#GE16 – FG *will* win more seats than FF…

Another dramatic Irish election, with the exit polls proving to have underestimated the substantial fall in support for the government parties. Fianna Fáil have lurched back to within 1.2% of Fine Gael as largest party, 24.35% to 25.52%, and overnight the two were both on 28 seats.

That’s the sort of margin where you can get the party with fewer votes ending up with more seats once the local factors in each constituency come into play. But I’ve crunched the numbers this morning, looking especially at tight races for FG, FF or both, and calling them against the former and in favour of the latter.

I reckon that FG should end up with at least a three-seat margin as the largest party, possibly more.

Detailed table of results so far (above) and how I think it could end up (below), as of Sunday morning:

ProgressFGFFSFLabIndsAAA-PBPGreenSoc Dem
Cork East4/41111
Cork North-Central1/41
Cork North-West3/312
Cork South-Central2/42
Cork South-West3/3111
Dublin Bay North0/5
Dublin Bay South0/4
Dublin Central3/3111
Dublin Fingal2/511
Dublin Mid-West4/41111
Dublin North-West2/311
Dublin Rathdown3/3111
Dublin South-Central3/4111
Dublin South-West5/511111
Dublin West4/41111
Dún Laoghaire4/431
Galway East3/3111
Galway West0/5
Kildare North1/41
Kildare South3/312
Limerick City4/41111
Limerick County3/321
Meath East3/321
Meath West3/3111
My callFGFFSFLabIndsAAA-PBPGreenSoc Dem
Cavan-Monaghantight FF/FG121
Cork East1111
Cork North-Central1111
Cork North-West12
Cork South-Central121
Cork South-West111
Dublin Bay North1112
Dublin Bay SouthSF transfers
decide last seat
between FF and Lab
Dublin Central111
Dublin Fingal11111
Dublin Mid-West1111
Dublin North-Westtight FF/FG111
Dublin Rathdown111
Dublin South-Centralclose between
Dublin South-West11111
Dublin West1111
Dún LaoghaireFG Ceann Comhairle
automatically returned
Galway East111
Galway WestFG have chance
of getting one
of two Ind seats
Kildare North121
Kildare South12
Limerick City1111
Limerick County21
Meath East21
Meath West111
Sligo-Leitrimclose between
FF and FG

Those numbers represent a floor for FG and a ceiling for FF. If FG rather than FF wins the marginal seats in Cavan-Monaghan, Dublin North-West and Sligo-Leitrim, and FG hold off the second independent in Galway West while FF lose to Labour in Dublin Bay South and to the AAA-PBP coalition in Dublin South-Central.

Then the margin between the two parties will be not three seats but twelve; either outcome, or anything in between, is a decent result for a gap of only 1.2% in first preferences.

Assuming that Fine Gael does not immediately decapitate Enda Kenny (who has at least kept them as the largest party), a lot will then depend on his political judgement.

If I was leader of either large party, I think my strategy would be to ensure that there is another election fairly soon that can be blamed on the independent TDs, in the hope that voters will punish them and return to stability.

This has worked before (in 1927, 1943-44, and 1981-82). However, as the New York Times noted yesterday in a different context, times have changed…

Husband, father of three, Irish, European, UK, Belgian citizen, liberal, political analyst, science fiction fan, psephologist, lapsed medievalist, aspiring polyglot.

  • Zig70

    My gut feeling is that this is the end of FF FG and the parties may merge. There is precious little between them in the implementation of their politics.

  • Jag

    Which would you prefer to be – (a) FF with 45 seats from an election where the betting a fortnight ago was that you’d get 33 or (b) FG with 49 seats from an election where the betting a fortnight ago was that you’d get 58

    FF will claim they have momentum behind them, and that FG is on a downward slope. The tail is up on the FF dog this morning, FG is looking downcast. That FF momentum is probably worth far more than 4-seat superiority on FG’s part.

    We’ll get a FG/FF coalition over the next month, possibly by next weekend – remember FG/FF are arch-pragmatists, there is no other stable alternative, and a FG minority govt would fall as soon as it tries to enforce water charges next month. And when we do get the Grand Coalition then, we can all stick out our tongues and yah-booh Mick Fealty!

  • kensei

    Second election seems likely but its a double edged sword for FF – they are liable to come in for a lot more scrunity as a potential government. Could be a squeeze if it does happen though, which means SFs best ever result might not last long.

    Can’t see FG-FF. That leaves SF as the main focus of the opposition which would be a gift to them, particularly if Gerry went in the next Dail. FF in particular would be wary of that, I think. There doesn’t look much else viable, though, particularly if both are excluding SF.

  • Gingray

    Spot on number crunching Nicholas!

  • Discuscutter

    It is going to be difficult to pin the blame for a new election on anyone but the big two as the Independents and all others combined will still be a minority.

    SF and any of the bigger two will still be still be short and require smaller parties and independents in a very large and complex number of parties.

  • Discuscutter

    If there is another election it may well see FF taking over from FG.

    FG never seem to have the stomach for the fight. They gave FF space to come back and if the circumstances were reversed FF would have destroyed then politically and personally, no matter what it took.

    Brian Hayes wrote an article in the Sindo saying that FG had to ensure FF’s survival.

    How could a man like that be made DOE ffs.

  • Discuscutter

    I think it will be that FG will fall back and be cannibalized by FF in years to come.

  • chrisjones2

    The electorate have spoken – the bastards – and all of them at once and shouting different things. The new Government (whatever it is) will feel like the Grand Master at an Orange Lodge meeting in North Belfast.

    SF are hamming it up as usual but its a mixed bag for them

    Yes they have more seats – and fair do for that – but nowhere near the 25% or even 20% of the popular vote projected just weeks ago. And even Saint Gerry is slipping. While very comfortably home he didn’t top the poll in Louth – FF did – and his vote is down 5 points on last time. It may not be just Joan and Edna who are on the move

    So the big winners are FF and the losers FG and Labour…..and Ireland because collectively its people haven’t really taken a decision. They have chosen what they don’t want, not what they do and that is not a recipe for success at this point of the international economic cycle and with the possibility of Brexit looming

  • Discuscutter

    The realistic target and expectation for SF was 15-16%, yeah they fell back, the sustained attacks in the media were incredible though.

    If Adams topped the poll he wouldn’t have brought in Imelda Munster.

    Willie o’Dea has topped the poll for countless elections and he could always bring in a running mate but wants to do so.

    I think that FF are going to overtake FG in the next election and that they will take votes off the in years to come.

    The real change is that the big two are below 50% for the first time and that under 50, they are significantly below it.

  • John Collins

    I am no big supporter of any political party but to say FF is a big winner is debatable as they are a long way from past totals like 84 seats in 77 etc. However I entirely agree with you that Gerry is a huge liability for SF and after 32 years he has long since outlived his usefulness

  • chrisjones2

    OK … but they have the momentum and are on the rise again

  • Discuscutter

    Agreed but.

    This is still FF’s 2nd worst election in history and the concentration of their vote in the 60+ leaves them a lot of future worries.

    They grew their vote by a reasonable amount and that is grounds for celebration but the idea of FF ever returning to the power it had or the dominance it had are long gone.

    The Social Democrats are a party to watch.

  • chrisjones2

    “the sustained attacks in the media were incredible though”

    choosing to openly support tax evaders and their party links to rapists and murderers .was their choice, not the medias

    “If Adams topped the poll he wouldn’t have brought in Imelda Munster.”

    That sounds awfully like the “Gerry Excuse Book Version 6” . At Count 6 she is in the lead and not home yet

  • Greenflag 2

    Coalition is possibly on but a merger ? A bridge too far . Possibly if ever SF become the alternative government in opposition but we are an election or two away from that scenario .

  • Zig70

    You’ll hear the term ‘civil war parties’ more and more. For the year 2016, reconciliation, for the good of the country etc etc. It will be a consequence of staying in power. If FG let go they are lost for the foreseeable future. Especially with SF in opposition (if SF get economic trendiness)

  • Discuscutter

    It would have amiss of him to top the poll. John Bowman, from RTE, who would be very anti Republican was praising Adams to the hilt for it.

    Most people will take one of the foremost electoral pundits in all of Ireland for the last 30 years in to account than either of us.

  • Jag

    Having passed through county Louth, I didn’t see a single Adams-only poster. There were plenty of Imelda Munster posters with her picture, and in text “vote Adams 2”. There were even a few Adams and Munster posters with Gezza in the background. I formed the impression that SF were pushing Imelda Munster heavily and assumed that Gezza’s popularity would get him over the line without the need for wall-to-wall promotion. If that’s an accurate impression, then SF succeeded.

    Agreed though that it is a mixed bag overall, just another 2-3% would have gotten them maybe five more TDs (and probably knocked out Joan Burton).

    Why the slippage? They’ll see negative media, the unfortunate coincidence of the Slab Murphy case and unfair focus on Gezza’s grasp of policy detail. I’d agree with all that, but think the improving economy and sounder policies from their rivals are more significant reasons. As they say down South, politics is senior hurling (ie more professional, ruthless, competitive).

  • Surveyor

    How’s them sour grapes tasting Chris?

  • Pasty

    All very nice but if the 3 Parties that were aligned with the IRA over the years were to form an alliance they would likely be able to form a Government, FF, SF and the Official IRA Party. Now there’s a thing that no journalist has made any mention on as yet.

  • Discuscutter

    They would be about 10-15 seats short of stability.

    Also weren’t FG very close to the IRA, their icon Micheal Collins was Director of Intelligence for the IRA, several of their leaders were IRA leaders as well and countless TDs were.

    It is possible but it would be a real stretch and the idea that Labour would go in or feel that the public even wanted them in.

    It is either FG/FF in one way or another or another election.

    A 7 party Govt. led by FF, excluding FG,with a few Independent might be able to make it but it wouldn’t last a week.

  • Greenflag 2

    The New York Times got it right -i.e times have changed .

    “I think my strategy would be to ensure that there is another election fairly soon that can be blamed on the independent TDs, in the hope that voters will punish them and return to stability”

    In the hope ? Some hope . The independents haven’t lost ground since 2011 . Rather the two government parties have been badly beaten more so than what even the most pessimistic punters had bet on . The risk for your ‘strategy ‘ is that SF will be returned with more seats and Independents will be further strengthened and those who have coalesced into smaller parties such as AAA, and IA and GP will also gain more seats . Look again at Mick’s graph on the decline of the three established parties since the 1980’s . Bucking that trend will require something more than bashing ‘independents ‘ It may require FF/FG coming up with practical policies that appeal to that large section of Irish society for whom the ‘recovery ‘ has been restricted to Dublin 4 and the boardrooms of Corporate Ireland and amongst the ‘protected classes ‘ of the public sector /civil servants . .

    SF and Labour are faced with difficult challenges . For SF to grow beyond it’s present level of support and for Labour to recover from a near political death experience they will have to come up with more than standard left wing theory but present actual alternatives to the present financial sector led dominance of policy which led FG and even more so Labour into the abyss.

  • chrisjones2

    What sour grapes? The boul Angus was quoted crowing yesterday that there would be a government of national unity with Gerry as Taoiseach

    Yeah rigfht.

    They claimed they would get 25% of the vote then massaged expectations down to just 20% . At the moment it is just at 14%

    Now that is good compared to 2011 – but when facing a shambles of a Government campaign and 5 years of austerity is that really the best they could muster and the strategists will soon start to ask why? What was the anchor pulling them down?

    If of course they are ALLOWED to ask that within the party

  • Discuscutter

    What killed FG and esp. Labour was the same thing that always hammers FG. That they don’t care about the bottom half of people and this time that they didn’t do anything to ease the damage on rural Ireland.

    20 of the Govt loses were in Munster alone.

    The recovery is real in Dublin but not outside it. Petty things like closing 139 Garda stations, had a massive impact on rural communities and how they felt for the saving of 500,000. A rounding error given the scale of the budget.

    Too many people in FG who strategize from South Dublin.

  • Robin Keogh

    A Chris now be gracious. SF had two candidates in Louth and the share of the vote was well up. The party divided up Louth strategically to get two TDS elected and it was a huge success, unlike the clusterf##k in Donegal.

  • Robin Keogh

    The wole thing has been an utter disaster Chris , we are all totally gutted. I have no permission to say anything else, baaaa.

  • chrisjones2

    Weren’t they all at one time or another? And which IRA?

  • chrisjones2

    I agree …they should be congratulated on that but the big leap forward will only come when they ditch Gerry and the Nordie Men behind the leadership

    Anyway – enjoy your (partial) victory!!!

    But remember – Gerry has moved from Mr 10% to Mr 13%. It aint seismic

  • chrisjones2

    I admire your statesmanlike admission Robin!!!

  • Paddy Reilly

    I can only suggest you consult your G.P. about your intestinal problems.

  • Robin Keogh

    Its actually 9.9% to 13.8% which is in relative terms an increase of 40% which is kind baby seismic – ish. I am more happy that we have beaten the INM onslaught to be honest 😉

  • Robin Keogh

    BTW, even with two SF candidates in Louth, Gerry still topped the poll. That hurts doesn’t it. Go on admit it, make me smile ????

  • Tadhg Curran

    > nowhere near the 25%

    Sinn Féin has 9.9% five years ago. Bumping it up to 13.8% is pretty good from my vantage point.

    > he didn’t top the poll in Louth – FF did – and his vote is down 5 points on last time.

    In 2011 he was the only SF’er that was elected in Louth. We just had two SF’ers elected in Louth, for which the sole effort behind him in Louth was divided in half in terms of camapign work, votes etc.

    I see the 25% Sinn Féin registered on polls a year ago not as a failure but an opportunity. 25% of voters had vague, positive feelings about Sinn Féin. That is not something to look at as a failure, but as something to build upon. Sinn Féin has a bright future on this island.

  • chrisjones2

    …on first preferences but not overall

    And hardly surprising given the number of people in the area whose livings depend on the old hydrocarbons ……

  • Robin Keogh

    Lol, most would think highest first ptlreference is pretty cool,, SF had more votes in louth than bot FF and FG together 😉

  • Greenflag 2

    Full marks for the obvious . Others above are in denial on the SF performance and while you can understand their anti SF obsessions they seem to be unable to understand numbers above 10 😉 Or so it seems . SF have done very well not as well as some of their opponents might have expected but the political performances of this election which stand out above all others is the rebirth of FF and SF getting more than 20 seats .

  • Greenflag 2

    Yes FG somehow always manage to lose the plot -whether it emanates from sheer arrogance or political naivety or whatever they seem stuck in a niche in Irish demography which prevents them from expanding beyond that core . An older generation will remember the ‘tax ‘ on children’s shoes at a time when shoes were an expensive item for the poorest section of the population .

    ‘they don’t care about the bottom half of people’

    Don’t care is made care for all but the most sociopathic of people be they politicians , priests or banksters .LIke the Tories in the UK or the GOP in the USA and I’m sure there are many other examples out there .

    That is the nature of modern financial sector led countries whose politicians are accountable to the IMF or the EU Central Bank or the USA Federal Reserve . Our elected politicians might as well be highly paid executives on the boards of many of these international financial institutions ( many ex politicians are appointed to the boards of these institutions on retirement ).

    Not all of Dublin has experienced the ‘recovery ‘ either which explains why FF were able to make inroads on what could have been an SF with 30 seats . The fact that AAA and others won seats is indicative of that unwelcome fact for FG . The loss of James Reilly and Alan Shatter in the Dublin area was another sign of FG’s failure to hold their previous electoral gains in 2011.

  • Greenflag 2

    I was talking to a Castlebar man just a few days before the election and he said that Enda was not going to win in Mayo on the scale of the 2011 sweep .His rational for that was that Enda had since becoming Taoiseach done ‘nothing ‘ for Castlebar . Kenny was elected Taoiseach as the anti -croneyism hero who would not descend to FF levels of patronage etc .Which in itself is commendable . But in an economy suffering from the meltdown and the debt crisis Enda was perhaps more than a little naive . Whats the point in having a Taoiseach from your own county if he brings home no bacon so to speak ,

    Crude and shortsighted yes but thats local politics in Ireland . It may be different in NI but there the local Assembly can only dish out very small pork given they have Westminster overseers 😉

    FG’s share of the first preference vote overall was 25.5% . FG’s share of the total electorate was 25.5 % x 65% = 16.7% So less than 17 people in 100 bothered to come out and support Mr Kenny’s FG .

    And therein lies a tale for FF also and SF and Labour as the established parties in Ireland and elsewhere continue to fail to grapple with the underlying dysfunction -lack of fairness ? in modern western economies .

    If interested theres a good article in the WSJ last Saturday by a Peggy Noonan who was Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter . Ironically for right wing pundit -Noonan in recent weeks seems to have finally seen the light as to why both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders together are attracting some 70% of American primary voters .
    Although I don’t agree with all her views expressed she avoided the ‘class struggle ‘ ‘class envy ‘ route of the more staid conservative commentators by referring to ‘protected and unprotected classes ‘ in modern USA . The ‘protected’ are the ‘established ‘ political parties , the civil service , public sector , the highly paid corporate executives and the elite minorities who live secluded lives in Washington DC , New York, Wall St etc . Everyone else belongs to the ‘unprotected’ class and are fair game for corporate , political , or financial predators both American and international . The established elite has now less in common with most ordinary Americans than ever before in USA economic history . You can replicate the same for the UK and/or Ireland ..

    Its not Imperial Russia 1917 or France 1789 or the USA in 1861 but another world recession and the equivalent of guillotines may be on the way.

  • Greenflag 2

    Yes but that was a century ago and since then De Valera had IRA men hanged in the Curragh and when the Free Staters lost the 1932 election to De Valera there was some doubt as to whether there would be a peaceful handover of power . Fortunately for the country William Cosgrave respected the democratic mandate given to FF . Had he not there would have been another Uncivil War at which point the British would probably have let the conflict endure and then when all sides had enough restored to a grateful war weary Free State the ‘benefits of returning to political stability in the UK ‘

    There may be a few British /London taxpayers today who may be grateful that it’s just NI thats a drain on the British Exchequer and not the entire island of Ireland .

  • Robin Keogh

    The problem is these people are nevously biting their finger nails anticipating some tsunami from SF which will justify their doomsday paranoia. They dont seem to understand that parties starting from a low base of practically zero take a long time to build. SF are now by far the third biggest party in the 26 counties and still the most popular party in the whole country, happy days.

  • Greenflag 2

    SF are probably concerned that FF will now in the light of this result make serious their intent to contest NI Assembly elections . Has anybody yet heard of the FF/SDLP merge up to put pressure on SF’s northern fiefdoms ?

    Probably too early for the May NI Assembly election but Martin will stick his oar in one way or the other most likely . And it’s another tool to outflank the FG crowd ? Just a thought . Catherine Zappone (an American independent feminist and marriage equality campaign leader ) has been elected in Dublin South West . Another independent sheeeesh 😉

  • Tochais Siorai

    ‘……Also weren’t FG very close to the IRA, their icon Micheal Collins was Director of Intelligence for the IRA, several of their leaders were IRA leaders as well and countless TDs were….’

    True but there were other traditions within the party. Fine Gael didn’t come into existence until 1933 and were an amalgamation of Cumann na Gaedheal, the pro treaty side of the original Sinn Féin and the what could be described as the remnants of the old Irish parliamentary party. Certainly by the time Fine Gael were founded, all ties with militant republicanism were long gone. Elements of the IPP tradition could be easily identifiable in later generations e.g John Bruton who openly identified with it rather than the old Sinn Féin one.

  • Greenflag 2

    FF don’t want SF in opposition so you can expect Martin to sally north with the SDLP as FF mark 2 to pressure SF .

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘and still the most popular party in the whole country, happy days.’

    How so ? In terms of % of first preferences or what ? If so then their popularity would be a plurality and far short of a majority .

  • Robin Keogh

    I am referring to all 32

  • Greenflag 2

    I understand that -but I need convincing with numbers . Is it just adding SF’s vote in NI with the SF vote in the Republic ?

  • Robin Keogh

    Yes, as i said. The whole country, all four provinces, all 32 counties…. how much clearer can I be.

  • Greenflag 2

    Actual numbers help .