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Leo lifted as people rally round the flag

Kevin Cunningham


International crises are often good news for governments struggling in the polls

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Fine Gael has benefited from an enormous coronabounce that has the potential to reshape Irish politics. The party is 15pc higher than it was at the time of the General Election and 20pc ahead of Fianna Fail. It is a dynamic that influences who has the power to walk away from Government. To understand how this has happened and how long this might last, we should understand what John Mueller in 1970 called the "rally-round-the-flag" effect.

This phenomenon is when a government benefits from an extraordinary poll increase in response to a major international crisis. One of the biggest on record was Margaret Thatcher's surge following the invasion of the Falklands in 1982 - features of which are strikingly similar to Irish politics today.


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