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An Election Day surprise? Could be! January 15, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Currently, and talking to a range of people, the attitude has been that Fianna Fáíl would head up the next government. But this excellent overview from Michael Marsh of polls and outcomes perhaps slightly amends that. It suggests broad bands of seat numbers for parties and groups and independents. In a 160 seat Dáil, it argues that Fine Gael on 28% (its rating in current polls – or thereabouts) would get 48-52 seats. Fianna Fáil on 27% would get 47-50, SF on 15% would get 19-23, GP on 7% would get 8-10, Labour on 5% would get 5-7, Sol/PBP on 3% would get 3-5, SDs on 1% would get 0-3, IND/OTHERS on 14% would get 18-21. Which isn’t a million miles away from our thread here and the broad conclusions arrived at on it.

He notes that:

Of course, we may see significant changes in the polls through the forthcoming campaign, as opposition parties get more airtime and people give more thought to their vote.
But this election has been a long time coming and this might mean we see less fluctuation.
The polls too may be under/over estimating support for some parties. This has happened before, but it would be wrong to assume the pattern of error in 2016 would be repeated.

But he offers as ‘the best recent check’ the local elections, and says that they are broadly similar and consistent with these polls – accepting that SF was lower and IND/OTHERS higher.

What is most obvious is that that might suggest a narrow FG win, on seat numbers – though much may change. That’d be a surprise, wouldn’t it, but it is consistent with polling. But he adds a further thought:

What does look certain is that we can expect the formation of the next government to take at least at long as the official election campaign itself.

And that’s key. Because what do we wind up with. On these figures remarkably little has changed since 2016. And that means more confidence and supply. Would FF really tolerate more of this? Or FG for that matter? Or would we see another rapid election subsequently? But wait, this works both ways, because the same holds for FF as FG, if the numbers are slightly ahead of FG.

Funnily enough, the subtext of this piece here by Pat Leahy in the IT points to the above, while making rhetorical flourishes about ‘the most open election in years’.

And if much is as was, well, we know the pattern of government in these cases – a raft of compliant Independent TDs, perhaps with a party or perhaps not. And a 3-4 year term. Welcome to the future. Mighty similar to the immediate past, some may well say if Marsh is correct.


1. Joe - January 15, 2020

We need a few polls. Should be plenty in the next few weeks. And we need feedback and gossip from the doors.
Which party is going to get the spring tide? The Greens have to be the best bet for that. So 7-10 seats for them might be a low guesstimate.
My gut stills says FF getting ahead of FG by maybe even 10 seats. But then when I think of FF’s ‘heavy hitters’ vs FG’s ‘heavy hitters’ I’m not so sure. FF really don’t have much talent to form a Cabinet!


sonofstan - January 15, 2020

“My gut stills says FF getting ahead of FG by maybe even 10 seats”

Where will they pick them up?
5 seats from SF/inds outside the pale?
5 Seats in Dublin? – certainly DNW, maybe DC? (Mary Fitz almost deserves an award for the longest sustained election campaign ever)


Joe - January 15, 2020

I’d see them taking two in places down the country where they’ve currently got one. Taking FG and/or indo and/or SF seats. (e.g. Carlow Kilkenny to go 3 FF 2 FG, the like of that). And across Dublin, picking up one seat in places where they’ve currently none (DNW, DC, Dún Laoghaire).
Pure speculation … I think I might be channeling my late mammy who was a cousin of Liam Lynch’s fiancé (true), they left him to die on the side of the mountain, you know. Up Dev.


2. NFB - January 15, 2020

Fine Gael having more seats at the end of the count than Fianna Fail would be trumpeted as a huge victory by Varadker and co, even though its never been more apropos to describe the two parties as either side of the same coin.


3. Paul Culloty - January 15, 2020

Telling that 29% of the electorate have no confidence in any party leader, and a further 20% Don’t Know:


Liked by 1 person

Alibaba - January 15, 2020

On the plus side, Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dumber for Varadkar and Martin.


4. Dermot M O Connor - January 15, 2020

My ideal is (as on other thread) FF and FG win the same number of seats. Comedy joy. On these % numbers it’s definitely possible.

Depending on the numbers whoever edges out in front, MM could well face the choice of coalition with SF or refusing the option, and going down as the first FF leader not to be Taoiseach. Hmm. Retire, or be Taoiseach with SF as coalition partners. Tough choice! What’s a professional politician to do? Think of the national interest, haha.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - January 15, 2020

I laughed out loud at your last point – think you’re right too!


5. Daire O'Criodain - January 15, 2020

My own contribution from a couple of weeks ago in line with the above.

View at Medium.com

Some stains already. I thought the Dail more likely to run past March and have copped on that there will be 160 seats, not 158. Apologies for some excessive polemic about the “Left”, not overly fair. I suspect those of us who spend more time on digital media especially twitter may see FG as more under siege than they might actually be, because there is a bias towards anger and outrage “throw the bastards out” rather than something calmer – and even ms media are happier knitting at the guillotine than watching a coronation.

Rationally, Leo and Michael swapping places or Leo just nudging Michael out seems like the main game, but intuitively, I have to imagine there will be a twist.

For FG to limp to a third administration would be a remarkable achievement against the wider backdrop of post-independence history. After one term: “steady as she goes” has a decent chance against “fresh”. After two terms less so. The campaign will matter and the performance of the leaders particularly so. That may make the broadcast debates more influential. I kinda feel Michael is more nimble in that ring than Leo, but that’s personal impression only.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - January 15, 2020

I thought much the same, re FF, but I do wonder is that a construct from talking to people who want it to be so, or expect it to be so based on not much evidence. The lack of FF polling increases is interesting. But then, we’ll know soon enough when the first polls of the campaign come out. I’d agree Martin is more nimble than Varadkar but I wonder is Martin oddly familiar or over familiar?


Daire O'Criodain - January 15, 2020

On the last, as I think Dick Spring once said: “Sin cheist.” From a strictly Shakespearean perspective, the personal contest looks, at the outset, the main human drama of this election, whatever about the wider political context.


WorldbyStorm - January 16, 2020

Agree completely. Of course, if one of the candidates doesn’t have a personality, no contest! 🙂

Looking at today’s events, a strange start.


6. Jim Monaghan - January 15, 2020

“In Dublin Bay North it looks like there will be at least three radical left candidates – Councillor John Lyons (Independent Left); Michael O’Brien (Solidarity-Socialist Party); a PBP Nominee, possibly others – Comrades Self-Destructing, Flash the Red Light – STOP! 🧨🚦”.

My comment on this “At this rate, they will be down to one canvasser per candidate.” In despair.


pettyburgess - January 15, 2020

It’s ridiculous. It can’t even be explained by a desire to raise candidate profiles for the locals as those won’t be for years. I know that in the SP’s case part of this sectarian behaviour probably stems from a desire to show that they aren’t in the retreat after their splits. But I wonder how much of it in both the SP and PBP is about maximising state funding.


7. Jim Monaghan - January 15, 2020

My friend John Meehan has this “John Meehan
A General Election will happen in Ireland Saturday February 8.

Paul Murphy TD (Dublin South-West) proposes a single platform for the anti-coalition radical left – very late if it happens, but better something than nothing.

Judging from recent by-election results, and the 2019 Local and European election contests, the radical left and Sinn Féin (which is for coalition with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil) will achieve bad results.

The Green Party is likely to perform well.

We can try to achieve something better than the above – it is an uphill task.

Part of the reason that the radical left achieved bad results in the 2019 Local and European Elections is : too many candidates, splitting of the vote, demoralisation and despair among activists and supportive voters.

Seats will be lost unnecessarily, possible wins will not happen, defeats will be snatched from the jaws of victory.

Take a look at this data from the 2016 General Election : the radical left needs to learn lessons from the experts, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – very quickly :

“General Election 2016
Fine Gael had a poor election in 2016 but were saved by their vote management. They were just one point ahead of Fianna Fáil on first preferences which would have given them just a one seat advantage but a better bonus seats performance saw them winning twice as many bonus seats to edge the gap to six seats.

Thus Fine Gael went close to their excellent 2011 performance with a ratio of 124%, their second best ever.

Fianna Fáil also did well and were above their historical average and above their 2014 locals ratio. But good vote management gave Fine Gael two seats or more in 15 constituencies with Fianna Fáil winning two in just nine and that was the main difference between the two largest parties.

Sinn Féin got one bonus seat for a positive ratio of 105%, which was down on their local election ratio of 110%.

The Others as expected fell well short of what their first preference vote warranted as they took 13 seats less for a ratio of just 67%, down from 89% in the locals.

None of the smaller parties came up to scratch and were all below the 100% bench mark from AAA-PBP best at 96% to The Green Party at just 47% (excluding Renua).””


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