Thursday 18 January 2018

Voters turning their backs on Fine Gael

WINNERS AND LOSERS: Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin with Michael McGrath, the party’s finance spokesperson
WINNERS AND LOSERS: Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin with Michael McGrath, the party’s finance spokesperson
SEVERE BLOW: Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Frank McGrath
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Fine Gael's hopes of returning to Government after the next general election have suffered a severe blow as voters turn their back on the party in droves, according to the latest Sunday Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's party has dropped a massive five points to 24pc and is now just a single percentage point ahead of its main political rival Fianna Fail, which remains unchanged at 23pc.

This is the closest the parties have been in this opinion poll in almost two years and follows the latest Irish Water fiasco and the controversy surrounding the Government's Banking Inquiry.

More worrying for Mr Kenny is that Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin continues to be the most popular party leader among voters - he is seven points ahead of the Taoiseach on 32pc.

Fine Gael's coalition partner, the Labour Party, is up a point to 7pc, but the parties' combined votes would be far from enough to form a Government after the next general election. Sinn Fein remains unchanged at 21pc as the party's shock increase in support in the face of child sex abuse controversies seems to have stalled.

Meanwhile, the Independent/Others vote shows no signs of abating - up four points to 24pc - as voters continue to desert the establishment parties in search of a new form of politics.

A breakdown of the independent/others vote shows Joe Higgins' Socialist Party on 2pc and Richard Boyd Barrett's People Before Profit on 1pc. Lucinda Creighton's Renua has 1pc of the Independent vote and the newly-formed Social Democrats 0.5pc.

Mr Martin is the country's favourite political leader, followed by Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams, who remains on 30pc despite continuing questions surrounding his handling of child sex abuse allegations.

Tanaiste Joan Burton's satisfaction rating is down six points to 20pc, while Renua leader Ms Creighton dropped five points to 16pc.

The survey - taken between July 19 and 30 - came as the Government faced into yet another embarrassing Irish Water fiasco after it failed the crucial Eurostat test, which means the cost of the embattled utility company will remain on the State's balance sheet.

It also covered the period when the Taoiseach and Government were accused of using the taxpayer-funded Banking Inquiry as a political show trial.

Satisfaction with the Government dropped four points to 25pc and almost half of voters believe that the Coalition will not win a second term in office, according to the poll.

Fine Gael is still the most toxic party, with almost two in five saying they would not vote for the party in the next election. Labour and Fianna Fail have also seen a rise in the number of voters saying they would not vote for them.

But negativity towards left-wing parties has softened.

Renua has also seen a drop in the number of voters saying they would not vote for it.

Sunday Independent

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