border more farcical than the practical reality of the same political party running things on both sides of it, and who would now bet against that.

  • jthree

    Can I, in the grand Slugger tradition, be the first to say that these numbers are in fact disastrous for the Shinners and that the party will collapse in days, overwhelmed by the combined forces of ‘true’ Republicans, a resurgent SDLP and a detoxified Fianna Fail.

  • Fr.Tom

    ditching Adams — 5% bounce
    1916-2016 —- 5% bounce
    total = 31% ..round up to 32%
    1% for each county
    go home to your constituencies and prepare for gov’t !

  • Mick Fealty

    You can jthree… But would anyone believe you? 😉

  • abucs

    Very interesting figures. It will be interesting also to watch progressive movement in the future polls.

    Alias has a point regarding the time to the next election and the relevance of present figures.

  • Drumlins Rock

    6% swings when nothing much has happened seems a bit drastic, but its a big enough gap to cedibly claim they are potentially the second largest party.

    For the government to remain on 46% is still quite an achievment, and for FF to remain in double figures with Bertie’s remaining fig leaves stripped off is amazing. Labour however seem to have caught the juinor partner syndrome, which can be fatal, will they survive?

    Which raises an interesting senario for SF, obviously they want to go into government, the best way to do so is getting an overall majority, but that’s a pipe dream, the second best option is to be a Main Partner in a coalition, being in second place helps there, but you need a partner for that, none of the other 3 main parties are going to play second fiddle to SF for sure, in fact they would form a rainbow government to keep them out.

    That leaves the possibility of being a juinor partner, with FG being the only show to dance with at present, about as likely a partnership as SF & DUP, (no ocmment) I don’t think FG wouldn’t play ball, therfore SF’s only chance of government the next time round or prob even the time after is juinor to either FF or lab, who are both taking a kicking at present, SF easily be at risk of being a victim of their own success!

    Just as it took a period as minor members of the NI Executive for people to get used SF in Government before they took the top role (joint top) it would prob benefit SF to be juinor partners in Dublin too, and who knows take the top jobs in as little as two election cycles, but maybe they could be a victim of their own success and end up a powerful opposition but never the taste of power.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nothing much has happened in Northern Ireland, but the south is awash with controversy almost on a daily basis… Household Charge, water metering, water charges, and the fiscal treaty have all played pretty handily for SF…

    As one of their DUP colleagues put it recently: Opposition is what they do best… and there’s no end of stuff to oppose at the moment…

  • I think there are four aspects here.
    First “the Government” Fine Gael is behaving like Fine Gael (the parallel is Camerons Tories).
    Labour is behaving like the minority party in a coalition (parallel Cleggs Lib Dems).
    Labour is going to take a hit at the next Election.

    Second aspect….Fianna Fáil. They have had a bad month. Maybe will perform better when there is more distance between them and the “cute hoor” culture.

    Third…….the Independents/Others etc……Im not sure how it can be accurately quantified in a poll. I cant think that people see “true” Independents such as Wallace and Flanagan and decide to vote Independent as a result. They would need a local issue/personality to be electable. Obviously the levls for Green or Socialist is slightly different.

    Fourth…Sinn Féin. In terms of its own fixation with History/Legacy, SF “needed” Gerry Adams to stand in 2011. I think he raised their profile to the extent that they maybe got a few extra seats. But for the last year he has looked like an older man slightly detached from the reality of 2012. His enemies would say he is out of his depth (I wouldnt go that far)….just he looks like the Past more than the Future. As indeed do I.
    On these figures, SF can be optimistic. And probably make advances, but that advance would be limited by Adams presence rather than enhanced.
    On pragmatic terms, they would be better without him next time round.
    And I would not necessarily read too much into any decision to step down. He is no spring chicken.
    In a sense the DUP “needed” Paisley to hang around until he was past 80. Indeed he was an asset.
    SF wont need Gerry Adams to hang around that long. Indeed he would be a liability.

    And frankly playing with grandchildren is a helluva lot more fun.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Here’s a question: many commentators suggest that SF’s predominantly Northern leadership (McGuinness, Adams et al) impacts negatively on the SF vote in the South.

    If there were to be a predominantly ‘Southern’ leadership (Doherty, Mac Lochlainn, Mc Donald et al), would that be a turn-off for Nationalists in the North?

  • grandimarkey

    “If there were to be a predominantly ‘Southern’ leadership (Doherty, Mac Lochlainn, Mc Donald et al), would that be a turn-off for Nationalists in the North?”

    I seriously doubt it. Imagine the leaders debates on UTV, a Southern based leader (Doherty) debating with Unionists? Quality.

    Voting for a party with a Southern based leadership is precisely what Nationalists want to do IMO, it merely reinforces their All-Ireland view. 

    I’d imagine that there would always be a Northern aspect to the leadership team anyway…

  • Harry Flashman

    A Fine Gael government with a strong Sinn Fein opposition? At last after merely 90 years proper politics is finally beginning to emerge in the Free State.

    In France the only interesting part of the election is not that between the two inter-changeable leading contenders but the battle for the votes between the far right and the hard left. Greece is on the point of red revolution or fascist coup d’état. Spain is getting antsy as is Portugal.

    Latin America is throwing up left wing governments and the business classes are getting nervous.

    Asia is arming, Indians and North Koreans are launching ballistic missiles as everyone gets ready for the Chinese future.

    Politics is starting to get interesting again. Bye bye focus groups and the rush for the centre, it’s looking like the Thirties or Seventies again, this will be worth watching.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Grandimarkey wrote: ‘I’d imagine that there would always be a Northern aspect to the leadership team anyway…’

    I think that’s right. In fact, the reason why I put quotation marks around ‘Southern’ leadership is precisely because Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Pearse Doherty are in border constituencies and are likely to be pretty clued up as to Northern politics.
    I remember some poor media performances from Adams where he showed a lack of detailed knowledge about affairs South of the border (not knowing what the VAT rate was, for example). They weren’t as disastrous as some made out, but it did look bad. It’s easy to imagine a similar situation with Mary Lou or Peadar Tóibín in a BBC interview. It’s a big ask to expect a leader to have an exhaustive knowledge of two jurisdictions.

  • weidm7

    It might damage the chances of a united Ireland, or at least of converting the odd Protestant to nationalism, if Sinn Féin do become popular enough to get into government. The very fear of unionists is to be forced into a SF country where they would be treated as second class citizens. (not that that would happen in reality)

    If Fianna Fáil got their vote share back south of the border and got their arse in gear to run north of the border, it might seem a far more palatable option for unionists, they have no recent past of paramilitary activity, instead they have a past of bringing Ireland into a more secular, prosperous modern era (before the crash obviously), neither do they have the stigma of sectarian northern politics, they might be able to win over the more practical minded voters of both traditions and none. That and of course their role in the peace process.

  • Mick Fealty

    Exactly NN. But for now, it won’t arise. The job in hand for the leadership is the south, not the north. The sham fights have gone this term in Stormont, and so has any serious signs of political life there.

    Even the dFM was press ganged into the southern project. People in the south like the party’s southern leadership. They are for the most part young, relatively poised and human. And they have a citizens understanding of what the southern polis is going through.

    The oarty’s growth in the south will change it irrevocably, whether it is is ultimately successful or not. It remains to be seen whether what is good for the party is also good for the aim of unifying the island.

    I suspect weidm is on to something, but it is not clear whether FF is going to be in a position to recover the ground it has already lost in the south without adding to its challenges by going back into Northern Ireland.

  • Zig70

    The key for SF to unlock the southern voter is job creation and business clout. I don’t see it yet. The leftist ideals are maybe more important to SF than UI?

  • wee buns

    Not surprising SF (southern) are up in the polls, as they’ve have shown themselves to be most cognizant (buzz word of the week here btw) in how they’ve handled e.g. the household charge issue, by not opposing it outright as the party line, thus ensuring no alienation from centre voters, but reneging publicly on payment as individuals, thus garnering support from the left.
    Similarly on the abortion theme, (Labor’s recent stance is to legalize) has been supported by Mc Donald on a personal level, without committing to party policy. Definite brain activity here.

    By contrast Enda tells us he is ‘cognizant ‘of family hardship while making glorious balls of every new tax possible.
    Labor is doomed to the same fate as befell the Greens – the smirk making ‘Frankfurt’s way or Labor’s way’ says it all.
    FF are just stuck by superglue to the naughty step (to go north may well be their only salvation) – all of which is SF’s good luck.

    No election afoot, so no big deal – but with the referendum fast approaching a rise in support for SF could mean a rise in numbers of No voters.

  • wee buns

    Not surprising SF (southern) are up in the polls, as they’ve shown themselves to be most cognizant (buzz word of the week here btw) in how they’ve handled e.g. the household charge issue, by not opposing it outright as the party line, thus ensuring no alienation from centre voters, but reneging publicly on payment as individuals, thus garnering support from the left.
    Similarly on the abortion theme, (Labor’s recent stance is to legalize) has been supported by Mc Donald on a personal level, without committing to party policy. Definite brain activity here.

    By contrast Enda tells us he is ‘cognizant ‘of family hardship while making a glorious balls of every new tax possible.
    Labor is doomed to the same fate as befell the Greens – the smirk making ‘Frankfurt’s way or Labor’s way’ says it all.
    FF are just stuck by superglue to the naughty step (to go north may well be their only salvation) – all of which is SF’s good luck.

    No election afoot, so no big deal – but with the referendum fast approaching a rise in support for SF could mean a rise in numbers of No voters.

  • Henry94

    I’d say the ideal result for Sinn Fein in the next election would be enough growth in their vote, the left vote and the Independent vote to force FF, FG and Labour into coalition together.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    It’s funny to hear Padraig MacLochlainn described as ‘southern.’

    Isn’t he from Inishowen?

  • Mick Fealty

    As a kid I found it odd being ask to pray for those in the north in a chapel that was all but a few miles to the north of anywhere in mainland Northern Ireland. But as you get older you find yourself getting used to the weird nomenclature that surrounds political discourse in NI.

    Seriously though MacLochlann could pass for a Derry man for the uninitiated. But Derry and Donegal politics are light years apart; not least because in Donegal councils work to priorities set them by national governments in Dublin (not to mention the county manager); whereas northerners work to their own order, albeit on micro projects, or to the grand county council at Stormont. Same difference between Cavan (4 miles from the border) and Fermanagh.

    To be successful in the south SF need people like Doherty, MacLochlann, and dare I say it, Reilly. But make no mistake, despite the Ulster accents, they are training for the much more demanding sport of the 26, not the 6, nor yet the 32. In that respect they are true southerners.

    Amen to that Henry… But do you think FF under Martin would fall for that?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Mick

    ‘…mainland Northern Ireland…’

    You’ve not only gotten used to the weird nomenclature, you’ve just invented one of the weirdest yet!

  • wee buns

    ‘…mainland Northern Ireland…’

    I’m sure that’s merely part of the general schism . From Athlone you go ‘up’ to Cork or Dublin, and ‘down’ to Belfast . To be an island with Europe on your periphery isn’t easy either.

  • Drumlins Rock

    mainland Northern Ireland in essence means Northern Ireland excluding Rathin, and will hazzard a guess Mick could have been somewhere in Innishowen, just north of Carndonagh or else the very top of Fanad, interestingly only the peninular north of Malin its self is further North than Rathlin.

  • Mick Fealty

    Fanad, Balinacrick, very close to the head.

  • Henry94

    Mick,

    He would hate it of course. But the formation of governments is a numbers game and unless FF get off the floor then he might have no choice. How FF get off the floor is a question it would take a political genius to work out. They need something spectacular. Clause 4 squared.

    I notice Mary McAleese is very quiet these days.

  • lover not a fighter

    If things keep going the way they are for FF then I can see a FF rump coming to some accomodation with Sinn Féin. The big question is whether Sinn Féin will have any interest in this accomodation with FF.

    It depends if Sinn Féin continue their progress and whether Sinn Féin are willing to have patience and gamble until 2016 to see if they can attain the position that FF once had.

  • Mick Fealty

    Thats a few plays down the line surely?

  • Alias

    FF was the catch-all party of Irish politics, where the production worker campaigned alongside the managing director. The broad centre is their niche.

    SF only attracts the ‘untouchables’ of Irish society, i.e. the unemployed and unemployable. That’s their niche.

    The public doesn’t have any functioning grasp of Shinner policy, and would be rather surprised if they had any. Therefore, nobody can vote for their policies – they can only vote against another party’s policies.

    Essentially, they’re seen as a party of protest and not as anything else (such as a potential party of government) so any support shown for them in polls above their core base (the ‘untouchables’) has to be understood in the context of the unpopularity of government policy at the time of the poll.

    There is no other valid meaning.

  • lover not a fighter

    Beyond the united Ireland project I don’t believe that Sinn Féin are tied too strongly to ideology.

    If FF cannot see a recovery in their fortunes then they will to look to other options. These are an accomodtion with the Labour party or with Sinn Féin.

    I believe that Sinn Fein and FF are more compatible than than FF and the Labour party.

  • lover not a fighter

    Reply to; Alias at 6:58 pm.

    Were’nt FF once the party of protest and abstentionism .

  • Mick Fealty

    Alias,

    Except that they don’t quite any more. Those are former Labour, former FF voters in the SF column.

    But the vast body of FF deserters went FG and independent, not directly to SF.

    That’s where I think Henry may be disapponted. FF would rather FG carry on in a lame duck administration than come in as a minor player into a governing coalition.

    For now the economy and global instability is SF’s friend. They are the gifts that keep on giving.

    What they really don’t need is if by some perfect storm they end up in power before they’ve worked out what they.might actually do (as opposed to not do) in government.

  • Mick Fealty

    LNAF,

    I would say that combination might be popular enough amongst some in the border areas. Reynolds was once thought to have entertain such notions at one time when he was still influential in the party.

    The question is who would eat whom?

  • tuatha

    Mick – ‘twould seem that neither geography nor political reality are your strong points. I’m always mightily pissed off to hear the isle of Britain referred to as the mainland (a step, or 7 league boot stride, removed from “Continent Cut Off by Fog” headline of the 60s).
    Since you seem to hold your UK p/p close, what cognisance (sic!) do you have of the pure FURY down south at the sheer pusillanimous poltroonery of the TDs (FG/FF) – with honorable but ineffectual exceptions amongst Indie & Labour – who kow-tow to the ECB, whilst mewling & mouthing about the injustice of reimbursing unsecured senior (screw the ‘junior’ – WTF even IS that distinction??) bond holders of the banksters?
    I misdoubt me that the citizenry will have the suicidal courage of past generations to rise up and say ENOUGH! but one lives in hope/phantasy.
    Long Live free Tir Connail.

  • Mick Fealty

    If I’d said mainland Co Antrim, would that have worked tuatha? There’s just a couple of miles between Ballinacrick and Fair Head.

  • tuatha

    mickF – no, not even the same egregious error. There is only ONE mainland, the island of Erin, all 4 provinces containing 32 counties.
    There is another (excluding li’l ole 3 legs Mann) on the way to the Continent but what’s that got to do with this country?
    FitzJHorse makes sense as usual, unfortunately.
    Lurve “FF who have stuck like glue” – a better description might be “like shit to a blanket”.