Well it’s nearly over, 2014 Ireland had the local and European elections, a Cabinet Reshuffle, resignations and another budget as the current government cross the halfway mark in this term of office.
So, how have the parties been performing over the past year? I took a look at the various RedC polls that have been conducted throughout the year.
In terms of overall party support here is how each party has been performing since 2013.
Fine Gael-25.8% (-2.3%)
Fianna Fail-19.8% (-3.6%)
Sinn Fein-20% (+3.9%)
The government’s approval rating has continued to slide throughout the year. In Fine Gael’s case the resignation of Justice Minister, Alan Shatter made a real dent in the party’s approval rating and in Labour’s case the election of Joan Burton as the party leader has made a very minor difference in the party’s approval and it still ends the year down from its 2013 support levels.
Fianna Fail had been making gains throughout 2013, trending to around 23%, which is were the party ended up in the European Elections, but as austerity continues to bite it is recieving no reward from the loss of support in the government and ends the year down as well.
Sinn Fein, who actually saw their support fall overall in 2013, have gained more support and now in party terms are neck and neck with Fianna Fail for second place in Ireland. The party has trended upwards from the middle of the year moving from the high teens at the start of the year to the low 20s at the end.
Independents have been the big winners of 2014, surging 5% overall to an incredible 26%. Since 2012, the average support for independents has not fallen below 20% which should worry all of the parties.
Undecideds throughout the year still average around 12%, so there is still a lot of play for amongst the main parties. As Ireland heads into an election year (It’s due by April 2016, but speculation/history says it is more likely to be 2015) there is very little margin for error anymore for any of the parties.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs