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Home to vote sentiment ready to convert into 'vote for a home'

Fionnán Sheahan


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stock photo

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A general election not to lose is turning into the election everyone is trying their best to throw away. Whoever takes power in the 33rd Dáil will take on a healthy economy, buoyant Exchequer returns, low unemployment and positive job creation prospects into the future.

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Not since the 1997 General Election have the economic conditions been so favourable for an incoming government, bringing the opportunity to deliver returns fast.

The pent-up demand for some chink of light on health and housing has boiled over.

Saturday polling will play a role and ought to ensure a high turnout of young voters. The home to vote sentiment of the same-sex marriage and repeal the Eighth campaign is now poised to convert into vote for a home.

A failing society is overshadowing the successful economy, so the tide has gone out on Fine Gael after nine years in office.

Fianna Fáil's failure to reflect a changed approach in personality or policy has seen it not rewarded either.

Sinn Féin has come to embody the mood for change. Before the revisionism kicks in, Mary Lou McDonald's party didn't see this coming either. Just over two weeks ago, Sinn Féin was still taking candidates off tickets as it was on the defensive. Spooked by the arrival of Independent Marian Harkin onto the pitch and worried about losing its seat, the party nationally gave Leitrim-based TD Martin Kenny a clear run and dropped Sligo-based Chris MacManus "as the best way to ensure that we continue to represent the people of Sligo-Leitrim in the next Dáil".

That was January 17 - now a world away.

Candidate line-ups pared back in Dublin following the local and European elections drubbings were left to the bare minimum. Former MEP Lynn Boylan, who should be a candidate but isn't, would sail into a seat in any one of a half dozen places in Dublin - even in southside constituencies.

Over the weekend, strategists in all three parties who spoke to the Irish Independent remained pragmatic.

Allowing for traditional overstatement of its vote in opinion polls, Sinn Féin still has to be looking at being above 20pc. In other words, for every two voters at the last general election, it will have three this time. A lack of candidates will put a lid on possible gains though. Anything above 30 seats would mean candidates never heard of at all being elected on the Sinn Féin brand alone.

From its own private polling, Fine Gael is convinced the Sinn Féin rise is real but doesn't believe its own fall will be as bad as the 2002 wipeout. A really bad day would be 33 seats and, at this stage, a reasonable outcome would be anywhere near 40.

Fianna Fáil still casts a doubt over the Sinn Féin rise and believes it will still be in the hunt to pick up final seats in a win some, lose some scenario. Being above 53 would be a great day and above 48 still acceptable.

The rule is simple though: if you don't get the votes nationally, you don't win the seats locally. Nobody is safe if their party flops and anybody can be elected if the party soars.

Irish Independent