Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Irish polls axe parties of government

While the Times today reports that the Scottish Greens could double their representation in May (although I think we can do better) life looks rather different to the West. The Irish Independent has published a rather comprehensive poll of voter intentions and it makes for fascinating reading.

This pie chart can give you some context in which to read the rest of the data. Yes, that is a lot of red. It essentially represents the colour of the voters' faces when they think about their government.

I should point out that you don't have to go back that far to see voter satisfaction in their government was over fifty percent (p. 11) - in other words the Irish aren't just people who hate the government historically, they hate this specific government. Well, all but 5% of them who are presumably the sort of people who are naturally cheerful and even if set on fire would remark at how toasty warm things had become.

So who is benefiting from this anti-government Tsunami? A party that's almost identical to the current government. Hard to imagine that isn't it?

But first for the caveat - this bar graph compares the actual result of the 2007 election with the polling figures (excluding don't knows) this January. They aren't going to be 100% accurate but the polling just before the last election was pretty accurate so let's not pretend they're meaningless either.

Who are the losers? Well, the only two parties to lose support, and lose it badly are the two parties of government (there was a third but it has ceased trading). Fianna Fail and the Greens are bracing themselves for the inevitably of being electorally washed out to sea. For Fianna Fail it means a generation in the wildness, for the Greens it probably means the end of the organisation permanently. I did say this was a likely outcome at the time but no one listens to me, hurumph.

If 'the others' do get 15% it could lead to an extremely interesting Dail. People like socialist Richard Boyd Barrett came very close to winning a seat in 2007 and this surge in the 'others' could well see him and others like him win an intimidating handful of seats. This would be a very welcome outcome as far as I'm concerned.

However, for those parties that are gaining support like Labour and Sinn Fein the future is not entirely rosy. The report (p. 17 and p. 19) also shows that the 'satisfaction' rates for Labour have not been lower for ten years despite the fact that Labour leader Eamon Gilmore is well respected. Also more people are dissatisfied with Sinn Fein and less satisfied with it since polling began on this. Indeed, in terms of the polls both parties are actually losing momentum and slipping back as voters begin to gravitate to Fine Gael, of all people.

It's also difficult to see the Sinn Fein vote as a shift to the left when (p. 26) Sinn Fein voters are the most likely to want to see compulsory redundancies as "part of public sector reform". That's more likely than Fine Gael or Fianna Fail - blimey.

Finally I just want a quick look at where the party votes are going.
As you might expect those who voted Green last time are the least likely to vote the same way in this election with just 13% of those who voted Green last time intending to do so again - the masochists. Most of those voters will be splitting their votes between Labour and Fine Gael, although they are also the people most likely to defect to Sinn Fein.

Fine Gael's voters are the most sticky and, if they are going to defect, will defect to Labour. The same is true of Sinn Fein as it happens.

Both Labour and Sinn Fein (and the hard left) will be hoping this is a game changing election for them. Indeed if you can't make a great leap forwards at a time when the government has disapproval ratings of 95% (which is probably worse than for Mubarak) you're doing something wrong - like being part of a ridiculous coalition.


Cathryn said...

It looks like the Irish are in a similar situation to ourselves at the last election, only worse - no credible party to govern, so noone really wins, and noone has a mandate.

I wonder where this general disdain for governments will lead us?

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liam said...

maybe people in ireland should not go and vote to show our protest with all of the useless party ideas on who should fix the problems here....stay at home....