Friday 20 April 2018

Kenny to be next Taoiseach as FG majority in sight

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny joking with constituency colleague Michael Ring at the launch of the party's manifesto yesterday
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny joking with constituency colleague Michael Ring at the launch of the party's manifesto yesterday

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny is certain to become the next Taoiseach -- and he may even lead a single party government, according to today's Irish Independent/Millward Brown Lansdowne opinion poll.

Mr Kenny is within touching distance of leading the next government without the Labour Party -- either with an overall majority or with the support of Independents.

Mr Kenny's own satisfaction rating is also on the rise, with 30pc now happy with his performance, up three points over the past fortnight.

While his rating is the same as Michael Noonan's was before the 2002 general election meltdown, Mr Kenny was not damaged by his refusal to participate in the first of the TV leaders' debates.

Fine Gael is on course to win up to 78 seats, with the possibility of hitting the 80-plus mark.

During the campaign, the party has prominently featured heavy-hitters Michael Noonan, Richard Bruton, Phil Hogan, Leo Varadkar and James Reilly.

Their image of solidity backs up Mr Kenny's claim he leads a competent team, rather than pitching the entire campaign behind the leader, as Labour and Fianna Fail have done.

Mr Kenny's satisfaction rating is now at its highest level since the 2007 General Election, although still well below the 47pc he hit in the run up to that campaign.

Fine Gael has been cautious to avoid predicting it will achieve an overall majority.

The party is aware of voter nervousness about single party government. But given the momentum behind Fine Gael, it may progress further in the closing week of the campaign.

The poll was taken before Mr Kenny's appearance in Tuesday night's leaders' debate where he was seen to acquit himself well and his opponents failed to land any punches on him.

Fine Gael has been consistent in its approach to rolling out policies and general messages.

Its manifesto is largely a reworking of existing policies, reflecting the stable message the party is portraying, which now appears to be paying off.

Mr Kenny said maximising job creation, economic growth and the modernisation of the public service were key planks.

The party has also vowed to stamp out white-collar crime and to bring rogue bankers to justice.

Irish Independent

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