Fine Gael, the largest opposition party led by Enda Kenny wants to form a single party government with independent support after Ireland’s General Election – and the latest opinion poll suggests they could do it.
A Red C poll for the Sunday Business Post, conducted less than two weeks before the election, shows support for Fine Gael increasing with all other parties suffering a decrease in support.
Support for Fine Gael now stands at 38% with Labour down two to 20%, Fianna Fail down two to 15% and Sinn Fein down three points to 10%.
The poll was carried out before and after Tuesday night’s controversial leaders debate on TV3 which Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny refused to attend. Red C polled one thousand voters all over the country with the number undecided about how they would vote down three points to 17%.
When they were excluded from the poll, the clear winners were Kenny and Fine Gael who now want to pursue a single party government policy – with the support only of independent TDs - ahead of Friday week’s election.
Current junior government partners The Greens are up one to three points with Independents and others up three to 14%.
Fine Gael sources have welcomed the results of this latest poll which backs their bid for power without the aid of a coalition partner. The poll results also come as rifts deepen between election favorites Fine Gael and their likely coalition partners in the Labour Party.
Based on the Red C poll, Fine Gael could win 70 seats which would leave them 13 short of the 83 seats required for a majority government.
Fine Gael TD and director of elections Phil Hogan has confirmed to the Sunday Independent that his party would prefer to form a government with the support of independents than to go into coalition with the likes of the Labour Party.
“Our favored option would be to form a government on its own or with like-minded independent TDs,” said Hogan.
“Obviously it is a matter for the people to decide. We will only negotiate with Labour on the basis of the mandate received for Fine Gael’s five-point plan to keep taxes low, to eliminate waste and put jobs at the centre of policy.”
Fine Gael finance spokesman Michael Noonan added to the rift with the Labour Party when he called on it to break its traditional and historical link with the trade union movement.
“It’s time for a complete break with the past in Irish politics. The golden circle of influence and inside dealing has to end,” Noonan told the Sunday Independent.
“Bankers and developers allied to a complicit government brought our economy to the brink. Their role in guiding the priorities of the government of the day will come to an end if Fine Gael gets elected.
“Enda Kenny has given an explicit commitment to ban donations to parties from all corporate organizations. This means big business, big banks and, crucially, big unions.
“I am now calling on the Labour Party to sign up to this commitment on funding.”
However, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has also claimed his party wants to lead the government after the next election, not act as a coalition partner.
Speaking at his manifesto launch, Gilmore said: “Labour, for the first time in the history of this State, is credibly challenging for the leadership of the next government. We are confident we can win that contest.”
Why Martin McGuinness will be remembered for hundreds of years to come