Sunday 21 January 2018

Voters tire of wait for Lucinda's new party

Boost for major parties as support for SF and Independents falls - poll

Lucinda Creighton, pictured at the Reform Conference at the RDS in Dublin yesterday. Photo: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland
Lucinda Creighton, pictured at the Reform Conference at the RDS in Dublin yesterday. Photo: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Support for the creation of a new political party has fallen dramatically – down 11 points – since the country exited the bailout programme, the latest Sunday Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll reveals.

The departure of the Troika has also resulted in a decisive swing in favour of the Government parties, Fine Gael and Labour, and away from Sinn Fein and Independents.

Support for Fianna Fail has also increased, an indication that voters are moving back towards mainstream parties and away from the politics of protest as the country exits the Troika bailout.

The poll will come as a blow for the Reform Alliance, which held a 'Monster Rally' at Dublin's RDS yesterday.

While more than one-third (35 per cent) of those polled still support the formation of a new party, the number in favour is down by a considerable 11 per cent since November. Support is strongest outside Dublin and among less well-off voters.

When asked if the Reform Alliance should establish a new party, support was tepid at best. Thirty-seven per cent said no, 28 per cent said yes, 24 per cent didn't know and 11 per cent said it depended.

Those most opposed to the Reform Alliance forming a new party – most likely to be led by Lucinda Creighton – are Fine Gael supporters (52 per cent); AB, or better-off voters (51 per cent) and voters from Dublin (49 per cent).

Support for the formation of any new political party is lowest in Dublin.

The nationwide poll was conducted between January 15 and 24, at a time when a number of positive economic indicators were recorded, such as reduced unemployment, the Moody's upgrade of Ireland from junk to investment status and an improved residential property market.

That said, just one in seven (15 per cent) feel they will be better off post-bailout: 40 per cent say the exit will make no difference, 32 per cent feel they will be worse off and 14 per cent don't know.

There is no doubt FG and Labour will be most pleased with the poll, even if less than a quarter (23 per cent) are satisfied with the Government's performance. For the first time in these tracker polls, dissatisfaction (68 per cent) has dipped below 70 per cent.

Fianna Fail will also be encouraged as it has opened up a 10-point gap between itself and Sinn Fein and is now comfortably the second-biggest party in the country.

Excluding don't-knows, the state of the parties is: Fine Gael, 30 per cent (up three); Fianna Fail, 26 per cent (up two); Sinn Fein, 16 per cent (down five); Labour, 12 per cent, (up three); United Left Alliance, 1 per cent (no change) and Independents, 15 per cent (down three).

However, a massive 37 per cent still say they do not know which party to support.

The high level of undecideds is dominated by the 'Lost Generation' of 18-to-45-year-olds who have been worst hit by unemployment, mortgage arrears and negative equity – a cohort seen as the target market for any new party.

However, those opposed to the formation of a new party (40 per cent) are at the highest level since tracking on this issue began.

Taoiseach and FG leader Enda Kenny, on 28 per cent (up three), is the most popular leader, followed by FF's Micheal Martin on 25 per cent (down one); SF's Gerry Adams is on 19 per cent (down three); and Labour's Eamon Gilmore is unchanged at 16 per cent.

Almost a quarter (22 per cent) of Sinn Fein supporters are dissatisfied with Mr Adams' leadership, an issue which will come into sharper focus if Sinn Fein's support continues to slide.

There is a strong desire for a bank inquiry: two in three (67 per cent) say an inquiry should be an urgent priority.

There remains huge dissatisfaction with the banks.

A clear majority (65 per cent) say banks are not acting fairly towards distressed homeowners while 55 per cent support debt writedown if it helps people meet repayments and stay in their homes.

But there is little faith the in the banks' ability to meet further stress tests. Forty-one per cent feel further funding will be required; just 20 per cent take the opposite view.

The Reform Alliance image will not be helped as the loudest applause at its conference came when the group's opposition to last year's abortion legislation was raised.

Ms Creighton sought to play down the significance of such applause, saying that abortion "barely came up in discussions" during the day.

"The people admire us, even if they didn't agree with us on the abortion legislation. They admire us for the fact we honoured a commitment, we paid the price, we were expelled from our political party. I don't have a difficulty with people holding pro-life opinions, given I hold those opinions myself," she said.

She added that she was not worried that former colleagues in FG have been highly critical.

Daniel McConnell Political Correspondent

Irish Independent

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