Yesterday Once More


From top: Last weekend’s Sunday Times/ Behaviour and Attitudes poll; Dan Boyle

One poll does not a government make, yet the recent Sunday Times/Behaviour and Attitudes opinion poll showing nearly two in every three voters expressing support for either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, does reflect trends found in other recent polls.

Irish voters, it seems, are either reverting to type, or are falling out of love with the other.

Fine Gael, probably as a result of an inexplicable Leo bounce, now seem restored to its traditional level of support. Fianna Fáil seems to have doubled the support the party received in the 2011 general election.

The next general election will see two seperate elections. One will between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. The odds in this contest still favour Fianna Fáil. Coming out government seeking to retain office, is always the more difficult task.

In many ways the contest between the others remains the more interesting. It remains difficult to see the return of a single party government (after thirty years) or even a two party coalition. The others will be fighting amongst themselves, over the hearts and minds of between a quarter and a third of the electorate.

Sinn Féin, over the course of recent elections has acquired about 40% of these votes. The party is now firmly ensconsed in third position in the Irish political pecking order. However its further progress seems stymied.

The number of local representatives who have now left the party over bullying allegations, could now form a significant party in their own right. The whiff of sulphur that attracted new activists and young voters seems to have lost its appeal. The military efficiency that has helped bring the party to where it is, could be the very thing that impedes its further progress.

The Stormont soap opera isn’t inspiring confidence either. The party’s biggest problem remains what will become of its Great Leader. Even if Gerry Adams moves on, there is no guarantee that a new leader would remove many of the negatives that currently attach to the party.

If standing still is to be the fate of Sinn Féin, there are many in the Labour Party who now dream of such a fate. Under current trends Labour has the opportunity of winning, at most, two additional seats, while being uncertain of holding any but one of its current Dáil seats.

There is even a potential scenario where Labour could be coming back to the next Dáil with the same number, or even fewer, seats than The Social Democrats.

That party has also been finding it hard to gain forward momentum. The seats of Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall could be added to by Gary Gannon being elected in Dublin Central.

The Green Party is the only one of the others that has been maintaining its 2016 level of support. This still is an electoral twilight zone for the party, that could re-elect or have no one elected. The party has half a dozen constituencies where the possibility of Green TD exists.

The Binity party, current incarnation as Solidarity/People Before Profit, could have a difficult election with the People Before Profit section bearing a greater share of that pain.

It is among the Independent TDs that the greatest amount of change could occur. Rural TDs will be safer than their urban counterparts. Those with lower profiles will survive better than their grandstanding colleagues.

It may be satisfying to lose some of the more windier of this ilk, but an increased FG and FF presence in the next Dáil is not something to look forward to either..

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle


Looking for a political stocking filler?

Dan Boyle’s new book ‘Making Up The Numbers – Smaller Parties and Independents in Irish Politics‘ is being published by the History Press on November 27.

24 thoughts on “Yesterday Once More

  1. Milton Freidman

    It seems that the media likes to to portray that we lurching from one existential crisis to another. Mass hysteria we see from the media on a daily basis does not solve difficult problems. The public it seems have grown tired of this constant war footing. The next government will be either a FG led government or a FF led government, most likely the former at this moment. People see what the alternatives are in the likes of Sinn Fein and AAA/PBP and don’t want any of that. I would say though the Greens could do well enough next time out.

  2. ollie

    Green Party have 2 TDs, 2 absolutely anonymous TDs. ……except for this:
    Bill entitled an Act to provide for a ban on single-use non-compostable cups and other tableware and for the introduction of deposit and return schemes for beverage containers

    We are honoured.

    1. Dan Boyle

      Strange that both have been in the national media in recent days. And there is also a very active Green senator. The party has published more than half a dozen pieces of legislation on diverse subjects like electing a Dublin Mayor and prohibiting the use of microbeads. Today the party publishes a bill on stopping fossil fuel exploration in Irish waters. Catherine Martin had successfully brought about the extension of maternity leave for women who have suffered still births, But they all continue to plug the diesel like mad…

        1. Dan Boyle

          Not for the Dáil. I’m open to anything the future provides. I’m not actively seeking any candidacy.

      1. ollie

        “stopping fossil fuel exploration in Irish waters.” Happy to import though.and happy to export our toxic waste to anywhere but here.
        There’s a recurring theme with the GP, nimbyism.

  3. Milton Freidman

    Stopping Oil exploration in Irish Waters? Are you mad Dan? If and its a very very big if, a large oil and gas field is found we could become the next Norway

    1. Dan Boyle

      It’s too late. Climate scientists say we should be using no more than 20% of the current known reserves. It has to be all about renewables now.

      1. Milton Freidman

        There will always be a need for some carbon fuels unless the much vaunted Fusion Technology makes a massive breakthrough sooner rather then later. The exploration ban to me is too ideological, as it would at the moment change nothing, especially at the moment when we import most of our energy needs and personally I would favor nuclear energy over burning peat and coal but that is a discussion for another day.

        So how about instead looking for pragmatic solutions, like tax right offs for income earners for installing micro-generation tech into their homes, or complete VRT exemptions into all electronic Vehicles (I know there is some VRT write offs but it could go further). Stuff like that, stuff that will make people do the math and say that not only is it Green and environmentally friendly, its all financially beneficial. For example someone on a decent enough wage could write off, or get tax credits for a few grand per year for installing solar,wind and battery packs for their home, in which they can write off the cost over a number of years, which the pay back will be say 5 years, then people would be queuing up to buy technology like Tesla’s Solar Panels and Powerwall.

  4. Frilly Keane

    D’ya know wha’ Dan
    I think you are either being a prize b1tch
    or a big fat scaredy cat

    your need to apply language like “sulpher” and “military” to the Shinners is that tragic
    I almost feel sorry for you and the Greens

    any one Shinner in Cork
    will get more 1st preference votes than any Green candidate will throughout the entire County
    and that is your legacy
    just you on your own Dan

    and if you still refuse to see the value of Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Peadar Tóibín, Mary Lou, Eoin Ó Broin, Pearse Doherty – I could go – on as Legislators and Public Representatives in the Dáil; AND ALL UNDER 50 btw, then I think I am entitled to ask that you Shut da’ ck up

    Incidentally; your fello Langer there, Donnchadh is 28 years old.
    I suspect he’ll have achieved more in politics and for his Party before he is even 40
    or even scrounging a early fatty pension that you or any other member of the Green party will have

    The brightest thing we can all hope for from You and Your Crowd is the massive glee to be had if ye end up occupying more seats than Labour next time back

    1. Dan Boyle

      You got that from that. I’ll continue to argue against Sinn Féin philosophical approach but I do admire its organisational capacity. And there are some fine individuals in the organisation. Nevertheless I feel my critique is valid and fair. You’re also way out in your figures, but that’s understandable.

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