That hill FF have yet to climb August 12, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
It’s odd, thinking about the Fianna Fáil recovery, and it is a recovery with some votes slipping back to them, the scale of the challenge still facing them is considerable. They are still at a lower percentage than they were at the June 1927 Election – 26.2% then, 24.3% earlier this year (and current polling has them in the high 20s). Compare and contrast with a situation where they regularly polled between 40 and 50% between those years (granted lower initially, and tellingly closer to 40% for most of the 90s and 00s). Even their recovery since 2011 wasn’t that spectacular, 6.9% on their then figure of 17.4%. Yet psychologically the crucial thing has been to breach the 20% barrier and to come extremely close to Fine Gael. As will be remembered on the day after the election it seemed as if they might even top FG. They didn’t quite manage that, but few would disagree that they will next time around.
And yet, they have to put on the same and more again to make the sort of gains they need to shape a reasonably ‘stable’ government. Adrian Kavanagh’s last round of projections offers a useful measure of just how much they have to claw back. On 29 % they would receive around 57 seats. On 30% they would receive around 58 seats. 28%, oops, it’s down to 54 seats (just to be clear it’s not a clear relationship between percentages and seats but the broader trends are obvious). To be seriously in contention of leading an administration capable of retaining power across four or five years they really need to be in the mid-30s and well over 60 TDs returned. So another 6.9% while very welcome isn’t quite going to cut it.
Can they do it? I’m perhaps not best placed to assess that. So much depends on where they can mine votes from, or whether votes are locked in with currently existing formations and Independents. Are FG voters likely to be prised away? One would have to wonder. They’ve stuck with that party through thick and thin. Labour is almost out of the reckoning, hitting historical lows for that party. Sinn Féin may be more profitable, but on the other hand incumbency, profile and potential leadership changes may maintain the solidity of their vote. Independents and Others may be easier. Still, there are niches that have developed there that may be difficult to mine successfully – the further-left, the SDs, some Independents, etc. So while 6-7% is doable, getting another 5% may be a greater challenge.
It has been remarked that all things considered FF appear remarkably pleased with themselves at the moment. There’s no grand coalition, FG are in power but unloved, the government is unstable and likely to be short-lived. As noted previously, an attitude is emerging that FF can sit back and wait for the whole show to implode. And yet I look at the figures above I wonder just how easy is it going to be for them. It seems to me all too plausible they might be stranded in an area where they had – say, 60 odd seats, but faced much the same problems as FG in pulling together a coalition, where they too were a minority government, closer than their predecessors but still tantalisingly far away from an overall majority.