Tuesday 20 February 2018

New centre-right party will undoubtedly emerge soon

Today's poll shows there is deep unease at the choices open to voters, writes Michael McDowell

The old cliche that "there is only one poll that matters" is not really true. This paper's poll is important. It is the first in-depth, comprehensive survey of voting intentions and political attitudes in the 2011 General Election campaign. It takes into account recent developments -- including the cabinet meltdown, the FF leadership contest, the Greens' exit from Government, and Gerry Adams's early woeful broadcasting performances as party leader.

This poll shows early evidence that the election will almost certainly produce an FG-Labour coalition with a large Dail majority. It also reflects a certain absence of enthusiasm for that result with a slight majority believing that FG and Labour are incompatible coalition partners. The signs are, nonetheless, that between them they will have between 95 and 105 seats. Their relative strength at the cabinet table will be decided by results in about 15 or 20 marginal constituencies, which in turn may hinge on the lower preferences of supporters of other parties and independents.

But it is important to look behind the national figures. In Dublin, the outgoing government parties are facing an electoral calamity. At 9 per cent in the capital, FF will be lucky to win a handful of Dublin seats. If they receive 15 per cent support nationally on election day, they might be lucky to reach a Dail strength of 30 TDs, mainly rural. This poll shows clearly where their 2007 vote has gone to.

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