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Plotting the polling trends and options for government… July 2, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

There’s a fantastic series of graphs in the SBP this weekend charting the progress of the various political parties and others since the 2011 election. This accompanying an article by Pat Leahy entitled ‘State of Play’. Predictably enough it examines the current situation of those formation and non-formations and attempts to contextualise it.

But, with no disrespect to the indefatigable Leahy, the graphs are almost enough on their own. Fine Gael, great heights in 2011 reaching 36% and then leaping even higher again before dipping fairly sharply within a short few months and then slowly declining thereafter. There’s little question of a sort of consolidation across the last half year, but at 28% it’s nowhere near where it was at the GE.

Labour, a story of steady decline, a stepped trajectory, as it were, from the election where it received its strongest polling ever. It’s quite odd actually, because every second or third poll it would trend upwards before falling sharply again. And now, now it is at 7%. This is clearly atrocious – how atrocious, well, see below, and backed up by the SI/MB poll figures too. It won’t simply be much reduced as a parliamentary party, but utterly devastated and all the talk about the current coalition returning seems like so much moonshine at this point. Still, perhaps things will improve for them. That presumably is what those in the LP hope for.

Fianna Fáil, odd this one. Initially it fell from its appalling GE result before making something of a come-back in the mid period of this Dáil and then falling again with a slight improvement across the last year, now reaching 20%. Great. No, not really, given that it is only a few percentage points above its GE position. But probably strong enough to keep M. Martin in situ this side of an election. But what can they seriously hope for? For a party that two elections ago was around or about 40% plus this is disastrous. When one considers that 25% would be a good result for them that demonstrates how far they have fallen, how far they have to go to regain lost territory.

Sinn Féin, solid gains but a sort of flattening out in recent time. They’re at 18% at the moment. They were sub-10% in 2011. That’s pretty solid progress. But they seem to be hitting a problem getting much over 20% or retaining a figure in or around that. Perhaps that too will change and while I’m leery about Leahy’s line that ‘the days when SF threatened to be the largest party after the next election are over, for now anyway’ – or rather that polls that pointed to that outcome were ever to be taken that seriously (though, who knows in this wonderful new world of Irish politics) I’d tend to the view that a 20% result will be a good result for them.

And Independents and Smaller Parties and Others. 27% in the RedC poll, somewhat lower in the SI/MB poll. 5% points makes the difference between 1 in 5 voters and 1 in 4 voters. I’d think that come the election it will be closer to the latter. But that still suggests historic numbers in the next Dáil, at least in respect of the contemporary period. I’ve long argued that the longer people say they’re voting Ind/SP/Others the greater the likelihood that they will. Perhaps that’s self-evident, but… an identification made and sustained is less easy to break than otherwise. Even if they dipped to 18% that would still be a remarkable outcome (and again higher than that recorded in 2011).

In a way there’s a consistency here. Support has to a degree settled down.

None of which is to say there cannot be sharp changes in advance of the election. But what is striking when compared with the pre-2011 period is that the polls are actually much less chaotic. Yes there’s been movement, but less sharp movement. Does that suggest stability? Perhaps, in a way. But the sort of stability of an electorate waiting in the long grass.

None of which makes the options for government post-election 2015/16 easy to work out.

Adrian Kavanagh’s latest projections provide some food for thought, though. On the SBP figures he notes:

Fine Gael 28% (NC), Independents and Others 27% (up 5%), Fianna Fail 20% (up 1%), Sinn Fein 18% (down 3%),Labour Party 7% (down 3%).

Which delivers:

Fianna Fail 35, Fine Gael 56, Sinn Fein 25, Labour Party 3, Independents and Others 39.

That’s a flotilla of others, isn’t it? And Labour? Dear oh dear. But SF underperforming in a way and FG still strong.

Whereas SI/MB?

Fine Gael 29% (up 4%), Fianna Fail 23% (up 4%), Independents and Others 21% (down 2%), Sinn Fein 21% (down 3%),Labour Party 6% (down 2%).

Which delivers:

Fianna Fail 37, Fine Gael 57, Sinn Fein 33, Labour Party 1, Independents and Others 30.

FG almost identical. The Labour Party? Worse again. Ind/Others weaker but still huge numbers. FF in or around and SF somewhat stronger.

If I were to take a bet I’d just very hesitantly go with the SI/MB outcomes. Not sure why, just I think SF might do better, Ind/Other just that little bit less well, on the day. But again, we could be many months away (I’d almost bet we are too given that the LP vote is so appallingly weak, almost approaching GP levels of attrition on these figures, and they’ll be in no hurry to meet their electoral makers) or close enough to weeks.

As to government formation? 80 plus for a bare majority. And on this? Again all the talk about FG/LP is nonsense on these figures. 57 + 1? 56 +3? And cobbling together something from the rest? Just to put it in context a government of FG and LP would on these projections need a minimum of 22 extra seats. Now, okay, perhaps in amongst the Ind/Others/Smaller Parties there’s sufficient there, but a fractious lot at best. And at worst?

Which leads back to the thought that the only cohesive option may well be some arrangement, let’s put it no stronger than that, between FG and FF.

Changed times.

1937 Statement By Communist Party Secretariat Objecting To The Proposed Constitution July 1, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics, The Left.

On July 1st 1937 the nation voted in a General Election and also in a Referendum on our current Constitution.

The sage of Tallaght considers the latest polls… July 1, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

Pat Rabbitte addresses the latest polling data in the SBP at the weekend. Perhaps inevitably he’s most interested in the plight of the Labour Party.

That will concern the party because, as the smaller partner serving in government, there are few opportunities to be distinctly seen as the author of a popular measure. And there are several opportunities for the party to be blamed as the author of unpopular measures. I have seen research which shows citizens articulating the values that matter for them where Labour is clearly the party that represents those same values, but the citizens concerned don’t identify them with Labour. If they don’t make the connection, it is a challenge to the party to correct that.
During a period of deep recession when the challenge is to protect the existing social fabric of communities, it is more difficult for Labour to convincingly espouse those values. There is no dividend for stopping bad, or worse, things happening. Hence the different perspectives being argued by some economists and some politicians. The economic analysts are determined that they won’t be caught offside again. The politicians know that talking about macroeconomics cuts no ice with more than half the electorate.

But he suggests that the loss of 3% by SF might be linked to its identification with Syriza. Okay, but surely that would imply that people would then be more likely to vote for Labour (assuming they can’t find it in themselves to vote for FG)? And yet they don’t. He doesn’t address that puzzle.
He does mention the independents though – well, how could he not – though not the smaller parties.

The share of support going nominally to independents remains truly remarkable. When it comes to a general election, the purpose of which is to elect a new government, will a quarter of the Irish electorate actually vote for independent candidates?
At least some of that support is an expression of rejection of all political parties and only in some cases a positive vote for the particular independent candidate. It is for some people their way of saying “a plague on all your houses”. If the outcome of the next general election is that a government can only be formed with the participation of a dozen or so independents, the same people will be doing novenas for the restoration of the party system.

Perhaps. Though, it’s not as if something like it hasn’t happened before. The 1947 election saw 7 Independents support the Inter-Party Coalition, though not be a member of it. 2007 saw a more explicit agreement and although things got ropey once the crisis hit one has to wonder if it might have staggered on in better shape otherwise.

He throws in a near comforting thought for the Government:

Maybe the polls are wrong. The mainstream view following the British general election was that the polls got it wrong. The pollsters themselves engaged in a measure of self-flagellation. I am not so sure. When British voters were staring, day after day, during the campaign at a hung parliament enough of them switched in the polling booths to vote for a definite outcome.
We may yet see something similar.

Though in fairness he has to add:

But there is no sign of it yet.

Strange that.

Some thoughts on the Independent Alliance Candidates announced Yesterday June 30, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.

A number of new candidate were announced by The Shane Ross chaired Independent Alliance yesterday.
There were some interesting names among them with a number of decent prospects for seats.
Early days yet but you’d think Carol Hunt would find it difficult to win in the effective 3 seat Dun Laoghaire. That said the only sure thing here is that there will be a Fine Gael seat.
Tuam based Sean Canney in Galway East has a good chance, he polled 5,567 votes in the 2011 Election and once again topped the poll in the Local Elections. Has a decent chance.
Niamh Kennedy topped the poll in the local elections and is highly thought of. Geography is also on her side as currently there are no candidates in her locality. Donegal will be hotly contested but again in with a chance of a seat, possibly at the expense of Thomas Pringle.
Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran is another one who polled well at the last election, the Longford Westmeath By Election and also the Local Elections. Moran is an ex FFer and there is currently a row in FF over running an Athlone based candidate. Were FF to run just a Longford based candidate along with Robert Troy then Moran who is Athlone based would be well placed.
Kevin Callan , a councillor who was elected for Fine Gael in 2014, will be running in Louth. Not a great chance of taking a seat.
Deirdre O’Donovan was one of a number of Ross endorsed candidates elected at the Local Elections polling over 1500 votes in Rathfarnham. She is running in Dublin South West, she may do well but will be hampered by the fact that five of the six councillors elected for Rathfarnham in 2011 will be running in Dublin South West.
We’ll see who else will nail their colours to the Ross mast….
Re this Alliance, I can see whats in it for Ross and the other ccurrent TD’s, in that they fancy being in government…. but what’s the point of being an Independent Alliance ‘backbencher’ ? You might have access to a Minister, but surely you are just lobby fodder like most backbenchers?

Getting the digs into Greece… June 30, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in European Politics, Irish Politics.

Pat Leahy has another excellent piece in the SBP at the weekend which asks why is the Irish government so keen to criticise Athens? In some ways it is not a huge puzzle. Despite a nominally social democratic component the instincts of this government are reliably right of centre on economic thinking (it has been breath-taking, albeit not exactly a revelation, just how willing the LP has been to accede to the orthodoxy economically. And one has to wonder just what mechanisms or resources inside that party there are to generate thinking on economics?). And given that that reflects European thinking small wonder that they are happy to attach themselves to the overall approach.

This has led to complete absurdities. Leahy notes that the Taoiseach in a bid to be the best European around (I paraphrase) came out with some bizarre stuff:

Last week he said at least two things that required further explanation, to put it kindly.
When asked by reporters if Ireland would support debt relief for Greece, he responded bluntly: “No.”
Officials later clarified that Ireland would indeed support debt reprofiling – or stretching the repayment periods and lowering the interest rate on debt, generally thought to be a form of debt relief. It was debt forgiveness, officials explained, that Ireland would not contemplate.


Kenny also said that Greece should follow Ireland’s example in correcting its public finances with growth-friendly measures. Here, he asserted that Ireland did not raise income tax.
“In Ireland’s case, we did not increase income tax, we did not increase Vat, we did not increase PRSI, but we put up alternatives to those measures proposed in order to keep a pro-growth policy and make our country competitive, grow our economy and provide jobs for our people,” he said.

To which Leahy responds:

Well, perhaps. The rates of income tax might not have been increased. But Ireland certainly increased taxes on income.
Ask everyone who pays the Universal Social Charge.

But as was noted by 6to5against, VAT increased too – in December 2011 from 21 to 23%. But I suppose such details are irrelevant.

Leahy makes the point that Dublin is merely articulating openly an attitude that is held widely in the EU, and he sums it up like so:

The political atmosphere and personal relationships around the Brussels negotiating table are toxic. But that is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that the two sides remain divided by issues of substance.
Let Schäuble and Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister, sum it up.
“We cannot allow any member state to spend money without limit and other member states to be liable for it,” Schäuble said on Friday at a conference in Frankfurt.


The same day, Varoufakis told RTE’s Morning Ireland: “When they say that they want more pro-growth measures, what they effectively are saying is we should reduce the minimum wages, we should reduce the minimum pension further . . .
“To do this in a country where one million families rely on a single pension because everyone else is unemployed, instead of intervening in employer pension contributions, is quite absurd, and it is a proposition that I am simply not prepared to put to my parliament.”

What’s most curious about all this is that we know – indeed the SBP editorial itself argues this – that the EU/IMF approaches are futile in relation to Greece, that they cannot work economically and that what is asked of that state and its citizens is both impossible and counterproductive.

The editorial says:

The Greek people have endured massive austerity, and it has not worked, because their economy is nowhere near as open as Ireland’s is, and is without the basic tax-gathering structures to be able to balance the books as we have.
Their negotiating positions have, at times, been unfortunate and haven’t worked out. But precisely the same thing can be said of Ireland.

And yet, on it goes. Testing the EU and the eurozone to breaking point, and perhaps beyond. And to what purpose? It is impossible not, now, to regard this as ideological and political masked as the inevitable. As and when that latter is demonstrated to be manifestly incorrect one can only assume the ramifications will be considerable.

Waiting for the election… June 29, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

A revealing aside in the SBP at the weekend where it noted that on foot of the most recent polls, with FG support holding steady in the high 20s…

The Sunday Business Post has learned that Fine Gael has been conducting focus groups in recent weeks in which it has tested key election messages, and also the timing of an election.

Fine Gael usually conducts focus groups about every six months, but has stepped up election preparations in recent months. The groups were watched live in Washington DC by a firm of political advisers employed by Fine Gael.
It is understood that the groups were asked about their reaction to an early general election, and were largely non-committal. They were also asked about election themes and campaign strategies.

What, one wonders, does non-committal mean? They were neutral about it, or unenthusiastic? Which ever it is is important, but perhaps more important is the idea that FG has been asking this question. Of course it would, wouldn’t it? But given the relative closeness of the election, one way or another, now much less than 9 or so months away…

Sunday Independent/MB Poll: One day you’re up, next day you’re down… June 28, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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Just to add the figures in to contextualise with those IEL posted up yesterday evening, here’s the SI/Millward Brown Poll:

FG 29% [+4], FF 23% [+4}, SF 21% [-3%], Ind/Smaller Parties/Other 21% [-2%], LP 6% [-2]

A lot of convergence broadly with the SBP/RedC poll even if the trends are different.

Again, more on these during the week.

Latest Sunday Business Post / Red C Poll June 27, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics.

SBP/Red C poll:
FG 28 (nc),
Labour 7 (-3),
Fianna Fáil 20 (+1),
Sinn Féin 18 (-3),
Inds 23 (+5),
Greens 2 (-1),
Renua 1 (nc),
Others 1 (+1)

Any Marriage Equality Referendum bounce for Labour looks to have been wiped out by the cuts to Lone Parents. ….

This Week At Irish Election Literature June 26, 2015

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Election Literature Blog, Irish Politics.
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From 1993 a leaflet from The Irish Workers Group Students in UCG and RTC outlining some issues facing students

A leaflet from An Spréach a Dublin based Housing Action Collective.

From 1952 an invite to a Fianna Fail “Weekend School for Directors of Elections”. Some interesting topics with Sean Lemass and Sean McEntee among the speakers.

From the 2015 Carlow Kilkenny By-Election a leaflet from Elizabeth Hourihane who was running for the National Citizens Movement.

Inequality… June 25, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.

Colin Murphy has a thoughtful piece on inequality in the SBP, even if the ideas therein aren’t necessarily to my taste. His basic thesis is that inequality shouldn’t simply be a concern of the left. Indeed he argues that:

Two world wars, the advent of the welfare state, the deepening of the concept of national identity and the advent of a sociological understanding of man as a product of his environment all served to promote the idea (and practice) of greater equality.

In the 1990s, though, with the “second globalisation”, this consensus collapsed. The result was both soaring inequality and a weakening of the social cohesion required to combat it.

I don’t think it’s any great stretch to point to the existence too of a counterweight in regard of the USSR as an implicit reason why western states tended towards welfarism during the post war period as states sought to entice populations away from communism. Now this isn’t as such an argument for supporting the existence of such states – one could rightly feel that it was at the very least problematic that oppressive states guaranteed implicitly European welfare states. And one could also wonder at the inability of social democracy to defend the gains of that period as well.

But be that as it may Murphy rightly notes that:

The danger here is that this becomes a vicious spiral. I saw how this works in microcosm when I lived in Johannesburg (where income inequality has increased since the end of apartheid). The rich perceive the poor as a threat, so they retreat into secure, private space.

Public spaces and services become the preserve of the poor, so the rich have less interest in subventing them. The public sphere thus deteriorates, and ever more people abandon it.

This is, as many will know, particularly evident in the US, and not just there. Underfunding of public services is now manifest across the ‘developed’ world in states where low taxation and decreasing expenditure is becoming the norm. That this has appallingly negative effects upon citizens and their lives is a form of almost deliberate collateral damage, and intrinsic to the dynamic.
Murphy suggests that French academic Pierre Rosanvallon has warned that the corrosive effects of the processes described above threaten the fundamental basis of our and others societies (given the level of inequality in this state). And he suggests that:

At the heart of this is the idea of reciprocity. If people don’t believe that the others around them are contributing their fair share, they won’t either. Reciprocity (which is similar to what Robert Putnam calls “social capital”) is vital to the success of democracy. And inequality is corrosive to reciprocity. He quotes Tocqueville: selfishness is “to societies what rust is to metal”.
The feeling that reciprocity has broken down is directed at “the two extremes of the social ladder” – the very rich and those dependent on welfare. For this, he has three remedial solutions, which could appeal across the political system: greater transparency of fiscal and social statistics, so people know exactly what is being paid by and to whom; “vigorous” measures to prevent tax and welfare cheating; and a return of universal welfare benefits.

I fundamentally agree with the latter, have question marks as regards the second and think the first is unquestionable. But I wonder if in some ways this prescription is simply too late. Because it’s not just a question of the status quo ante, but of a changing economic context where work itself, at least well paid, continuous medium to long career, style work is becoming – under the pressure of automation and other factors – scarcer.

In that new context the very nature of work itself and the relationship between state and citizens alters and it is telling and troubling to hear a rising chorus of voices – in the field of political economy calling for basic incomes, shorter working weeks and so on.

Yet, it is refreshing to hear again how inequality is in and of itself part of the problem rather than, as often seems to be the orthodox line, not merely an unavoidable byproduct, but rather a virtue of a system that is itself deeply problematic.


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