Friday, 13 February 2009

Labour overtakes Fianna Fáil in latest Irish Times/ TNS mrbi Poll, Pushing Brian Cowen's party into third place

The Labour Party in the south has leapt 10 points in the latest opinion poll published by the Irish Times/ TNS mrbi, taking it to 24%. Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil support has slumped by five percentage points to 22%, pushing it into third place for the first time since polling began. Fine Gael maintains its poll lead at 32%, although this reflects a two-point drop.

According to Stephen Collins in the Irish Times:

The Labour Party has passed out Fianna Fáil for the first time since polling began, according to the latest Irish Times/TNS mrbi poll, which reveals that support for the main Government party has almost halved since the last election.

Fianna Fáil has now slumped into third place behind Fine Gael and the Labour Party in the wake of its plan to make savings of €2 billion this year, through a public service pensions levy and a range of cost-cutting measures.

The poll also shows that a substantial majority of voters would now like to see a change of Government with 62 per cent favouring a change and 28 per cent opposed to it.

The Government’s satisfaction rating has dropped to 14 per cent with 82 per cent now expressing dissatisfaction with its performance. This is a record low since polling began, with supporters of all parties, including Fianna Fail and Green voters, now strongly dissatisfied with the coalition’s performance.

The adjusted figures for party support, compared with the last Irish Times poll in November are: Fianna Fáil, 22 per cent (down 5 points); Fine Gael, 32 per cent (down 2 points); Labour, 24 per cent (up 10 point); Sinn Féin, 8 per cent (up 1 point); Green Party, 4 per cent (no change); and Independents/others, 9 per cent (down 4 points).

The poll was conducted last Monday and Tuesday among a representative sample of 1,000 voters in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all 43 constituencies before the political controversy about the Government’s plan to recapitalise the banks and the latest developments in Anglo Irish Bank. The margin of error is 3 per cent.

The news harks back to the Spring Tide of the early 1990s when Labour captured 33 Dáil seats and hoped to position themselves to become the Republic's second party. In the event, they failed to maintain the momentum as the decade progressed.

Regardless of one's position on southern politics, it's hard to deny that Labour has played somewhat of a blinder as the southern economy has unravelled. Yesterday I was following developments on Twitter as Labour tweeted live as two of their TDs were suspended from the Dáil- it was fascinating stuff.

However, as with the Tories' lead in the UK, which I blogged about earlier in the week, maintaining poll leads through general elections is an entirely different matter.

The fact that Labour is practically non-existent on the ground in large parts of the state would present problems in maintaining the strength of this latest poll showing. Nonetheless, Eamon Gilmore and his followers will be delighted at these figures.


Donnacha Maguire said...

Any one who reads into these poll figures as anything other than a snap shot in time are fools.

Ill be honest, as a FF member, it galls me to have FG ahead of us let alone Labour. The government, but primarily FF are taking decisions which are deeply unpopular but which MUST be taken. The alternative is the destruction of the economy. There is no alternative. We could go and borrow the hell out of it and try and keep people happy but we are not.

We are putting the country first.

eddiepops said...

While I congratulate Labour on the result, and take a certain amount of glee in FF's score, I can't agree that Labour have played a blinder, not at all. At every opportunity they've gone for the populist, irresponsible and unconstructive route to popularity. I've always given them my second preference before now, but their behaviour over the last year means my ballot will probably be blank after the first preference :(

Gary McKeown said...

Eddie, out of interest, what route do you think Labour should have taken compared with the course they did? Regardless of everything else, their performance has led to a 10-point leap in the polls. From their position, I'm guessing they'd call that a blinder. That's not making any comment on the actual content of what they've said or how it would play out were they in government- it's purely an observation based on the fact that their performance has seen a massive leap in their popularity.

Donnacha, do you think there is anything that the government could do differently? I'm thinking in terms, perhaps, of how they explain their choices- if the route they're taking is unavoidable, as you say, do they need to work more on conveying that message to the people?

Anonymous said...

It may be a blip in the polls in favour of Labour to register the disgust of the electorate at the handling of the economy by FF - how can anyone, Donnacha, think that FF are acting to stop the distruction of the ROI economy I think they have already achieved distruction by their incompetence - no other party could have made such a mess