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About that ‘biggest’ party February 11, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

I dislike the coverage of polls that starts as follows:

Fianna Fáil has recovered ground to become the biggest party in the State, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

Who wrote that? Why Stephen Collins on the front page of the IT website.

And in October he suggested that:

FIANNA FÁIL has bounced back to become the second-biggest party in the State for the first time in more than two years, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

In April of last year he wrote that:

Among the best-off AB voters Fine Gael is easily the biggest party with 46 per cent, far ahead of all other parties. It does even better among farmers at 68 per cent but among the least well-off voters it has dropped to 19 per cent.

In June 2010 he wrote:

THE LABOUR Party has become the biggest political party in the State for the first time in its history, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

Why do I dislike that? Well, because it’s entirely incorrect. Fianna Fáil has not become ‘the biggest party’. It is the party which in a single poll has drawn most support from a sample at a given point in time. Now it could be that FF is actually the biggest party in the state in terms of members. I don’t know if the last five years has altered its ranking in that regard, and whether FG has snuck ahead of it. Perhaps, perhaps not. Or it could be that subsequent to the next election FF might be the ‘biggest’ party in terms of seat numbers. But as it stands, at this point in time, it is not the ‘biggest’ party.

I’m clearly not the only one who dislikes that term. For, lo and behold, by the time the next morning rolled around that piece had been replaced by this on the front page:

Fianna Fáil has recovered ground to become the best supported party in the State for the first time since the economic crisis struck almost five years ago, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

Good move.


1. Roger Cole - February 11, 2013

The Fine Gael / Labour government is as a matter of policy committed to “additional military fights” to Shannon Airport. It is about to send Irish troops to a “generational war” in North Africa. If support is moving from FGL to FF this could be read as a shift tot the left, it certainly not a shift to the right


2. Jim Monaghan - February 11, 2013

FF, FG and Labour are the Troika parties. Perhaps a Quinn party could be further to the right. FF are masters of deceit. FF were in power during the heyday of Shannon usage by the US military. I find the relative recovery of FF depressing. For me Cowan and Lenihan were the Laval and Petain of Irish politics. There is no difference between the 3 troika parties as regards politics. FF are now the reserve team. That between the 3 of them they retain so much support is a reflection of the failure of SF and more so ULA.


3. John Meehan - February 11, 2013

Excellent point – plus the current FF opinion poll score of 26 per cent is far below the range of vote-shares achieved by the Soldiers of Destiny between 1932 and 2007 – Mr Martin has achieved a very modest recovery for his party compared only with the catastrophe of 2011 – at the expense of his tweedledee twin Deputy Kenny – that’s all. Could the anti-coalition/anti-austerity left perform better? Yes, but that is another story. Look at the glass as half-full. No need for depressed feelings!


4. CL - February 11, 2013

Socialized health care has taken a blow as Gerry Adams has availed himself of capitalist Bill Flynn’s largesse and U.S. medicine to get his prostate fixed. Apparently it could not be done by the NHS in N.Ireland, nor by TDs health plan, nor by the Irish state medical system.
The names associated with Flynn’s National Committee on American Foreign Policy, look like a who’s who of American imperialism. This outfit played a key role in the peace process.
Perhaps its time for the Irish left to cosy up to American imperialism. Any aging male leaders could get their prostates fixed and their credibility would increase just as Sinn Fein’s has with its poll numbers doubling in a few years.


John Meehan - February 11, 2013

plus 1 – Ed Moloney reports on the Broken Elbow blog are worth reading. It may also be time for those on the Irish Left who voted Yes to the Good Friday Agteement to think again!


JP - February 11, 2013

*rolls eyes* Gerry had some fancy Manhattan doctor fingering his hole so in retrospect an historic, imperfect compromise to end a savage conflict is worthless and regrettable. Do. Me. A. Favour.


5. ejh - February 11, 2013

I have a similar gripe about papaers in the UK saying that we “voted for David Cameron”, or similar. You only voted for David Cameron if you voted for the Conservative candidate in the constituency of Witney: a UK general election is not a presidential election.


6. doctorfive - February 11, 2013

Bit like FF trumpeting they are allegedly the largest party at third level because they might have put the most people on their mailing list


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