Sunday 25 September 2016

Analysis: 'Worst performance by party topping poll in history, with another election looming'

Published 27/02/2016 | 12:21

First Preference Vote of the Top Party
First Preference Vote of the Top Party

RESULTS of the two exit polls and early indications from tallies around the country indicate that Fine Gael may limp to the lowest performance by a party topping the results in the history of the State.

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The last time there was such a poor showing by the party that topped the polls, the Irish electorate was back voting within months.

And one of Fine Gael's key election strategists has today confirmed that the prospect of another election in the near future is very high.

Read more: Election 2016 LIVE: Fine Gael and Labour in poll meltdown

With counting ongoing around the country - and no result as yet returned in any of the constituencies - analysis of the exit polls show Fine Gael on a mere 24.8pc, down from 36.1pc in 2011. Should this exit poll match the first preference results, this will represent the worst performance by the poll topping party in Ireland's history.

The general election in June of 1927 saw the establishment of the Fianna Fáil party and dropped the first preference vote of Cumann na nGaedheal (the seed of the Fine Gael party) from 39pc to 27.5pc It would seem that we are witnessing a similar seismic change in Irish politics. 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Tony Maxwell
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Tony Maxwell

The 1927 election resulted in a minority government led by William T. Cosgrave that lasted only a few short months before we were back to the voting booth all over again the same year.

Read more: Enda Kenny in crisis: Key advisor admits Fine Gael 'reaping whirlwind' of error-ridden campaign

The election mathematics are going to be complex but with the major parties not wanting to do business with Sinn Fein, who are on 16pc in the RTE exit poll and expecting somewhere in the order of 20 seats it may only be a historic coalition between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil that will prevent us from being back in the booths again in 2016.

Speaking to Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio 1 Mark Mortell, one of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's key strategists, accepted the possibility that Fianna Fail could be the largest party in terms of seats but said we would have to wait and see, citing Fine Gael's stronger exit poll showing in terms of transfers and emphasising that the true picture could take days to unfold.

"We could be less than 50 seats by the end of the day." Mortell said, stating that Fine Gael would be well shy of the their 30pc target based on exit polls.

When asked about the stability of a possible government, based on the current tallies, Mr Mortell said the prospect of another election soon was very high.

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