Credit: Gript

Mary-Woo! New Poll gives Sinn Fein five point lead

Alright, hands up. “Mary-Woo!” is the single worst joke you’ll see on Gript this year, and hopefully, there won’t be one as bad again for a long, long, time.

Still, there were plenty of reasons for people to be cheering in Sinn Fein headquarters yesterday. The party has moved into a clear national lead, at least according to Behaviour and Attitudes:

Fianna Fail has reduced Fine Gael’s poll lead by seven points, but Sinn Fein has moved significantly ahead of the government parties and is up two points to 32% — five points clear of Fine Gael.

Fianna Fail is up three points to 22% compared with the last B&A poll in October, while Fine Gael drops four to 27%.

Varadkar’s satisfaction rating has dropped by 10 points to 50%, leaving him level with McDonald, whose personal rating is unchanged.

The huge unanswered question in Irish politics today is whether the present coalition Government between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael represents, in the words of Albert Reynolds, a “temporary little arrangement”, or whether it represents the beginnings of a permanent political alliance between the two old enemies.

In many ways, that’s the only question that matters. In this poll, for example, the bulk of the movement is not a swing of support from Government to opposition, but a swing in support from Fine Gael to Fianna Fáil. Collectively, the Government parties, if you include the hapless Greens, have 52%. All of the opposition parties, and independents, combined, can muster only 48%.

The problem for Sinn Fein is that out of that 48%, they’re not even assured the support of all the components of the opposition that they’d need to secure a Dáil majority. Independents, for example, claim 7%, and most of the elected independents who you’d favour to hold their seats are much more likely to gravitate to FF or FG than they are to Mary-Lou.

In other words, if an election were held tomorrow, Sinn Fein are likely to remain powerless to form a Government for as long as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are content to stick together and keep them out.

The answer to that question probably won’t become apparent until Fianna Fáil has a new leader, which will likely happen shortly after Mr. Martin hands the Taoiseach’s office back over to Fine Gael. There’s another question, though, which is likely to be answered before then – whether there’s an effective ceiling on Sinn Fein support.

In many ways, that’s a much less important question. Sinn Fein doesn’t need much more than its current level of support if it aspires to lead a Government. What it does need, however, is for the smaller left-wing parties to become less-small left wing parties. A direct swing from the Government to Sinn Fein would be ideal for the party, but a swing from the Government to Labour and the Social Democrats is almost as good, for the purposes of forming a left-led Government. The polls would look a lot different if there was a Labour Party on ten or fifteen per cent, for example.

But what if the cap isn’t on Sinn Fein support, but on support for the left at large? In other words, what if the reason that Labour and the Soc Dems are failing to break through is that Sinn Fein has already cannibalised their votes?

One of the stories of the last few years in Irish politics has been the complete failure of the soft-left to win any meaningful level of support from the public. Three parties – Labour, the Soc Dems, and the Greens, seem to be competing for the same 15% of the electorate, with whichever one of the three ends up in Government suffering losses to the other two. But support for the three parties collectively – bearing in mind that they all share a virtually identical policy platform – has remained stagnant.

What’s more, it’s arguable that they have much more to lose from being second and third wheels in a Sinn Fein government than they have to gain. For better or worse, they can achieve identifiable policy wins in coalition with FF and FG. With Sinn Fein, almost every policy idea they have is likely to be implemented whether they’re part of the Government or not. They risk becoming little more than lobby fodder, while SF calls the shots.

If Sinn Fein wants to achieve power, then, it probably needs to grow its support substantially beyond even the five point lead, and third of the vote, that it presently has.

The good news for the party is that it will likely get many opportunities to do just that, in the coming years, as the cost of the covid recession, and the “hard decisions” that will have to be taken to pay for it, come into view. The bad news for them is that up until now, at least, there remains no evidence that a majority of the voters are inclined to vote in such a way as to guarantee a Sinn Fein government.

Share mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer mdi-chevron-left Prev Next mdi-chevron-right Related
Comments are open

The biggest problem Ireland faces right now is:

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...