Enda Kenny is the man the Irish people want to lead the next government, a major surge in popularity for the leader of the Fine Gael party.
With just six days to go to Ireland’s first post-Celtic Tiger General Election, Kenny has topped the opinion polls in two national newspapers.
Both the Sunday Independent and Sunday Business Post polls have Kenny as the clear favorite to become Taoiseach after the country votes on Friday.
Kenny now enjoys 33% support in the Independent/Millward Brown poll and 31% in the Business Post/Red C survey, well ahead of Micheal Martin and Eamon Gilmore on both counts.
But the electorate also favor a Fine Gael/Labour coalition according to the Sunday Independent, despite the ongoing war of words on the campaign trail between the two parties.
The Sunday Independent reports a ‘quantum leap’ in the popularity of Mayo man Kenny, who wants to lead a single party Fine Gael government with the support of independent TDs from around the country.
Almost a third of those surveyed in the Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll believe Kenny, on 33%, should be Taoiseach with Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin second on 28% and Labour’s Eamon Gilmore third on 24%.
The latest Sunday Business Post/Red C poll has Kenny on 31%, Martin on 26% and Gilmore a distant third on 21%.
The Red C poll suggests that support for Fine Gael is up one percent to 39% going into the final days of canvassing, while Labour are down three to 17%, Fianna Fail are on 16% with Sinn Fein up two to 12%, the Greens down one to 2% and Independents unchanged at 14%.
The results are slightly different in the Millward Brown poll conducted this week for the Sunday Independent which suggests that a majority of voters want to see a Fine Gael/Labour coalition rather than a single party Fine Gael cabinet supported by independents.
However, more than half those polled for the Sunday Independent also believe that Fine Gael and Labour are not compatible, up six points to 51% from the last Millward Brown poll on January 30th.
Worryingly for Gilmore, entrenched in a bitter verbal war with Fine Gael, 14% of those who said they would vote Labour at the end of January have now switched allegiances to the Kenny camp.
Overall support for Fine Gael in the Sunday Independent poll now stands at 37%, down one point, with Labour down 3 to 20%.
Fianna Fail are up four to 16%, Sinn Fein are up two to 12% with the Greens unchanged on one and Independents down two to 14%.
Offered eight possible government combinations in the poll, a Fine Gael/Labour coalition procured 20% support with 16% in favor of a Fine Gael majority government.
Third choice, on 12%, was a single party Fine Gael government supported by Independents.
On combined figures, 28% of those polled support a Fine Gael government without Labour as opposed to the 20% in favor of a Fine Gael-Labour alliance.
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After living in Ireland for almost one year, this is what I’ve learned