Wednesday, 23 February 2011

My Irish Election Predictions (aka History in the Making)

We are now days away from the general election in the Republic of Ireland.

New Fianna Fáil Leader
Michael Martin
As I blogged here last month, the ruling Fianna Fáil government are set to make big losses as it reaps the backlash of an angry Irish populace after the European Union and IMF economic bailout and the austerity measures that have been imposed on the nation by the government. It is likely to be Fianna Fáil's worst election result in their long and distinguished history having been the largest party in every Irish parliamentary election since 1932.

Fianna Fáil Collapse Imminent
When I wrote about the state of play 4 weeks ago, Fianna Fail's only hope of salvation was of galvanising themselves behind a new leader. Well, they have that new leader in Foreign Secretary Michael Martin but the latest opinion polls are as dire for them now as they were for them then.

As the excellent Britain Votes blog has said:

"As it turned out this was a good move as Martin is a very capable communicator and he has done well in the role. Nonetheless the Fianna Fail brand is so irrevocably damaged that even senior members are talking of ‘managed decline’ and Martin has stated he has a ‘ten year plan’ to return to power".

For a party that has won on avaerage, 43% of the vote at general elections since independence, they are now hovering around the 16% mark in opinion polls with only 2 days to go.

Enda Kenny - the next Irish Taoiseach?
Time for Fine Gael to Shine?
For the first time in Irish history, the perpetual second party, Fine Gael are on the verge of becoming the largest party in the Dáil Éireann with leader Enda Kerry on the verge of becoming the next Taoiseach (Prime Minister). They are projected to score anywhere between 35%-40% but are probably just going to miss out on an absolute majority in the 166 seat Dublin-based Parliament . They are more to the centre-right than Fianna Fail and also the Irish Labour Party who, having led some opinion polls last summer with their popular leader Eamon Gilmore have slipped back to the 20% mark in recent polls.

It's presumed that Fine Gael and Labour will concoct a coaltion government as they have done before but this can not be guaranteed.

Will Sinn Féin make greater inroads with Gerry Adams now at their helm? They'll probably not score as highly as Fianna Fail and will do well to poll anywhere near 15% but it will be progress all the same.

Damage Limitation
Irish Labour Party  Leader
Eamon Gilmore 
This election will be won by Fine Gael for the first time in their history. In itself, this marks the 2011 Irish general election as a significant turning point in the history of Irish politics.

But there are so many imponderables with just days to go. How well will Fine Gael do? They would want to score at least 40% of the popular vote I'm sure to give themselves real momentum and credibility by delivering a decisive victory. Can Labour hold on to second overall and create history for their party too? Can Fianna Fáil manage to do enough to retrieve second place from Labour? If they can, it would be seen as damage limitation par excellence.

Sinn Féin meanwhile are going to make gains but probably not the great strides forward that they would like.

The problem with evaluating where Irish politics will stand this coming Saturday is that we don't know how the STV voting transfers will split between the parties. It is this transfer of votes that will decide just how many seats in the Dáil Éireann that each party will have.

Cole's Irish Prediction
But for what it's worth, I will predict the following...

Fine Gael - 70-75 seats - short of the 84 needed for an outright majority.
Labour - 35-40 seats
Fianna Fáil - 25-30 seats
Sinn Féin - 10-12 seats

The Green Party are likely to be left with a rump of 1-2 seats from their current 6 and there'll no doubt be a smattering of Independents.

So hold on tight folks, it's going to be a fascinating but without a doubt, historic election in Ireland this coming Friday.

Irish politics will never be the same again...


  1. This is where ireland is ahead of us. They have STV and the politicians are out for every vote.

    I am in 2 minds whether to vote for AV as we have NEVER supported it as a party.

    I want a voting system that is true PR, that we have advocated in all the elections I have been involved in in the 80's and 90's.

    If we have FPTP in 2015, it could prove once again to produce unfair results and we must go for a true electoral system as we have always called for. I am likely to stand on my principles than a coalition fudge.

  2. Fianna Failed -

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