Crying out for a new departure in political mess
Country in 'desperate need of new leadership'
DESPAIRING of the Government and uninspired by the Opposition, the Irish people are crying out for a new departure to lead them out of our economic mess, according to the results of our latest national opinion poll.
Some 55 per cent would like to see a national government, but if the answer was a brand new political party, 54 per cent would back that. And the most popular choice (35 per cent) to lead that new departure is the present Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan, with the current leader of the opposition, Enda Kenny, (16 per cent) second choice, and the former Taoiseach, John Bruton (12 per cent) coming third.
Many of those polled suggested they might have plumped for Eamon Gilmore, the Labour leader, if he had been included in the list of options and also mentioned was Richard Bruton. The other options we offered were Brian Cowen (11 per cent), Ivan Yates (nine per cent), Mary Hanafin (six per cent), Michael McDowell (four per cent), Leo Varadker and Charlie McCreevy (three per cent) and Ray MacSharry (one per cent).
But when asked if Eamon Gilmore and the Labour Party would tackle the cost of the public sector if they were in government, 59 per cent said "No". And 61 per cent said they did not believe the policies of Fine Gael and Labour were compatible.
This may help to explain the consistent disparity between the popularity of the two main opposition leaders and that of their respective parties.
Either leader would seem to be acceptable as potential members of a national government or even to lead a new party, but the public have difficulty in seeing Fine Gael and Labour as an alternative government.
The majority in favour of a national government has dropped 18 percentage points since we last asked the question in February last year (73 per cent).
Those still favouring a national government felt that something radical had to be attempted in order to extricate us from the terrible situation we have found ourselves in.
There was widespread anger with the current administration and their mismanagement of the economy, but people were not confident that the opposition would have the answers to our problems either.
This lack of belief in individual parties convinced many respondents that a broad cross party coalition might be the way forward.
Many of those who were against the idea of a national government felt that, given the partisan nature of Irish politics, it would be next to impossible for an all-party government to reach a consensus on a programme for government. Many respondents expressed an increasing sense of desperation and fatalism with regards to the future, believing that our political class was incapable of leading us out of this recession.
One woman said she favoured a national government "but only because in desperate times you sometimes need desperate measures".
Another said: "We have to put aside all differences and work together to get through this. The country is in desperate need of strong leadership." But a man who opposed the idea said: "An all-party government would lead to nothing but disagreements over policy. There would be petty disputes over every decision."
And another said: "No self-respecting member of the opposition could go into a government with any members of Fianna Fail; they are the ones responsible for this disaster."
Analysis, Page 28