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Can the Smaller Parties and Independents hold their numbers? March 10, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Looking at the polls one could be forgiven for wondering what is going on. According to Adrian Kavanagh’s projections from recent polls the numbers for smaller parties and Independents are all over the place.

Take the IT/Ipsos-MORI poll earlier this month:

The 2nd March Irish Times/Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll estimates party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 29% (down 1% relative to the previous Ipsos-MRBI opinion poll), Fine Gael 28% (up 1%), Sinn Fein 21% (up 4%), Independents and Others 18% (down 2%) – including Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 3%, Social Democrats 1%, Green Party 3%, Independents 10% – Labour Party 4% (down 2%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows:  Fianna Fail 54, Fine Gael 54, Sinn Fein 34, Labour Party 1, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 3, Social Democrats 1, Green Party 2, Independents 6.  

That would see 16 non-FF/FG/SF TDs in the Dáil (the figures above are out by 3).

But hardly a week before the SBP/RedC poll had the following – and here are Kavanagh’s predications there:

The 26th February Sunday Business Post-Red C opinion poll estimated party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 26% (down 1% relative to the previous Red C opinion poll, which is discussed in greater detail in this post), Fine Gael 24% (NC),  Sinn Fein 19% (up 5%), Independents and Others 27% (down 3%) – including Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 6%, Social Democrats 3%, Green Party 4%, Renua 1%, Independent Alliance 3%, Other Independents 10% – Labour Party 4% (down 1%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 50, Fine Gael 44, Sinn Fein 34, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 7, Social Democrats 3,Green Party 2, Independents 18.

That’s 30 non-FF/FG/SF seats.

And the one before that from Sunday Independent/Millward Brown had the following:

The 19th February Sunday Independent-Millward Brown opinion poll estimated party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 33% (up 6% relative to the previous Millward Brown opinion poll), Fine Gael 25% (down 4%),  Sinn Fein 20% (NC), Independents and Others 16% (NC) – including Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 3%, Social Democrats 2%, Green Party 2%, Renua <1%, Independent Alliance 5%, Other Independents 4% – Labour Party 6% (down 2%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 65, Fine Gael 45, Sinn Fein 34, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 2, Labour Party 2, Social Democrats 2, Independents 8.

That’s 14 non-FF/FG/SF seats.

To add to the confusion the week before that yet another newspaper and yet another poll had the following:

The 12th February Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes opinion poll estimated party support levels as follows: Fianna Fail 32% (up 3% relative to the previous Behaviour & Attitudes opinion poll), Fine Gael 21% (down 2%), Independents and Others 21% (down 7%) – including Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 3%, Social Democrats 2%, Green Party 2%, Renua <1%, Independent Alliance 5%, Other Independents 8% – Sinn Fein 19% (up 2%), Labour Party 6% (up 1%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 64, Fine Gael 38, Sinn Fein 31, Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit 2, Labour Party 2, Social Democrats 2, Independents 19.

That’s 25 non-FF/FG/SF seats.

Clearly relatively marginal movements in FF/FG/SF have significant implications further down the line. And I’ve long noted that there are political parties that have lived and died with 3-4% of the polls in this state across the decades.

So, where does it stand? I always tend to split the difference in these matters – I’d think that – at this point – the most realistic figure for Others and Independents is probably a bit higher than the lower figures and a bit lower than the higher figures. So – assuming there’s a band of support we could see them between 12 and 20. That’s quite a range, isn’t it, and one has to factor in other issues – incumbency, profile, and so forth. But… it does look as if Independents/Others are unlikely to increase numbers in the near future.

And that is a change from the situation we’ve seen in the last year where largely speaking Independents/Others have seen their numbers tick upwards somewhat.

How to account for this? I’ve no answer at all. It could be the political fatigue I’ve mentioned previously, or it could be a slow drift back to FF and – intriguingly to SF. That latter party must be pondering whether changing leader might not be a useful means of raising its profile yet further – though just writing that, come on, SF needing to raise its profile?

I’ve mentioned here how strange the political trajectory of SF has been over the years, two steps forward, one step back, but one thing that is perhaps under considered is just how long it is since the first SF TD entered the Dáil in the late 1990s. It’s been twenty odd years to get into the 20s. And there have been set-backs along the way. Yet compare and contrast with the WP or the PDs and it is clear that SF presents a rather different dynamic to those parties. The PDs did well enough, without question but never had more than 14 TDs. A solid achievement, but not stunning. By contrast SF is now pushing close to double that and the polls seem to suggest that breaching the 30 barrier is now well within reach.

What this portends for the political system is hard to gauge. What does appear to be happening is that Labour is now in deep decline. Others and Independents are weakening. It seems unlikely that Ind/Other will retain the 34 seats they currently hold. But how many will/can they lose? And will that merely be a step upon the way to yet further decline three, four or five years further on? It’s only ten years since the 2007 election where a total of 5 Independents were returned, with 4 SF, 6 GP and 2 PDs to make up numbers. That’s 17 in total.

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1. irishelectionliterature - March 10, 2017

Looking at AAAPBP. (Solidarity-PBP)
Richard Boyd Barrett – Should be safe , especially with Sean Barrett now Ceann Comhairle
Brid Smith – Catherine Ardagh and a second SF would look to be taking seats here. Smith should be OK but it would probably be at the expense of Joan Collins. I wonder will Catherine Byrne run again?
Gino Kenny – Another in danger from SF running a second candidate and possibly a Social Democrat surge.
Mick Barry – Another where FF will be looking to gain along with SF.
Ruth Coppinger – Again SF will be hoping for a seat here. Will Joan Burton run again?
Paul Murphy – Should be safe as Zappone is the most vulnerable here to FG or SF
John Lyons and Cian Prendiville are two in with a shout of seats.

So on a good day they could get 8 but a SF surge could see them on 3 or 4.

As for the Independents …
Zappone is a goner
I’m not sure if Michael Harty will run again.
Michael Collins could be vulnerable to SF or FG
Thomas Pringles seat will come under incredible pressure as SF try and win MacLochlainns seat back again.
Maureen O’Sullivan again vulnerable
Catherine Connolly vulnerable to SF
Noel Grealish looks safe
The Healy Raes – Two will hardly get in again ?
Dennis Naughten would seem safe
Mattie McGrath and Seamus Healy will both be under pressure from FG and SF
Michael Lowry safe
Shane Ross should be safe
Fintan McGrath and Tommy Broughan. Surely one of them will lose out next time.
Clare Daly should be OK
Mick Wallace might be under pressure
Joan Collins will be under pressure
Sean Canney could be OK.
Michael Fitzmaurice could be OK, although SF or FG will be a threat.
Boxer Moran would be in trouble if FF ran an Athlone based candidate. An SF surge may not help him either.
John Halligan is hard to know. Has he cried wolf too often?

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