Sunday 22 September 2019

Michael D backed for second term by half of voters

Senator set to force an election with support for nomination

President Michael D Higgins
President Michael D Higgins
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Almost half of voters do not want a presidential election this year and would prefer to give President Michael D Higgins an unopposed second term in office.

The latest Sunday Independent/Kantar Millward Brown opinion poll found 48pc of people want the President to remain in office for another seven years after his tenure ends.

However, two in five (38pc) said they would like to see a vote held once the President's term in office ends later this year. The poll shows 8pc don't know if an election should be held and 6pc said "it depends".

The news comes as presidential candidate Senator Gerard Craughwell this weekend said he has secured the nomination of 20 TDs and senators needed to put his name forward to run in an election. The 20 nominations could see Mr Craughwell force a presidential election.

Mr Craughwell said the majority of those who supported his candidacy came from the Independent benches, although his campaign was also supported by politicians in the main political parties.

The former president of the Teachers Union of Ireland called on Mr Higgins to end the speculation over his future intentions and declare if he will seek another term or not.

"President Higgins should clearly set out his intentions to avoid the frustration caused to him in 2004 when President Mary McAleese delayed declaring her position on a second term, denying him the opportunity to run," Mr Craughwell told the Sunday Independent.

Today's opinion poll shows more Fine Gael (49pc) and Fianna Fail (49pc) voters would prefer to see Mr Higgins serve a second term compared with 41pc in both parties who would like to have an election.

Sinn Fein voters are more evenly split with 44pc calling for an election and 45pc backing the President to stay for another term.

Interestingly, half (50pc) of all Labour Party voters would like to see a presidential election held this year, while a little less than two in four (38pc) said Mr Higgins should be allowed stay in office for an additional seven years.

The President was a member of the Labour Party for more than four decades before he ran for the presidency.

Voters in Munster (54pc) and Connacht/Ulster (51pc) were more in favour of the president being given a second term than those polled in Dublin (45pc) and the rest of Leinster (34pc).

The main political parties are waiting for Mr Higgins to outline his intentions before starting to select a candidate.

Last week, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was her belief that a presidential election should take place.

Fianna Fail has not formally discussed putting forward a candidate. However, two senators, Mark Daly and Keith Swanick, have declared an interest in running.

Long-serving Fianna Fail TD and former minister Eamon O Cuiv has also said he would be interested in running, but would not run if Mr Higgins wanted a second term.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he supports the President serving a second term.

Two Fine Gael MEPs, Mairead McGuinness and Sean Kelly, said they would like to run for the presidency should Mr Higgins step down.

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section