Coalition faces loss of 50 seats in latest poll dip
LABOUR faces the loss of nearly two-thirds of its TDs if the latest opinion poll is replicated at the next general election.
The party is down by two points to 11pc, with Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and Independents making gains from disillusioned coalition voters. And Fine Gael is down by 1pc to 24pc.
According to an analysis by NUI Maynooth geography lecturer Dr Adrian Kavanagh, Labour would be left with just 14 seats at the next general election if the results are repeated at the polls – and 24 of its current 38 TDs would lose their seats. And Fine Gael would also lose out heavily, with just 45 of its 75 current TDs holding onto their seats.
A Labour spokesman said the people had put the party into Government to sort out the economy.
"We are in the process of doing that, and there are some positive signs. We'll stand on our record at the next general election," he said.
Dr Kavanagh's calculations are based on the latest 'Sunday Independent'/Millward Brown opinion poll of almost 1,000 adults. They take account of the fact that the number of seats in the next Dail will be reduced from 166 to 158.
But on the current figures, Fine Gael and Labour would be unable to form a Government at the next election with 59 seats. Dr Kavanagh said Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein would fare "significantly better" with 74 seats. But they would have to get at least five Independents on board to give them a bare majority of 79 seats.
But he said that a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition would have 88 seats and a "relatively comfortable" Dail majority of 18 seats over the Opposition's 70 seats.
Speaking in Mayo, Taoiseach Enda Kenny maintained the Government had made "significant progress" during its first two years in office in dealing with the country's problems from bank guarantees to promissory notes and interest rates. He promised to turn the focus onto helping businesses create jobs.
"I'm not happy at all at the level of high unemployment that we have and that's unashamedly where the Government's focus will now be, on small and medium-sized enterprises, on accessing credit, on getting people off the Live Register and into the world of work," he said.
The Sunday Independent poll showed 28pc of people surveyed fell into the 'don't know' category – which shows that many are not satisfied by either the coalition parties or the opposition. It found that Fianna Fail's recent revival has suffered a slight setback, with the party dropping by four points to 23pc.
Fianna Fail jobs spokesman Dara Calleary said polls would come and go like the tide.
"I think the major difficulty for Labour and Fine Gael is the amount of broken promises," he told RTE's 'Week in Politics'.
Independents and the Socialist Party headed by Joe Higgins are up by five points to 19pc. Sinn Fein increased its support by one point to 21pc, with its finance spokesman Pearse Doherty saying it was getting its message across.
The growing unpopularity of the Government will not be helped by the arrival of Revenue letters in household letterboxes this month containing an estimate of their property tax bill. Education Minister Ruairi Quinn referred to this yesterday when he said that a lot of people were hurting.
"These are very difficult times and they are still a bit fearful of what is going to be the impact of a property tax and water charges," he said.