Tuesday 10 December 2019

FG stars face fight to hold on to seats after latest poll


THE political careers of a number of high-profile Fine Gael TDs are in serious jeopardy after the surge in support for the Labour Party, as revealed by an unpublished nationwide opinion poll.

It is particularly the case in Dublin, where recent polling data reveals that the seats of Fine Gael heavy-hitters, such as Dr James Reilly, the deputy leader of the party, Leo Varadkar, Brian Hayes and Lucinda Creighton, are seriously threatened by Labour.

But what will come as a real shock to Fine Gael is the revelation that two of the figures most widely tipped to succeed Enda Kenny are now in trouble, according to the data, which has been seen by the Sunday Independent.

The revelations in the unpublished poll, which was conducted face to face with respondents in the constituencies, will increase the pressure on Enda Kenny to step down from the leadership of the party.

It is believed that if Mr Kenny does not go soon, the political careers of many of those who were smiling at their leader's obvious discomfiture last week will be ended by a disillusioned urban electorate who are now flocking in droves to Labour.

And the rot is so endemic that even in Dublin Central, where the party narrowly missed securing the seat of Tony Gregory in the 2009 by-election, the odds on the talented young Paschal Donohoe securing a seat are fading.

In a chilling reprise of the party's Via Dolorosa of 2002, polling figures suggest that even veteran TDs, such as Bernard Durkan in Kildare, are fighting for their political lives.

The latest data suggest that Labour has now secured the support of more than 50 per cent of the electorate in many Dublin constituencies and has genuine aspirations to win three seats in a number of five-seat constituencies.

Fine Gael, however, will now be worrying that any further increase in support for Labour will place the seats of other high-profile Fine Gael frontbenchers, such as Alan Shatter, Simon Coveney, Kieran O'Donnell and even the party's director of elections Phil Hogan, under serious pressure.

Significantly, the surge to Labour is not just an urban myth. The polling data reveal that the political phenomenon known as the 'Gilmore gale' is evolving into a national phenomenon.

Labour, it is believed, are now poised to make serious gains in Wicklow, Carlow Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford and a number of Munster constituencies.

Although Fianna Fail is in danger of losing up to 30 seats, the Labour surge is poised to inflict terminal damage upon their putative coalition partners,Fine Gael, which is in real peril of suffering a similar bloodbath to that of 2002.

Outside of Galway, Labour has established significant beach-heads in a number of other Connacht constituencies and any further surge to Gilmore would see Labour opening up a double-digit lead over FG and FF in national seat numbers.

The figures suggest that Labour needs to urgently revise its candidate-selection policy, which up until now was confined to running just over 60 candidates.

With the polls currently showing that the party is poised to win just under 60 seats, Labour may have to increase the number of candidates it will field to capitalise on the shaky state of both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

Both of the latter parties will be struggling to win more than 50 seats, according to the polling data. Should Labour continue to advance, it can harbour aspirations of governing without the support of either FF or FG.

But the Greens, who are now facing national political extinction, will not figure in those plans, as the polling data reveals that the Green vote has flatlined to such an extent that none of their deputies will win a seat at the next general election.

Sunday Independent

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