Today’s Lucid Talk poll in the Belfast Telegraph should be a wake up call for all politicians in Northern Ireland to up their game.
When asked the question, compared to direct rule from Westminster, how would you rate the performance of the NI assembly? Just 9.4% said it was either excellent or good and that falls to 7.4% when you exclude undecideds. This compares badly to the 66.3% who rated the assembly’s performance as not very good or bad.
The disillusionment is evenly spread across both protestants (57.7%) and catholics (54%), as majorities in both camps registered a negative opinion of Stormont’s performance.
The overall trend is one of decline, as Lucid Talk reported from 2012 that Stormont’s net approval rating sank from -40% in May 2012, to -59.9% today.
Just to put this in context, the Fianna Fail government which was ejected from office after the IMF bailout in 2010/11 had a higher approval rating of 14% than Stormont does today. The Belfast Telegraph when they conducted their first poll on this subject last year noted that the Greek government at the time of their IMF bailout in May 2010 also enjoyed higher approval ratings. Furthermore, the US Congress which is generally disliked by voters, also beats out Stormont with a 19% approval rating.
Gerry Lynch, who is an analyst for Lucid Talk, has this excellent insight about the poll;
This is the sort of score which a politician could expect after being arrested on serious criminal charges.
I’m not sure if this is the standard that Stormont should be shooting for but the numbers speak for themselves.
Just six years into devolution and the current assembly are facing approval ratings that would make most politicians run for cover and stay in bed. Perhaps some of them with take the hint and actually start focusing on issues that the general public really cares about.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs