Friday 23 March 2018

Public looking for new blood, not great leaders

Enda Kenny's star has risen while Eamon Gilmore's seems to have faded, but this election is really about the next generation of TDs, writes Richard Waring

IN the past few weeks we have had a menage-a-trois, in both English and Gaeilge, as well as a five-way leaders' debate. But if we look at the UK, for the most part, these debates seem to have little impact on the public's attitude towards each party or their respective performances. So why have them? You may be forgiven for even asking why have a leader at all?

Much has been commented about Enda Kenny's poor personal ratings which, despite the woes of the governing Fianna Fail and its former leader Brian Cowen, have failed to improve substantially. Nonetheless, as we enter the final dash of this 100-metre race, Fine Gael is clearly getting the much-sought- after momentum which will very likely see it swept into power. Conversely, Eamon Gilmore's personal rating has been comparatively strong through last year's turbulent IMF period, but Labour's political 'Mo' appears now to be waning. With Enda's recent TV performances getting warmly critiqued by the media, his personal rating has improved markedly in this latest poll (up from 30 per cent to 41 per cent) and especially among party supporters where nearly three in four (71 per cent) now approve of him.

So has Enda's personal rating been behind Fine Gael's recent first preferences strengthening to 37 per cent? Looking at Eamon Gilmore and Labour you would have to say not necessarily. Eamon's personal rating continues to be the strongest of all leaders but support for his party appears to have lost momentum, slipping back to 20 per cent -- a far cry from last September's 35 per cent.

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