No faith in leadership, politics or banks: poll
Majority would support all-party government for duration of crisis
Published 14/02/2010 | 05:00
A large majority of the electorate believe there should be a national all-party government for the duration of the economic crisis, according to a Sunday Independent/ Millward Brown Lansdowne opinion poll.
The finding that 62 per cent want a national government is one of several in the nationwide poll, which highlights the intense frustration of people at the crippling effects of the crisis and the perceived inability of the current political system to deal with it.
In what amounts to a startling wake-up call to all politicians, a majority of declared supporters of each of the main parties believe such a government is now necessary.
When the headline finding is broken down, it reveals that supporters of Fianna Fail (66 per cent), Fine Gael (56 per cent), Labour (64 per cent), Greens (50 per cent) and Sinn Fein (64 per cent) want a national all-party government.
The body politic last week convulsed itself with the resignations of Fine Gael TD George Lee, and the relatively unknown Deirdre de Burca as a Green Party senator.
But our opinion poll clearly shows that such events had little or no impact on the lives of ordinary people who are continuing to struggle to cope as the economic crisis enters into a third year.
In fact, the poll starkly illustrates that events last week only served to heighten the distrust of the electorate towards the establishment as represented by politicians and the financial institutions.
A massive 58 per cent are "not at all satisfied", and 21 per cent are "not very satisfied" with the way in which the Government is handling the banking crisis; just 12 per cent have expressed any form of satisfaction.
An overwhelming 91 per cent want criminal prosecutions pursued against those in the banking sector found to have been in breach of the law, precisely the same finding as a year ago when the same question was asked in the last such poll.
The public is obviously dissatisfied that no such action has been taken against bankers in that year, despite the instigation of a number of investigations by various authorities.
It is this sense of drift in the midst of the economic crisis which is exercising the electorate, who seem to be critical of the length of time it is taking not to resolve anything.
The deep level of frustration among the public is also evident in other findings in our poll, to the extent that scepticism, if not downright cynicism, seems to be now embedded in the minds of the electorate.
A majority 54 per cent do not believe that the setting up of Nama will free up lending from the banks to businesses and the general public; only 23 per cent believe it will; and 23 per cent say they do not know.
Asked what they thought should be done with the banks, a significant minority, 38 per cent, said they should be left to fend for themselves even if that meant some did not survive -- a measure which all of the political parties have set themselves against; 27 per cent felt they should be fully nationalised and 26 per cent, or only a quarter of those polled, said they should be given continuous Government financial support, but not nationalised.
In the Sunday Independent today, Roger Jupp, chairman of Millward Brown Lansdowne, has interpreted the results of the opinion poll as an indictment of the body politic and the establishment in general.
He writes: "The results from this week's national opinion poll reveal a deeply troubled electorate, whose fundamental attitudes have been quite consistent over a year of economic turmoil.
"The underlying mood of the nation has not been hugely ruffled by the flying feathers of George Lee and its effect on Enda Kenny. It remains in a very wary and distrustful state, aching for change -- any change, as long as it is for the better.
"We know from recent research that the Irish people have never been as unhappy about authority, in its many guises. We express a lower level of trust in government in general, politicians and businesses, especially financial institutions, than virtually any other country in Europe.
"We are fed up with the barrage of negativity and simply wish that the heavy hand of financial pressure would loosen its grip on us."
On the issue of the week which so concerned the body politic, the country has emerged split over whether George Lee was right to resign at the time he did: 45 per cent said he was right, 43 per cent said he was not and 13 per cent did not know or had no opinion. Mr Lee will be relieved by the finding that a comfortable majority think he should be allowed to return to work in RTE: 58 per cent said he should, 31 per cent said he should not and 11 per cent said they did not know or had no opinion.
An even more comfortable majority (62 per cent) felt Mr Lee should not set up his own political party, but, interestingly, a not insignificant 27 per cent felt he should, while 11 per cent did not know or had no opinion.
The finding that more than a quarter of the electorate felt Mr Lee should set up his own party is another indication of the level of dissatisfaction at the current political system and the desire for change which probably propelled Mr Lee into the Dail as a Fine Gael TD eight months ago.
In the aftermath of the George Lee controversy, it has emerged in the poll that almost half the electorate (49 per cent) do not believe that Enda Kenny will lead Fine Gael at the next General Election; 38 per cent believe he will and 13 per cent do not know or have no opinion.
Only a slim majority of Fine Gael supporters (53 per cent) believe Mr Kenny will lead the party at the election.
Fine Gael's finance spokesman, Richard Bruton, is easily the preferred successor of Mr Kenny: 54 per cent of those polled opted for Mr Bruton, his closest rival being being Simon Coveney on eight per cent.