Let The Chips Fall



Leinster House

With a General Election becoming a distinct possibility…

A personal forecast of the winners and losers.

Phryne Fisher writes:

Having seen your Electoral edition of ‘Ask a Broadsheet reader‘ I’ve made some predictions and observations. It’s a long one so grab a tay but it’s based on some fairly detailed constituency level analysis of GE2016.

I’d really welcome reader comments on my evening’s speculations.

(parties arranged in no particular order but I’ve treated smaller parties first as they will likely experience the most significant percentage swing in seat share)

Zappone and Ross (along with his embarrassing entourage of shivering, quivering, rosary incanting bumpkins) have ensured that anyone hoping for change through voting for independents will think carefully about straying from party stables and hoisting another Lowry-like Leviathan up to the Cabinet table.


Defector Donnelly has shown his true colours and his surprise move raises questions about both the orientation and aims of the SocDems who generally reek of over-reliance on focus groups in cultivating their ideology.
Gary Gannon may help them to re-establish their gender balance in the Oireachtas but otherwise it’s no change from their present seat count of 2. I fear that their appeal is manufactured right down to the Cadbury coloured wrapper. It’s understandable why they appeal to the affluence-aspirant Broadsheet reader but I wonder if there’s anything under the foil wrapper.
They began as a lifeboat for Labour and it remains to be seen if they will sink without Donnelly on board. Catherine Murphy will definitely retain her seat but what is Roisín Shorthall but a disgruntled and increasingly irrelevant ex-junior minister who is still reeling from coming off the worst in a spat with James Reilly (no matter how correct her stance was)? No doubt her constituency support is strong but after Donnelly showed his true colours will 10,540 first preference votes still sweep this Social Democrat to the top of her poll?

Brendan Howlin’s attempt to become a Hibernian Corbyn is as pathetic as it is comedic. One of the notable differences between this parliament and the last has been the silence of Joan Burton. Without a media spotlight, I fail to see how she will hold her seat against a very impressive and rising Ruth Coppinger and Sinn Féin’s narrowly beaten Paul Donnelly in Dublin West. The question is will Labour need a 7 seater taxi to bring them to Dáil Éireann after GE17 or will a standard four door saloon do the job(stown)?

Paul Murphy has clearly consolidated his own position (despite still having a life-sentence for false imprisonment of Joan (see above) still hanging over him). The question is can the Alphabet soup of AAA/PBP consolidate their vision for change and make electoral gains by offering the electorate something more substantive than loudhailer slogans from the civil rights era? Ownership of the water movement is in disputed territory between Brendan Ogle (will he be running and if so will it be against Adams in Louth?) and AAA/PBP.
What momentum the water issue has at present is questionable with Irish Water patiently awaiting an opportunity from their bunker. Ruth Coppinger remains the more impressive but less bombastic of the party’s twin peaks (the other being Murphy).
Ones to watch include Tina MacVeigh (her strong grassroots organisation and growing profile make her a strong contender for an inner-city / west Dublin seat if run) and Gino Kenny who also performed well last time around and will likely retain his seat. Repeal the 8th will be a strong vote getter for the party generally and for Coppinger in particular.

Independents 4 Change

No change. Daly and Wallace safe. Joan Collins will make gains. Tommy Broughan safe and rising as he wisely remained clear of SomDem volatility.

Green party
Only rising sea levels can bring this party up in the polls. Their DLR seat is likely safe among Ranger-Rover driving entrepren-vironmentalists with a surfboard in the garage. Ditto for Eamon Ryan despite the fact that he only topped the poll due to massive transfer friendliness from his SocDem rival. With a better candidate in Dublin Bay South, the SocDems could steal Ryan’s seat from under him although the Gormley legacy will likely secure him his seat. Predict no change.

Fianna Fáil
Obviously standing to gain huge ground, especially in rural constituencies given popular distaste for FG among (1) socially conservative voters who have lost faith in FG over abortion and (2) downwardly mobile farmers who no longer either consider themselves part of the traditional FG rancher vote or doubt FG’s ability to return them to relative economic certainty or fight their corner in Europe.
The question for FF is not how well they will perform in rural Ireland but how they will fare in the battle with Sinn Féin (and some FG candidates) in poorer urban areas. This is the only constituency where they stand to make or lose crucial seats. One rather ominous note was sounded earlier this week suggesting FF also have prior knowledge of Garda scandal and did nothing with it (for context see this potentially explosive finding from NAMA Winelake).
This is the FG ‘kompromat’ which will be their best shot at halting FF from pulling the plug at a time of their choosing over the McCabe scandal. The final question, given the high likelihood of no clear winner is who FF will court for a governing partner. They have effectively been in shadow-coalition with FG for almost a year now but would they ever contemplate coalition with Sinn Féin?

Sinn Féin
The recent leadership change in the North has so far passed off well although elections there will be the true litmus test. The graceful exit of McGuinness has removed much of the old spectres and Michelle O’Neill heralds the dawn of a post-Good Friday party. In the South no such candidate presents her- or himself to supersede Adams. MacDonald isn’t sufficiently popular and Doherty has both the wrong gender and the wrong profile to present to a southern electorate wary of Ulstermen of any shade.
Thus Adams will undoubtedly lead the party through the next GE and will likely retire thereafter with either of the aforementioned Pope’s children the most likely to succeed in the South. The key issue for Sinn Féin is that they are caught in something of a popularity trap in which each step forward is also one step back – as they moderate and gain middle ground/swing voters, they lose more traditional voters (and especially preferences).
Thus they are stuck on somewhere between 12 and 17 percent of first preferences nationally. They performed towards the lower end of this scale in the real test in March 2016 (13.8% nationally) and despite their apparent ignorance of running campaigns south of a line running from Drogheda to Drumcliff they must have learned something from the experience of the 2016 campaign.
In the face of Dublin media and Fine Gael they stand to make significant inroads specifically in Meath East, Galway West, Dublin West and possibly Wexford. If they can break the thus far unobtainable 20% of first preferences – an unlikely scenario – they could stand to win as many as six new seats while retaining and consolidating their existing holdings.

Fine Gael

The party will undoubtedly lose seats. The past 11 months have been the politics of contrivance and stasis, weathering scandal after scandal with an invisible Taoiseach and an amicable prelude to a potentially vicious leadership battle between Coveney (the party favourite) and Varadkar (the people’s/media’s darling). FitzGerald is unlikely to emerge from Garda-gate with her reputation intact nor, for that matter, will Enda. Incidentally, FitzGerald had hoped to ride the wave of Hillary mania predicted for November but in a world of Trump FG will likely take the safe bet and send a man (and possibly a straight one) to Washington for St Patty’s Day.

Bearing all these factors in mind, despite the glow of his twitter account, @ChampagneForLeo will likely not woo big cattle farmers away from the Coveney camp at a party caucus. One seat that will definitely go is one of the FG three in Dún Laoghaire as Seán Barrett is no longer Ceann Comhairle (incidentally this gives FF a safe seat in Seán O’For-Real’s home town thus limiting Sinn Féin’s opportunities in Kildare South where they had made major inroads in GE16). Returning to FG, internally, the backbenches are heaving at the insolence of the cabinet independents and the relentless inability of government to produce good news stories for their constituents.

How well these foot soldiers will perform in the impending canvas is anyone’s guess… In terms of projected losses, FG are looking at anywhere between 3 and 7 seats down depending on the timing of the election and that is not a card within Kenny’s hand.

Don’t forget to check out the following to give you the best picture of where seats can be won or lost:
To be honest, the appropriately named ‘thirty-second’ Dáil has lasted beyond all expectations.
The end must be nigh but how will it fall and why?

I’m not a pollster and I did not ring up a thousand people to work out the following but … based on all the above (and a few hours of number crunching constituency-by-constituency … below are my predictions (2016 figure -> 2017 prediction) (FF and SocDem figures have been bracketed to reflect the Donnelly defection.

FG 50 -> 43
FF (45) -> 51
SF 23 -> 29
LAB 7 -> 4
AAA/PBP 6 -> 8
SOCDEM (2) -> 2
GP 2 -> 2
IA 6 -> 3
Ind4Change 4 -> 4
IND 13 -> 10

I’d love to hear people’s thoughts. Lots of love and have a swinging time at the polls,

Phryne Fisher is a Broadsheet reader


Yesterday: Ask A broadsheet Reader

57 thoughts on “Let The Chips Fall

  1. Fully Keen

    Politics people. Great fun. And people who actually think Irish politics is who is sitting in what seat in the Dail? Fascinating.

    Throwing rocks up a tree would provide you with more answers than trying to wonder what money hungry teacher will win the next popularity contest.


  2. Happy Molloy

    Kenny had already said he wouldn’t lead into another election so is due announcing the date he will step down on anyway.

    My guess is he will continue to lead until the summer recess and will announce this. it will enable him to step down gracefully, which most within the party would want.

    A new leader will be appointed, things will continue until the next budget when Fianna Fail pull plant in an effort to discredit the new leader enabling them to take more votes and get back in to government .

    Hopefully Kenny will make his announcement soon so that focus can be directed at that which it should never have been diverted from; the tarnishing of whistle blowers good names.

    1. Rob_G

      “My guess is he will continue to lead until the summer recess…”

      – I would not be surprised if the current govt didn’t make it as far as the summer recess; it may no longer be FG’s/Kenny’s decision to make.

      1. Kieran NYC

        I don’t think FF *want* to pull the plug right now, but FG aren’t making it easy for them.

        They may be forced to.

          1. Kieran NYC

            Was listening to The Last Word yesterday – they don’t have the funds or candidates/organization in place for a GE so soon after the last one.

  3. Cian

    SF gaining 6 seats with Adams still figuratively in charge? Nah. Still not able to get back to where they were in the 2014 locals. Hold steady or +1 if they fix the Donegal screwup.

    Remember that the current constituency boundaries are unconstitutional and the constituency commission hasn’t reported yet but will presumably be forced to, rapidly. There’ll be an increase of seats in/around Dublin

    1. Rob_G


      Sinn Féin’s moment has passed. Economy is doing too well (relatively speaking), and Independents 4 Change have been too successful at taking ownership of the anti-cronyism/anti-corruption angle.

      1. Lord Snowflakee


        I think Sinn Féin might get more transfers from disgruntled voting holding their nose FF/FG number one’rs this time who hate Labour and don’t rate Soc Dems or independents either

        I think the Independents will lose a few – Ross, Halligan etc – the whole governing thing is a bit too much for them, the latter in particular has been an absolute disgrace

        Remember last time SF were bombarded with all that Maria Cahill stuff for months before the election, this time there’s no such campaign, they might sneak through inching towards respectability

    2. PaddyM

      The official census results are not released until later this year, after which the Constituency Commission will deliver its report. Until then we’re dealing with unofficial figures so no unconstitutionality.

  4. bisted

    …nodded all the way through reading that…great analysis…hope Broadsheet give you a pre-election spot to give your predictions…

    1. Lord Snowflakee


      Imagine this time last year we had to wade through Frilly Keane’s unreadable dishwater prose for this

      it’s fupping depressing though isn’t it?

  5. Ben Redmond

    An election soon would result in musical chairs, with a FF-led minority government being tantalisingly tolerated by opposition FG. Who wants that?

  6. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    I love chips. Had them last night. With Biona Ketchup which is not disgusting, weirdly.


    Serious question. Why is there so little faith in the Independents ability to run the country?

    It can’t be lack of experience .

    Its not just a cliche that FF/FG are in reality ex- teachers, mid level civil servants etc..who jump from one ministerial post to another after a reshuffle just as clueless about the post they have left as the one they are taking up.

    Kenny was like a bad penny around the dail for donkeys & was just a shoe-in as he knew the complete workings of the Dáil & how many more generations before this parish pump politics is extinguished

    1. ironcorona

      Independents can’t really get a consensus.

      It’s not that they couldn’t run the country it’s that everything would be made difficult because without a whip the government couldn’t be sure of passing anything.

    2. Rob_G

      Why is there so little faith in the Independents ability to run the country?

      – because Independents are the worst of the parish pumpers; by definition they mainly run on issues solely-related to their constituency.

      1. bob

        That’s not true at all. Certainly it’s true of some/many independents, but not all and not by definition.

  8. Rainy Day

    Why all the clumsy puns? Can people not just write anymore?
    Howlin trying to become a ‘Hibernian Corbyn’?? ….where and how did you get that impression?….

    1. Declan

      That and the obvious love for AAA/PBP followed by Sinn Fein and no one else (though fair enough on SF analysis). Any chance that since the independents got country bumpkins the AAA/PBP crowd could get dole scrounging hash heads – or some other nasty elitist stereotype

      1. ahjayzis

        Ah come on. The Communists can at least actually string a sentence together. Those roooouuuuaaaarrrrdle Indipindints are one generation out of a cave. Embarassing stuff.

        1. Mahoney

          Yeah, all communists did last century was kill more people than heart disease, cancer and road accidents combined, it’s those uneducated low income morons (who arent the right low income uneducated people, the ones the coomies claim to fight for) are the real threat

  9. Sheik Yahbouti

    Am I the only person who is tired of this artificial “drama” over the Taoiseach and a general election. The issues of the housing crisis, the health service crisis, the homelessness crisis and the plundering of public property for private gain have all been side lined. I personally don’t give a good goddam whether Indah goes ‘at a time of his choosing’ or is given the heave Ho – these matters are a mere sideshow compared to the real problems to be dealt with. He will either attain his crappy ‘record’ as longest serving blah blah blah or he won’t. The only certainty is that no member of the Dail, the Seanad, their advisers and groupies, nor any of the media types getting excited about this, will ever want for any material comfort – ever. Let’s start getting real.

    1. Rob_G

      If you don’t see how a general election and a new Taoiseach would impact on these issues in one way or another, you genuinely do not understand parliamentary democracy.

  10. Sheik Yahbouti

    BTW, if you’re going to nick a pseudonym from Alibi, the channel for old saddos like me, spell it correctly.

  11. Frilly Keane


    I think you’re under playing the Shinners there
    there’ll be no carry on out’ve Miriam and the Montrosies next time
    also they’ll have got their act together
    and in the Succession Planning
    don’t rule out Matt Carty

    I did a typo yesterday with the FF count,
    I’m calling 49-51 but could be 55 as we don’t know who’s running yet and who’s votes / transfers are swinging low; at the same time if the connection to Noirin O’Sullivan’s leg-up breaks then… 46/47

    Interestingly this time
    the Effers and the Shinners are looking very transfer friendly – if they’re left alone by Mirium and the Sindo Indo gang

    Also, Joan Collins is going to lose ground
    Brid has gotten more traction and has established herself into Eirigi Snoddy heartland there in Ballier

    There is also the FF Candidate that just might top the poll in that same constituency next time

    Ah, me mouth is watering at the prospect of an election

      1. Frilly Keane

        well including the Lord Commander, Sean Comhairle tis 158 int’it

        and going back up to 160 in the next one

  12. edalicious

    That was great. One small correction though; in the Green Party bit, I believe you’re referring to Dublin Rathdown as DLR no longer exists.

    1. Go Áine good thing

      Yea, that’s my constituency. It’s changed name. I think Irish government has been trying to achieve a 32 county republic by other means – there’s a big sign at Belfield saying ‘you are now entering Co. Dun Laoighaire Rathdown’ and there’s another one in Fingal. Always makes me laugh, 28 county republic.

      Dead right about the Greens though. They need to buck up and give a sh*t on social issues and not just harp on about electric bikes and Happenings events and farmers markets. Sure are we not all environmentalists now anyway (except Trump and co.!)?

  13. Brendan_

    … and his surprise move raises questions.
    It wasn’t a surprise move, most political thinking Irish people knew he was going to join FF.

  14. ahjayzis

    “….Ross (along with his embarrassing entourage of shivering, quivering, rosary incanting bumpkins)…”


    Love it.

  15. Mahoney

    If FF can promise to scrap the water charges they’ll win a Tory-style majority (obviously martin will have to let his new masters in the EU that it’s just an electioneering stunt, the idea of him standing up to anyone in europe is hilarious). if not, look forward to another patchwork coalition with independents as the shinners are going to hoover up even more seats and even FF wont do business with them…… surely?

  16. Peter Dempsey

    The author has utter contempt for anybody who doesn’t agree with his political views. This is obvious from his patronising tone and barbed digs at uncool people.

      1. Peter Dempsey

        The author is the snowflake with his hissy fits around Repeal the 8th and his outrage towards social conservativex

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