I’m still reeling from the results of the opinion poll. It was jaw-dropping, eye-brow arching and whatever you are having yourself. Fianna Fail’s fall from grace has been more spectacular than any other government in this corner of the world, save for Iceland.
Their figures in November were abysmal. But it’s now clear that anger over the medical cards wasn’t the sole or principal cause.
This is a meltdown. It’s more than public servants venting their anger. This is the Government that was elected in 2007 on the basisi it could best manage the economy and the economy is unravelling before our eyes.
The anger runs deeper than that. I suspect people now believe that they were wrong to reward Fianna Fail in 2007, that the party should have gone out of power then. Brian Cowen has gone almost literally (if you follow the mathematics of it) from hero to zero in the space of six months. His speech last week make no impression. This poll was also sampled before Brian Lenihan got into bother this week. So the sampling was taken at the best possible moment for FF in the last month. Which makes it even worse! And like the medical cards in November, it’s more than angry public servants venting against the Government. There’s a more fundamental shift at play here.
Fine Gael may be a bit disappointed. But not Labour. What a surge! Ten points. Eamon Gilmore has done very well as leader and the party is seen – in the minds of many – as one that could effect change. Having said that, there’s a lot of validity in Fionnan Sheahan’s argument last week that it hasn’t presented a real thought-through alternative and has been playing the populist card. As it is entitled to in opposition.
The Greens look snookered. On the face of it 4 per cent isn’t too bad. Until you look at the figures in Dublin, Galway, Cork and realise it’s not much abouve 4 per cent there either. That’s all seats lost in an election. It’s PD territory.
Is this the beginning of a permanent regime-change or just a temporary dose of misery for Fianna Fail? Are we genuinely looking at a changed landscape.