Red C/Irish Sun poll: Fianna Fáil facing annihilation?

It has been reported that a Red C poll to be published in tomorrow’s Irish Sun estimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 13%. Fine Gael 32%, Labour 24%, Green Party 3%, Sinn Fein 16%, Independents/Others 11%. Bad and all as these figures are for Fianna Fail, my constituency level analysis of the poll suggests that on those figures Fianna Fail support would have dropped below a level at which the extent of seat losses are highly accelerated and in which the party faces the dire prospect of returning to the next Dail with seat figures in the single numbers.  Seats won by the parties based on those figures are estimated as follows: Fianna Fail 12. Fine Gael 67, Labour 48, Green Party 0, Sinn Fein 24, Independents/Others 15. These figures would also raise the possibility of a left-leaning coalition government especially as ten of the seats in the Independents and Others category would be assigned to left wing candidates such as Seamus Healy, Catherine Murphy, Joe Higgins and Richard Boyd Barrett.

Constituency level estimates of party support based on these poll figures would stand as follows:

Carlow-Kilkenny 17.4% 40.5% 25.9% 5.9% 10.2% 0.0%
Cavan-Monaghan 10.7% 33.2% 2.6% 2.1% 42.0% 9.3%
Clare 16.2% 48.4% 4.4% 3.8% 9.3% 18.0%
Cork East 10.2% 31.1% 42.7% 1.6% 13.6% 0.7%
Cork North Central 9.7% 28.1% 25.5% 2.0% 16.4% 18.3%
Cork North West 22.0% 59.6% 15.4% 3.1% 0.0% 0.0%
Cork South Central 15.5% 37.3% 24.6% 6.0% 13.2% 3.5%
Cork South West 14.1% 44.7% 24.2% 4.6% 12.4% 0.0%
Donegal North East 16.0% 26.9% 4.4% 0.9% 40.9% 11.0%
Donegal South West 15.7% 26.7% 6.6% 0.9% 48.5% 1.6%
Dublin Central 12.7% 10.2% 27.2% 3.4% 19.3% 27.2%
Dublin Mid West 10.6% 14.4% 26.5% 7.1% 21.9% 19.6%
Dublin North 14.7% 18.3% 25.4% 11.9% 6.8% 22.9%
Dublin North Central 14.3% 31.0% 17.9% 3.4% 9.0% 24.4%
Dublin North East 11.3% 24.4% 32.6% 3.9% 27.9% 0.0%
Dublin North West 13.0% 10.0% 41.1% 1.5% 31.0% 3.4%
Dublin South 15.4% 38.0% 29.4% 8.4% 8.3% 0.6%
Dublin South Central 8.2% 13.3% 39.5% 2.9% 18.4% 17.7%
Dublin South East 9.3% 22.5% 40.7% 9.1% 11.2% 7.3%
Dublin South West 10.1% 19.3% 39.0% 2.0% 23.1% 6.6%
Dublin West 10.3% 20.9% 35.4% 2.1% 9.6% 21.7%
Dun Laoghaire 10.8% 27.3% 37.5% 4.9% 5.0% 14.6%
Galway East 14.4% 53.4% 8.6% 1.4% 8.6% 13.5%
Galway West 13.9% 28.6% 31.4% 4.2% 8.2% 13.7%
Kerry North-West Limerick 7.7% 29.8% 20.3% 1.0% 37.1% 4.1%
Kerry South 11.7% 27.0% 29.4% 1.1% 7.5% 23.4%
Kildare North 11.5% 23.1% 38.4% 2.9% 5.2% 19.0%
Kildare South 17.3% 22.1% 53.9% 4.3% 0.0% 2.2%
Laois-Offaly 25.0% 45.3% 8.0% 1.0% 16.7% 4.0%
Limerick City 18.1% 35.6% 29.1% 2.0% 11.6% 3.6%
Limerick 19.3% 61.2% 17.5% 2.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Longford-Westmeath 12.7% 35.6% 41.1% 1.1% 8.8% 0.7%
Louth 13.1% 34.3% 11.8% 4.8% 34.5% 1.5%
Mayo 7.0% 57.7% 2.5% 0.5% 10.7% 21.7%
Meath East 13.8% 30.7% 28.6% 2.0% 9.2% 15.7%
Meath West 17.9% 37.8% 10.6% 1.8% 28.9% 2.9%
Roscommon-South Leitrim 12.2% 46.1% 4.3% 1.2% 19.5% 16.7%
Sligo-North Leitrim 13.0% 46.5% 9.3% 2.0% 27.3% 1.9%
Tipperary North 9.1% 15.7% 20.6% 0.6% 7.3% 46.7%
Tipperary South 14.9% 25.4% 21.3% 1.0% 7.3% 30.1%
Waterford 14.5% 32.0% 26.8% 1.4% 15.5% 9.9%
Wexford 13.0% 36.3% 32.0% 0.7% 16.7% 1.3%
Wicklow 11.0% 25.0% 35.7% 4.4% 10.6% 13.3%

Seat levels won by the different political groupings in the different constituencies based on these figures are allocated as follows:

Carlow-Kilkenny 1 3 1
Cavan-Monaghan 2 3
Clare 1 2 1
Cork East 2 2
Cork North Central 1 1 1 1
Cork North West 1 2
Cork South Central 1 2 1 1
Cork South West 2 1
Donegal North East 1 2
Donegal South West 1 2
Dublin Central 2 1 1
Dublin Mid West 1 1 1 1
Dublin North 1 1 1 1
Dublin North Central 1 1 1
Dublin North East 1 1 1
Dublin North West 2 1
Dublin South 1 2 2
Dublin South Central 3 1 1
Dublin South East 1 3
Dublin South West 1 2 1
Dublin West 1 2 1
Dun Laoghaire 1 2 1
Galway East 1 3
Galway West 1 2 2
Kerry North-West Limerick 1 1 1
Kerry South 1 1 1
Kildare North 1 2 1
Kildare South 1 2
Laois-Offaly 1 3 1
Limerick City 1 2 1
Limerick 1 2
Longford-Westmeath 2 2
Louth 1 2 2
Mayo 4 1
Meath East 2 1
Meath West 2 1
Roscommon-South Leitrim 2 1
Sligo-North Leitrim 2 1
Tipperary North 1 1 1
Tipperary South 1 1 1
Waterford 2 1 1
Wexford 2 2 1
Wicklow 1 3 1
STATE 12 67 48 0 24 15

Fianna Fail’s percentage share of seats won is well below their admittedly disappointing percentage share of the vote in this poll.  This can be related to the party’s geography of support and their traditional catch-all patterns of support and the fact that there are no dramatic regional variations in party support.  This was a strength for the party when their national support level was polling in the 30s and 40s (and indeed my earlier poll analyses awarded Fianna Fail significant seat bonuses, but is a decided handicap for Fianna Fail when the party’s support levels fall to such a low level.  When party national support levels are as low as this, a party will win seats by relying on high support levels in some constituencies (balanced with very low support levels in others). For the smaller parties such as Labour and the Green Party, uneven geographies of support are usually a strenght. But if party support levels are evenly spread in relative terms, as is the norm with Fianna Fail, then that party will find itself with support levels below the quota in most constituencies.  It also ties in with my earlier stated idea that there is for every party a “tipping point” in their national support levels below which seat losses will be particularly exacerbated as happened with Fine Gael in the 2002 election. It is also worth noting that this model does not take account of the fact that Fianna Fail’s loss in support will be accompanied by an equal decline in vote transfers from other parties. Furthermore, Fianna Fail’s tendency to run more than one candidate in all constituencies would see the party declining support being split between two or more candidates, most of which will probably be incumbents, which could even see Fianna Fail seat losses being further exacerbated.

To make matters worse for Fianna Fail, one of the 12 seats allocated to the party in this model would be Seamus Kirk’s seat in Louth, held by virtue of his position as Ceann Comhairle. On these figures, it is possible that Brian Cowen could retain his position as party leader as no other potential leadership candidates might be left after the election. On these seat levels, the Fianna Fail parliamentary party would look something like this: Brian Cowen, John McGuinness, Timmy Dooley, Michael Moynihan, Michael Martin, Michael Kennedy, Aoife Brennan, Noel Treacy, Eamonn O’Cuiv, Willie O’Dea, Niall Collins and Seamus Kirk.

The other big story here is the significant surge in support for Sinn Fein. This could well be, in part, a reaction to an excellent by-election result for the party in Donegal South West last week – only future polls and of course the election results will determined whether this is a temporary surge or testament to a more sustained trend. If the latter, then such support levels would see major seat gains for the party, particularly in their heartlands in the Border region and the working class Dublin constituencies, but would also offer potential wins in other parts of the state such as Cork City and Laois-Offaly. Such seat gains would be at the expense of Fianna Fail, but these would also be bad news for Labour as the Dublin and Cork Sinn Fein gains may be seats that would otherwise have fallen into the hands of Labour.

53 thoughts on “Red C/Irish Sun poll: Fianna Fáil facing annihilation?

    • A merger of FF and FG is most definately not on the cards, most of the FG grass roots would reject it, not on civil war bull, but because we would not want to be tainted with FF corruption, a split would immediately occur, leading to the formation of a new centre right party.

  1. All the polls before the last 2 or 3 elections had FF lower and Labout higher going in than the actual figures turned out to be.
    A certain % of people who say they will vote Labour end up voting for FF, historically. Maybe this time it will be different, I am not so sure at the moment.

    I am surprised @ the green figures given recent event.

  2. These seat numbers are just plainly wrong. FF will get at least a seat in most constituencies. There comes a point when you have to look at who will be losing out, and who will be gaining. You have Mary Coughlan losing out, Not going to happen. You also have SF winning a second seat here… How is that going to happen? You have FG winning 3 in Carlow/Kilkennny. Thats jut wishful thinking. Especially because McGuinness will still top the poll and give his seconds to Alward and Alward will get enough to get elected. I dont think this is a serious poll and will have to wait for it to come out first to see the real details. I dont think SF has the candidates to get 16% either.

    • well for example if Pringle rejoined SF then it would be likely. Am not saying that will happen, or that it would be in their interest to do so.

    • Yes, on the ground here in Kilkenny that is correct , though Bobby Aylward gets his own vote and is every bit as strong as John McGuiness , has been more so in the past as has his brother Liam Aylward MEP.
      The Aylwards have their bailiewick right throughout South County Kilkenny with John McGuinness strong in the city , and both sharing throughout North County Kilkenny as well .

      Then you have MJ Nolan who basically has the whole of County Carlow to himself for Fianna Fail , between the three of them they can probably drop about 2000 first preferences and still all three be elected.

      And they have been helped by the Labour Party who haveCllr. Anne Phelan , a very ordinary county councillor never much heard of and unknown in the city , though it is always said that historically in Carlow-Kilkenny no Labour Party candidate stands a chance in this old Pattison seat unless they hail from the Kilkenny City , even local Labour members are the first to state this. The Kilkenny Labour Party has been in a state of virtual civil war since Seamus Pattison retired and his nephew was rejected! All this helps the three FF TDs immensely and they know it , most of the Pattison city vote is gone to McGuinness who is a fabulously hard worker , probably the very best hardest working TD in Ireland , with Bobby Aylward not far behind him in this regard.

      Then you have Phil Hogan of Fine Gael who usually comes third on first preferences behind Aylward and McGuinness , and will be joined in the Dail next time round by Senator John Paul Phelan.

      The Fine Gael third candidate in Carlow town is much weaker than MJ Nolan, so the final seat should be either Nolan or Mary White TD , Green Junior Minister.
      There is no sign at all of any Labour Party upsurge in Kilkenny , Seamus Pattison is very bad with Alzeimers, but his brothers, family and political life friends and colleagues are bitter against the present Kilkenny Labour Party though the fighting has ceased for now.
      Three Fianna Fail TDs could in fact be re-elected next time round if MJ Nolan doesn’t decide to retire. Two Fine Gael , looks bad for Mary White the Green , Labour doesn’t even figure , needs a Pattison desperately!
      ( The only place Fianna Fail seems in trouble is Dublin , they’ll have to sort themselves out or go heavily down in the Capital )

      • I can’t help but think that Michael is overlooking a major problem there: none of the three FF candidates he mentioned have enough support to make it to a quota, and their party’s stance at the moment could well mean that McGuinness is the only one of the three who can attract transfers – even from within themselves.

        The FF story across the country will be transfer resistance – and even FF candidates, particularly if Michael is right about how each of the candidates are strong in individual areas – will not give many second preferences to their own party.

        Previously, people supported the person and were happy to endorse the party as a result. That won’t be the case any more. People will vote for the person, but not the party – and with their personal votes likely to fall, only McGuinness can expect to be pushed over the line through transfers.

  3. I thought Tom Kitt was not running in the next election?

    Also in regards to Wexford, how could Sinn Fein win a seat there if they have no established candidate since they had a number of departures over the last couple of years, notably John Dwyer in New Ross and Jimmy Flemming in Gorey.
    Unless they had a high profile candidate announce their intention now I don’t think SF have any chance here.

    Like all polls, party preferences may not reflect candidate preferences in each constituency.

  4. Agree with Anonymous above, these seat projections completely ignore the realities on the ground. The seat figures are completely unrealistic, FF under 30 seats would be a (pleasant) surprise for me.

  5. FF are caught between a rock and a hard place, electorally – the sheer volume of their current TDs means that they’re going to have to load their tickets with more people than can legitimately hope to get elected. Take a constituency like Meath East (2 FF, 1 FG currently) – Johnny Brady and Mary Wallace are both pretty poor and neither has fantastic chances of reelection; if the party only put forward 1 candidate then there’d be a hope of that person getting in, but with the desperate share of the vote being as it is, running both (essentially the only option, as few TDs will want to just bail out) means there’s a risk of neither making it.

    FF’s stance now is like Labour of an election or two ago – and running the volume of candidates that FF ordinarily do is political hari-hiki. It’ll be interesting to see whether this point settles within the FF ranks and some TDs realise it would be better for them, and for the party, if they cut their losses and decided not to run again.

    • Sorry Gav, but poor old Johnny Brady is in Meath West, with Dempsey.

      Dead Man walkin’

      Meath East has Thomas Byrne & Mary Wallace.

      Agree with everything else though.

      FF = RIP

  6. Very interesting. I would think FF could hold on to closer to 20 seats with 12% or higher. Their transfer repellence will hurt them badly though.
    SF taking three seats in Cavan Monaghan seems a bit high, but if that surge holds I can see them take lots of last seats here and there.

    Most interesting thing of all is that LAB + SF + Oth = 87 seats on your projection. While I doubt it would happen, it gives Labour bargaining power, whcih will improve their position in negotiations with FG.

  7. these results have nothing to do with anything even approaching reality, projections based on projections, with wild presumptions thrown in

  8. Cant see SF running three candidates in Cavan/Monaghan, Doubt if they will get/run two in both Donegals/Louth, thought they lost John Dwywer in Wexford too. Just cant see them getting 24 seats on 16% when they could only get 4 seats when polling around 10% in 2007. Old problem with transfers in particular.

  9. Clearly my earlier prediction that Labour + Sinn fein +lefts could have a numerical majority was correct. And this is before the budget! After Jan 1,there will be money missing from the pay cheque, the welfare cheque, the occupational pension cheque.

  10. Gav needs to get the basics right , before boring us with his conclusions.
    In Meath , both Brady ( Meath West) and Wallace (meath East )are in two different constituences !!!!

  11. As for sinn fein “not having the candidates”, a perusal of their website shows that they have a county councillor in most constituencies. The labour vote is “soft” but not in the sense that it could return to Fianna Fail or Fine Gael. It could go further to the left.

  12. For info, my projection (which uses a combination of formulae) comes up with a very similar national total, although the distribution is somewhat different, headline figures FF 14, FG 62, LP 47, SF 26

    I also use an average of the uniform swing, but also the swing in the vote against each party (e.g. the non LP vote in this case is down from 90% to 76% nationally, so I calculate the swing in non-LP vote in each areas) and the average is then weighted by the % of Spring Tide in each area in ’92. The effect is a ‘flatter’ vote, e.g. SF only get 2 seats in Cav-Mon, but get one in Carl-Kilk, LP only get 2 in Dub SE but get one in Meath W.

    The reasoning of using the “non-” vote is that the swing is away from other parties as much as for the parties that get them – used it and I find it helps make the new distribution closer to what happens when there are big swings (or at least did in the past)

    As for those who are saying we’re both wrong and these outcomes can’t materialise in real life, they might benefit from reading this….

    • @Dotski

      Your excellent analysis shows combined Lab+SF = 73.

      Also, you say,

      OTH 15 (at least 8 of whom would be unambiguously left-wing)

      So, are we on the cusp of a really seismic shift in Irish Politics…..

    • Sinn Fein hasn’t a hope in Hell of getting a seat in Carlow-Kilkenny , they only have Kathleen Funcheon a Borough Councillor who failed even to get elected to the County Council last June – in the midst of the recession. Nice person but Godawful speaker, doesn’t do anything . And as I say , the power of McGuinness and Aylward will blow Labour’s Anne Phelan out of the water!

      • Add: No way can the Aylwards , steeped in Kilkenny hurling& farming , be discounted so easily – and McGuinness is AWESOME!

  13. Am I correct in reading that it is predicted that Brian Lenihan will lose his sest in Dublin West? He has a loyal following- I’d be surprised if this prediction turns out to be true.

  14. I suggest that in addition to using the different instruments of projection used here, we also add a healthy does of common sense and a localist/cultural understanding of individual constituencies.

    Remember that prior to the British general election earlier this year all the hype and exciement was about the arrival of a viable ‘third party’ on the scene, the Liberal Democrats. Projections of more than 30 per cent of the vote and up to 100 seats proved well off the mark; the Lib Dems ended up with a slight increase to 23 per cent of the vote and actually dropped in the share of seats from 9.6 per cent to 8.8. And this was in the context of an incumbent party (and PM) which was widely unpopular. And, yes, I know it is an entirely different electoral system.

    These projections suggest that FF will be left with no representation at all in Cavan-Monaghan, Donegal, Kerry, Longford-Westmeath, Mayo, Meath, Roscommon, Leitrim, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford, and Wicklow. Now if Ireland had a first past the post system I might well be prepared to believe that this sort of meltdown was possible. Or even a Canadian Progressive Democrats-style 1993 collapse. But in a PR-STV system it seems very, very unlikely. If FF managed to get past the 20 per cent barrier in a by-election held at a time of national hysteria, what odds that that Mary Coughlan at least manages to hold in a general election? Especially in a context where they may go into the election with a new leader.

    I would suggest that if they do the smart thing (no guarantee of this at all) and opt for a new leader after the budget that could provide an instant boost in the opinion polls of up to 5 or 6 per cent. The key question here is how much of the FF collapse associated with Cowen and his terrible problems of communication? If there is a ‘Cowen factor’ surely removing it in time will clear the decks somewhat and allow for an easier FF campaign with potentially 30-40 seats secured rather than the 12 or so projected here?

    We should also not discount FF candidates succesfully pitching themselves as local and not national politicians and completely discarding the FF label if necessary. Appeals based on past successes in securing funding and resources cannot be underestimated in an environment steeped in clientalist culture. In many of the constituencies where FF is predicted to end up without a seat these localist/clientalist associations will matter and may well deliver seats, which this poll is disregarding.

    Like others I cannot see Labour securing 3 seats in any constituency and in many parts of the country the local party organization is so stretched that even 2 seats seems hopelessly optimistic. Many candidates are relatively new to the electorate and may not have sufficient time to establish themselves substantively enough. Which triggers the question: will a ‘Gilmore’ factor produce the surge needed? Judging by Donegal SW, most definitely not, although the candidate there was especially poor. Similarly SF in Cavan-Monaghan: very unlikely they will get 2, let alone 3 seats.

    • Absolutely agreed with John O’Brennan. In Kilkenny it’s just as he says , where John McGuinness FF is so AWESOME now that even former enemies are voting for him!
      Likewise Bobby Aylward is a solid Party man though resembling Jackie Healy-Rae in style and approach , the only one who can mix it with McGuinness .
      On the other hand the Labour candidate is largely an unknown .
      Phil Hogan FG to be re-elected , joined by Senator John Paul Phelan ( the women swoon! )

      Then either MJ NOlan FF TD , Carlow, Mary White TD ( Green) that’s it .
      I can only see this poll of 13% working to any extent in Dublin , it’s a Dublin Thing , a Dublin Phenomenon.

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  16. Adrian,

    Your number crunching has Labour winning two seats in Dublin West, which is theoretically possible but only if Labour has two candidates in the field. The Labour Party Organisation Committee has decided that the Dublin West Selection Convention, due to be held this evening but postponed because of the weather, will select one GE candidate.Labour HQ could of course decide later on to impose a second candidate, but it seems unlikely.

    • If LP don’t run 2 candidates in Dublin West, they’re daft as a sack of puppies. I use a different methodology to Adrian but I’ve had them taking 2 seats here for some time now, and if they ran with one Burton would nearly have a double quota, and the only effect would be to save Lenihen’s seat.

      I presume if they are just seeking one nomination, it’s so they can add who they want to Bruton, rather than allow Nulty be selected.

      • It may be influenced by a number of factors: the return of Joe Higgins provides ‘left-wing’ competition to Labour of a kind that isn’t there in other constituencies; the likelihood of Burton and Nulty running against each other rather than as a team; the rise and rise of Leo Varadkar and, of course, Brian Lenihan’s strong personal following. Burton and Nulty’s names are before the Convention. It makes no sense to add-on Nulty after the event rather than let him through at Convention stage and an alternative ‘imposed candidate’, especially one who, like Burton, doesn’t even live in the constituency wouldn’t do much for unity within the local organisation.

  17. I would agree with most of the posters, FF win more than 13%,it has to be remembered, some constituencies would elect a donkey if it was wearing a FF rosette, their traditional support, tends to lie to pollsters, and on polling day, they will have difficulty voting for anyone else. SF will increase their seats, but only by about 5 giving them 9, 11 seats would be seen as a break through, their problem is, they are not transfer friendly.
    FG will win no more than 65,the reason for not making real head way is blatantly obvious, the worry for labour is lack of real policy, this could be their achilles heel. the greens will not get 3% except in their dreams maybe

    • wityh 16%, in one poll at least, saying they would vote SF then would it not appear the transfer is at the least normalised for SF,

      The thing with arguiug about SFs transfer problem is that it must be recognised that at some point that problem will abate. Considering the DSW vote, an apparent doubling in fpv then it would seem to be breaking down.

      Even if 16% is too high it seems fair to me to argue that there is a marked increase in positive sentiment towards SF.

      So has the transfer issue ben resolved – well proof in the pudding but I personally i think the evidence is hinting yes

      • 1 says: has a compelling argument, but it has to be remembered, SF will be strong in the working class areas, but, alas, getting the working class vote out is unbelievably difficult.

        the best voters are the over 55’s, middle class tend to vote also, youth 18-30, tend to talk a lot, but, when it comes to polling day, they will go to ground.

        If the evidence of the count centres are to be believed, a lot of the working class vote will be deemed spoilt, people have a tendency to write profanities over their ballot paper, others do not get the system of 1,2,3, instead stick an x on their preferred candidate.

      • Howard – just in case you’re not aware, simply marking X on your preferred candidate is considered a legitimate vote, as it offers an obvious statement of your intent to support any one candidate.

        Obviously it means that the voter has an inherent understanding of the process, but the vote is still a legitimate one and is counted as normal (the X is simply interpreted to stand as a figure 1).

    • Gav Reilly, yes i agree, if it was one x, try counting three, my poor writing skills did confuse the suggested comment, just as a matter of interest to all posters, i am a tally man, and as such, i have seen some horror stories, one looked like the dog chewed it up first.

      Also, the most accurate tallies are for Dublin South Central,the Chief tally man takes no crap from anyone,a strange quirk here is both FG and SF work well together for accurate tallies, FF and Labour had to be dragged kicking and screaming, into the system

      • I think more… a candidate stood in the County election and polled pretty well as it was the first time in many years.

        Remebering the town of Ballincollig pop. 17k? makes it no longer an exclusive rural constituency.

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  19. The system is quite simple really, FF will be fighting for the last seat in most constituencies, their own transfers will stay with other FF candidates, as much as i’d like to see them wiped out, it simply will not happen, their vote at 13% will return 25,but no fewer than 20.

    A rule of thumb, for every 1% of vote, FF will retain 1 seat,add in tranfers, roughly 30%, mostly same party transfers, then FF will have approximately 20-25 seats.

    Labour traditionally win a seat for every 0.75% of vote, gaining tranfers from everywhere, this will prove to be a big boost to them.

  20. I’d be very doubtful that a change of leader for FF after the budget would bring a boost of 5-6 per cent in the polls and on election day when it really counts. I reckon it’s more likely a FF factor than a Cowen factor that has FF where it is. The electorate is probably a bit more sophisticated than to fall for the old change of leader trick at this stage. Brian Lenihan’s star has clearly waned given the trauma that the bank guarantee has triggered over the last two years. Michael Martin has a battle to hold his seat in Cork south central with Michael McGrath strong in Carrigaline and clearly only one seat for FF there now and of course he’s been in cabinet seemingly forever as has Noel Dempsey who could well call it quits even before the elections. As for the other great white hope of FF Mary Hanafin; again one would have to think she’ll have trouble holding her seat in the new 4 seater Dun Laoighre. The big problem with the change of leader strategy is that all the alternative are tainted by the fact that they’ve been in cabinet during this crisis.

    I suggest FF skip a generation completely in going for a new leader and do what Labour and the Tories did in Britain. Barry Andrews anybody? Oh I forgot he’s going to lose his seat as well!

    • Gary, I don’t know Michael Martin’s current thinking, but his ambition to reach the top spot was declared very early on. The leadership is surely his for the taking in the immediate future. The question is: does he want it? And how foes the constituency battle he is facing enter his calculations? Surely though by virtue of the distance provided by being at DFA he has a modicum of ‘cover’ from full blown association with the key decisions. He is also hugely competent now as a communicator and that could count for a lot in an election context (his performances during Lisbon 2). I think we might much better have been able to test this hypothesis if Gordon Brown had stood down as Labour leader at the start of the year and handed over to David Miliband. The Cowen/Martin versus Brown/Miliband parallels suggest to me a ‘rescuing’ or ‘rebound’ effect in the order of 5 per cent for a new leader. And finally, it might well be Fine Gael that regrets its decision not to skip a generation. The latest poll shows them gaining only 50 per cent of what Labour have gained from recent events. So as well as a ‘Cowen factor’ we also have an ‘Inda’ factor (the Inda of Nob Nation lore) to contend with. Much (analysis) done. More to do.

  21. Perhaps I’m the only one concerned that an overweening majority would threaten our democracy. On the basis of your figures, Lab/FG would have 115 seats. That’s not a safe majority. It’s downright dangerous and must not happen. The same could be said of FF/FG/SF having 103 seats.

    Two combinations remain:
    Lab/SF and 10 independents would have 82 seats.
    FF/FG with 5 independents would have 84 seats.

    The Left coalition depends on the belief that SF are socialist. However, it is implausible that a party which broke from Official SF partly to avoid contamination by socialist ideas and then supported the IRA murder of more Irish people than any other combatant group in N.I. has “found” socialism. It is true that the “socialist split” happened decades ago in very different circumstances but many of SF’s present leaders were around then or soon after. SF are “positioning” themselves to the left of Labour. It is a measure of desperation that many socialists are falling for it. SF are unchallenged at the ballot box for the “traditional” extreme right, nationalist vote. Their hope is that clientilism in poor areas and populist guff disguised by the terminology of socialism will deliver sizeable numbers of the poor and naive socialists. A “left” coalition which included SF would destroy the credibility of Irish socialism. It would be crazy for Labour to be a part of that.

    That leaves a Right coalition with a tiny majority, facing an energetic and ambitious Labour opposition, challenged on its left by a handful of “fantasy” socialists, with SF pursuing who knows what?

    • Labour is Socialist?…… hmmm didn’t Gilmour say he wouldn’t go back on any of the tough measures brought in by FF that in reality will hit the worst off most?

      You can be assured that once FG & Lab get into bed with each other they’ll spend the next few years declaring it isn’t us it was F.F. and they’ll go with the flow.

      Another case of power at any cost.

      • I believe it was and always has been FF who seek election at all costs, regardless of the damage they wreak, look at their history.

        Good Government in Ireland is rare,but it has happened, the most recent being the rainbow coalition, some mistakes made, but to err is Human, when FF make the same mistakes,then,it ceases to be an error, but more likely to be policy.

  22. Maybe someone on here could clear this up for me…if the newly elected SF TD in Donegal were to lose his seat in January, would he still be in receipt of a dail pension of some kind??

  23. Are there people who actually believe Labour falls into the left wing/socialist grouping? Have I missed it but exactly what Labour policy is left wing, perhaps it is not as right wing as Fine Gael but left wing? I don’t think so. It hasn’t been left wing since Dick Spring became leader.

    Eamon Gilmore’s idea of socialism is that he will ‘only’ take a Taoiseach salary of €190k – down from €230 – hardly left wing. If Mr Gilmore and his ilk had any will do to do right by people he would cap the Taoiseach salary at €100k, after all what extra personal costs does a Taoiseach have and do we want someone motivated by money or by love of their country and a desire to serve it. Seems Mr Gilmore is like his wife and more motivated by money than the public good or doing what is right.

  24. For those who take the Red C poll seriously and buy into the FF meltdown hypothesis offered here, Paddy Power are offering a very tempting 6 to one about FF scoring 20 seats or under. Now are people brave enough to put their Euros where their predictions suggest it should go?

  25. I realise FF will try anything to hold onto power…that’s very clear.

    I must admit I nearly choked when reading Labour are socialist / left wing.

    They follow FG (FG ARE FF just a tad less dishonest)

    I’ve made my mind up ….. FF / FG will never get my vote again. Relying on history doesn’t cut it anymore.

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