Election posters along a Dublin street. RollingNews.ie photo
By Anthony Neeson
Two new opinion polls have confirmed the trend in previous polls last week that Fianna Fáil are on course to become the biggest party after the general election, while Fine Gael’s support has slipped.
The polls also suggest a surge in support for Sinn Féin, and an increase in support for the Greens.
Ireland goes to the polls on Saturday, February 8, with all to play for as voters digest party policies on the big issues of housing, health and crime.
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A Business Post/Red C poll of 1,000 voters has Fianna Fáil, with Micheál Martin at the helm, on 26 percent (+2), while Fine Gael drop seven points to 23 percent.
The biggest increase in support is for Sinn Féin who are up eight points to 19 percent, with the Green Party are up one to eight percent and Labour down two to four percent.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald launched her party’s manifesto on Tuesday.
It was a similar story with an Irish Mail on Sunday poll. On the state of the parties Fianna Fáil are on 27 percent (+2), Fine Gael 22 percent (-6), Sinn Féin 20 percent (+5) the Green Party 10 percent (+3) and Labour six percent (-1).
What will be of concern to the two larger parties is that the combined Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael vote has been unable to break the 50 percent mark in recent opinion polls.
Fine Gael has been pitching its handling of the economy to voters in the hope of clawing back voters’ trust in the party, warning that the country can’t afford to return Fianna Fáil to government.
Fianna Fáil for their part are accusing Fine Gael of running a “Trump-style operation fear” campaign.
Canvassing in Dún Laoghaire, the Irish Times report had Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying: At half-time, we’re probably about three points down but politics is hurling, not soccer, and we’re going to pull this one back.”
However, there is undoubtedly nervousness among key Fine Gael party bigwigs.
With economists warning against auction politics the Labour Party entered the fray calling for two more public holidays a year as well as looking at the possibility of a four-day week.
While both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have ruled out going into coalition with Sinn Féin after the election, Sinn Féin’s Waterford TD David Cullinane said the electorate are voting for change.
“They are voting for Sinn Féin to be in government,” he said.