Sinn Fein have surged by 3 points to 20 per cent in the second week of the Irish election set for February 26th according to the highly trusted Red C poll for the Sunday Business Post.
Sinn Fein gains came despite a major media and political barrage aimed at the party after a bloody spate of Dublin gangland killings and Sinn Fein’s position on ending the Special Criminal Court which operates without juries and that trys gangland suspects.
The Sinn Fein surge seems to have been at the expense of the current government partners, Fine Gael and Labour who have dropped to 28 per cent (down 3) for Fine Gael and 8 per cent (down 2) for Labour.
Bad news for coalition in Red C poll tomorrow - FG 28 (-3), Labour 8 (-2), FF 18 (+1) SF 20 (+3), Ind 26 (+1)— Sarah McInerney (@SarahAMcInerney) February 13, 2016
Fianna Fail whose leader Michael Martin was adjudged the winner of the first leader’s debate, were up one point to 19 per cent from 18 per cent, Independent candidates and small parties polled a whopping 26 per cent.
There has been much commentary about the unimpressive start by government parties led by Enda Kenny and Joan Burton. However, it also appears that like in many other countries, including the US there is a deep anger among the electorate. Having been hit by a major economic recession many Irish voters are still struggling to recover.
The anger is especially obvious in working class areas hit hardest by job losses and often emigration. The Labour Party is expected to suffer the most from that anger as they are seen as making little progress for the poor while in power. Party leader Joan Burton may be in deep difficulty holding her own seat as an opinion poll in her constituency showed her losing out.
The massive independent vote seems a clear indication of the unsettled political landscape. Most experts expected that number to drop sharply once the election began but the opposite has apparently happened.
The Sinn Fein vote came from major gains among working class voters while they actually lost support from middle and upper class voters.
More than half of voters (51%) want a ban on candidate and party posters during general elections, according to Red C poll. #GE16 @PA— Brian Hutton (@magicbathtub) February 10, 2016
Something else working for Sinn Fein may be the 100th anniversary events remembering the Easter 1916 Rising which has put the party in the spotlight.
Bookmakers believe the most obvious combination for government is Fine Gael with Fianna Fail which is currently the favorite to form the next government combination. If it occurred it would be a history making one putting together the two parties that have dominated Irish politics since 1926.
However in the new poll the combination only comes to 47 per cent, less than 50 per cent which could lead to a dependence on smaller parties to rule.
Many believe Ireland may have to vote again in a second election which might be held later this year if a shaky government is formed dependent for support from unpredictable independents.