Lucky 13 can give FG a majority
The party remains coy but must be aiming for 80+ seats
KNOWING the voters' suspicion of single-party governments, Fine Gael strategists are staying away from predicting an overall majority in the 2011 general election.
But Enda Kenny's party knows that on 38pc in the latest opinion poll, entering government on its own has to be a legitimate target.
Getting 35pc of the national vote is certainly realistic and would put Fine Gael on 70 seats, at least.
But with the wind behind its back, the party will have to push on above 40pc to head for an historic overall majority, which has evaded Fianna Fail since 1977 and never been secured by Fine Gael.
Coming into the second-half of this general election, Fine Gael is best placed in terms of vote management and transfers to secure a major seat bonus.
Here's how Fine Gael can win an overall majority, if it all goes right:
- Hold what you have
Fine Gael starts out with 51 seats, so each of those will have to be retained.
But there are challenges in holding two seats in Cork South West, Roscommon-South Leitrim and Limerick City, while competition is also intense in Tipperary North.
- Pick off the easy wins
Fine Gael was left wondering how it failed to win a number of seats in 2007, but has focused on those areas and they will have to fall immediately to get the momentum going.
Among the seats coming immediately should be a second in Carlow-Kilkenny, Cork East, Cork North-West, Sligo-North Leitrim, Cavan-Monaghan and Longford-Westmeath. The party should win in places where it currently has no TD such as Dublin Central, Dublin Mid West and Kildare South.
- Real big wins
Before getting into overall majority territory, but hitting the high 30s in the national vote, the party has a number of big wins that would fall on a good day with a proper vote management strategy.
A staggering four out of five seats in Mayo, three out of five in Wicklow, Carlow-Kilkenny and Wexford, a second in Waterford and Dublin South East, two in Dublin Mid West and one in Dublin North West. Taking two out of three seats in both Meath East and Meath West would also be signs it's all going right.
And now Mr Kenny is on 70 seats, but still has a long way to go to get to 83 seats.
Fine Gael is by no means finished with seat wins. if the party can get the vote toward 40pc, then an overall majority is on the cards.
The seats the party would win with such a massive swing would include a comfortable third TD in the five seaters of Cork South Central and Cavan-Monaghan, a manageable third seat in the five seaters of Laois-Offaly, Dublin South and the four seater of Galway East, a tight second seat in the four seaters of Cork North Central, Louth, Kildare North and even Dun Laoghaire.
And if you see Fine Gael winning a third seat in Galway West and Clare, you'll know the party is above 40pc.
After that, it will come down to Fine Gael's heavy-hitters in Dublin pulling off some enormous results by bringing in weaker running mates on their surplus, such as Richard Bruton's Dublin North Central and James Reilly's Dublin North.
Taking a second seat in Leo Varadkar's Dublin West and Brian Hayes' Dublin South West along with second seats in Tipperary South and Dublin South Central would also be countenanced on a truly brilliant day.