Government formation and that Red C poll. December 4, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, The Left.
Interesting, interesting. Adrian Kavanagh proposes that using his methodology the latest RedC poll would throw up the following result in the next Dáil – as noted in the previous post put up this afternoon.
Fine Gael 53, Labour 21, Fianna Fail 36, Sinn Fein 24, Green Party 1, United Left Alliance 4, Independents and Others 19.
Usual caveats apply, but this is most useful in terms of allowing us a sense of where party support levels translate – roughly, or not – into seats. As Kavanagh notes it’s ‘grim reading’ for Fine Gael, and so it is.
There’s so much to think about here. Kavanagh suggests that SF would move from 14 to 25 seats. That’s an huge leap forward for them, perhaps on a par with their gains in 2011. Labour pushed back to 21 seats. Not an apocalypse, but more like their usual level across the last decade or so. Independents and Others, excluding the ULA would get 19. Another historic level of representation for that grouping. And this two years or so into a Dáil. It looks reasonably well bedded down. Fianna Fáil might expect to get 36 seats. The Green Party – remember them – would get 1 seat in Dublin Fingal. Got to be honest, this is where reality intrudes. I doubt that Trevor Sargent is running, and if he’s not running I strongly doubt any other candidate could win a seat there for the GP. That is the problem with mathematical projections which sit above the day to day grind of constituency politics.
And yet, to dismiss Kavanagh’s thoughts outright would be incorrect. While the detail may be incorrect the broad sweep would most likely be near enough correct.
But here’s where it gets particularly interesting. Look at the figures and try to work out governing combinations and some things come very sharply into view. A majority in a 158 seat Dáil Éireann requires 80 votes at least, excluding the CC.
Fine Gael 53, Labour 21 = 74
Fianna Fáil 36, Sinn Féın 24, Labour 21 = 81
Fine Gael 53, Fianna Fáil 36 = 89
And of those two which breach 80 seats which one looks most feasible? It’s not that FF/SF/LP couldn’t coalesce but given the mutual antagonisms I’d doubt it. Though, given three years who knows what the situation will be like?
Of course it is possible other combinations could be put together. FG, LP and some Independents. But the numbers suggest that the most stable combination would be FG and FF.
Now this is built on but a single poll. Yet who believes that FG or the LP are going to emerge unscathed from their time in government. Indeed FG’s sudden vulnerability is a sea change in the structural aspect of Irish politics in the past two years. So far they have sailed above the 30 per cent barrier, apparently beyond the reach of the issues that have hobbled the Labour Party. And worse again 36 might not be Fianna Fáil’s upper limit. Imagine for a moment if both FF and FG return TDs in the 40s. The historic realignment of Irish politics might be finally on! One which, unfortunately, was merely a slight realignment further yet to the right.
The point being that these sort of results, the sort of results all too likely in the wake of election 2015/6, push FG towards FF or an alternative scenario of dependency upon the LP and Independents who will be of dubious stability.
In a way the spanner in the works is an SF whose vote, at 17 per cent, is such that it can deliver significant numbers of TDs, albeit its options for government participation are limited. And it is possible that their vote may be higher. It seems to me that the political context is so ripe for further development for that party – even given the numbers of Independents and Others returned, that that would be towards the middle of the scale.
But what of the ULA. Kavanagh clearly hasn’t got the memo on the WUAG leaving the ULA, and therefore he has the new Tipperary constituency as a hold for them. But he also sees Boyd-Barrett losing DL. That seems to me to be almost inevitable, though it’s not going to be a case of for want of trying. But what sort of an ULA would it be with three TDs, two of whom were ex-SP and one SP TD? A diminished ULA – electorally – is an ULA which presents serious problems for its members and for its supporters and electorate. Moreover the levels of antipathy currently manifested and the rhetoric swirling around suggest that it may not even get to the next election.
Of course all this is an extrapolation of an extrapolation. Yet the figures support the contention that FG is likely to lose seats, in some numbers too, that the LP will do likewise and that all others will gain seats. And given the direction of the economy, and political developments, those trends look set to continue into the indefinite future. Could be that FG and LP will be sorry that an election isn’t called this week given the numbers Kavanagh suggests will be returned.