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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 24, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

    Calling the Result of the Election

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    We’re having a sweepstake among the political journalists. You pay the grand total of five euro to join, then have to list  your predictions for the election result. Just a bit of fun, but interesting in its way.

    From a cursory examination of the entries so far, most of us seem to expect FG to be in the low Eighties. My own prediction, for what it is worth, can be considered fairly typical. It carries the health warning that the voters are the sole arbiters and that it is based primarily on my gut instincts, but here it is anyway:

    FG- 82; Lab -35; FF – 25 (including Ceann Comhairle); SF – 12; GP – O; Independent/Others: 12. NB: Outgoing Ceann Comhairle  is automatically re-elected to the Dail.

    I should point out that nobody is giving FG as many seats as in my prediction but there are several at 81 seats. I’m sorry to “zilch” the Greens – call it “tough love”.

    It should also be mentioned that a few colleagues are putting FG rather lower, one gives them 67 seats, another 74, with FF in the 30′s in each case.

    My prediction about two months ago was roughly as follows: FG 65; FF 45; Lab 35; SF 11; Ind/Others 10.

    That’s how it looked at the time but, as I keep saying, campaigns do matter. Labour needed to ditch the “Gilmore for Taoiseach”  and “We’re going to be the biggest party in the Dail” lines much sooner. They were doing no great damage until the election was called but you have to strike a note of realism as polling day approaches.

    Had Brian Cowen resigned as party leader on November 22nd, when the Greens made their declaration of intent to withdraw from government in the New Year, then Micheál Martin could have taken over and would have had a much longer lead-in time.

    Martin is a formidable debater and has done a good job of trying to puncture the windier pronouncements of his opponents, but he hasn’t had enough time for his message to sink in.

    Also, his proposal for appointing ministers from outside the Dail and bringing-in a system of substitutes for TDs who were appointed to Cabinet was too radical for such a short campaign. It raises a lot of questions that need more time to tease out.

    Based on my projections above, it looks as if FG will not need Labour to form a government. There should be plenty of  like-minded or at least biddable Independents around. It is just conceivable that FG would invite Labour in anyway, as part of  semi-national government. That would probably mean giving the smaller party six senior and six junior ministries which would otherwise go to FG people. How likely is that? Would FF do it in similar circumstances - no bloody way!

    Ironically, it looks at the moment as if Labour is going to get its highest-ever number of seats and still not get into government. Rather sad for those very able and experienced front-benchers who are, shall we say, “chronologically endowed”, but that’s politics.

    Labour as the lead party in opposition would be an interesting phenomenon. There would inevitably be alliances on certain issues with FF and Sinn Fein and you could end up with a political re-alignment and left-right politics of a sort in Ireland. FF was originally a left-populist party until it began to make friends in the business/developer community. Kevin Boland has a story somewhere about the day the first contribution cheque arrived from that quarter … has anyone got the reference?

    So there: I’ve put my cards on the table. What’s your forecast?

    • robespierre says:

      I’m a blueshirt but blue tide (or should that be blue rinse) or no, the candidate strategy was for breaching 70 rather than 80 seats. There are some people on the tickets that are in extra chromosome territory. Not to mention some candidates from the general Longford area that are yet to sue the IT for being called bonkers.

      As a result of FF’s ship being dashed on the rocks I see the flotsam and the jetsam getting through from FG with most of the lagan but I don’t really see any of the derelicts making it (e.g. 2 in Dublin North West etc.).

      FG 76 / Lab 35 / FF 23 / SF 14 / Gn 0 / Lindos 11 / Rindos 7

    • Bellminx says:

      Ahem ! On the basis of so many recent polls being published in the run up to this election, and obvious media bias in favour of the party that is “promising” no more tax increases (moryah), viz., FG, I would like to declare tomorrow’s election NULL AND VOIID. This election must now be cancelled for two poll-free weeks so that people may have the opportunity for quiet reflection on the absolute necessity to make an informed choice without media bombardment by vested interest groups. Shut down the media for two weeks; let the political parties and independents publish their policies online and everywhere else and then let the people go calmly to the polls………. and vote for FF, of course.!
      Yes, and the votes of the Islanders (that have already voted) will have to be destroyed and the Gardai will have another trip out to the Islands.

    • Colm says:

      I wouldn’t write the Greens off just yet…

    • People are saying Trevor Sargent in Dublin North and Eamon Ryan in Dublin South have a chance and that you can’t rule out P Gogarty either but I suspect they have been tarred with the same brush as FF.

    • Sarah Carey says:

      I had FF down for 40-45 seats 2 weeks ago.
      Last week 35-40.
      When I heard on Tuesday that neighbours who’ve voted FF for 4 generations were going SF – I thought janey mac – that’s a 25 seat move….

    • Yes, I may have been too conservative in my SF forecast. Last time I thought they would get about 8 seats, they ended up with four (now five, with arrival of Pearse Doherty.) There are lots of Independents and some will be elected but there are so many running that they will tend to cancel each other out. The FF collapse, if it happens, will be an extraordinary development. As is the FG surge.

    • Bellminx says:

      After the disastrous Primtime debate on Tuesday, not one but THREE of my neighbours who were going to vote FG said there’s no way now they’d vote for FG/Enda..!!
      Imagine that..!!
      (I could have said thirty-three but that’d be stretching it.!!)

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      The first cheque for £500 was sent to Fianna Fáil by Joe McGrath (a former CnG Minister) in 1931 and Gerry Boland wanted to send it back but was overruled by the Fianna Fáil NEC on the advice of Lemass – as confirmed on pg 22 of The Power Game by Stephen Collins.

    • RayD says:

      I would give it as FG 75, FF 32, Labour 32, SF 13, Others 14.

    • Jaygee says:

      I think the real puzzler is how SFwill do. The intervention of Adams in Louth may have taken some of the shine off the Party and countered the attractiveness brought to it by Pearse’s excellent performances. ,

    • LiamK says:

      in the long run, Labour may be better off in opposition, particularly if a FG+randommers govt fails to last the course. Gilmore would be a good leader of the opposition (its a job he’s been de facto doing for the last few years anyway) and it would allow them to build on their good result today rather than being subsumed into a deeply unpopular slash & burn government with FG. (of course, thats assuming Labour *do* come second today – I can’t bring myself to write off FF)

    • Greg says:

      FG- 78; Lab -33; FF – 31; SF – 11; GP – 1; Independent/Others: 12

    • Roisin says:

      FG 82? The fear of a FG overall majority will give Lab a boost. Many lifelong FF supporters are looking elsewhere this time. Where will their votes go?
      The Greens 0? Events in the middle east and north Africa might nudge voters to keep some Greens about in view of a potential oil crisis and Green expertise in energy.

    • Karl Cummins says:

      We have collected over 119,000 seat predictions from over 1500 people and compiled the stats on http://fullhouse.whitebox.ie/stats

    • cormac molloy says:

      Fine Gael will definitley be the largest party but thoughts of 80 plus seats are a bridge too far, that would mean a net gain of 30 seats which, though possible, seems improbable. Labour will still have their best-ever result even though they have been flagging in the polls recently. FF will lose many many seats but if Labour join FG in government, FF will still have twice as many seats as SF who will gain but not nearly enough to lead the opposition. The remaining seats will go the ULA and independents but it’s hard to see the Greens even holding 1 seat. So…… FG 76, Lab 34, FF 28, SF 13, Independents/Others 15!!
      Let see what happens!!!

    • Tittlecat says:

      Deaglan, I note your projections for Labour have remained unchanged over the past two months. I reckon they will have dropped back a bit in the meantime: e.g. no more than one second seat in any Dublin constituency; possible seat losses in Waterford and in Galway West and no gains west of the Shannon seem more likely on foot of a strategically msifired campaign on just about every level from policy (or lack thereof) to misplaced ‘personality cult’ to candidate strategy plus some disastrous media performances by leading party members.

      My own projections are FG 78; FF 29 (incl. Ceann Comhairle seat) ; Labour 28, Greens 2, Sinn Fein 11, Others (ULA and Independents) 18. Any more seats for FG will be at Fianna Fail expense; so if FG is 80; then FF will be 27. As for Labour, their chances of gains in the North West and in Waterford and some Cork constituencies mayl be stymied by Sinn Fein and Independents. But who knows until the votes are counted! May the evisceration of Fianna Fail serve as a warning to the other establishment parties – if we can do it to them, then either perform or we’ll do you lot the next time.

    • Emmett says:

      Roscommon /South Leitrim predictions

      Denis Naughten (FG) , Frank Feighan (FG) , Luke “Ming ” Flanagan ( IND)

    • Basil Miller says:

      If you do vote, please remember when you vote NOT TO VOTE ANY PREFERENCE TO A PARTY YOU DON’T WANT.

      You do not have to give a preference all the way to the end of the ballot paper, with ‘something for everyone in the audience’ — if you do, in a hard-fought count your 10th or 15th preference might end …up helping elect someone you DON’T want over someone you do. BE CAREFUL — WORK THE SYSTEM!!

    • Glenda Lough says:

      An end to the Civil War parties wouldn’t neccessarily be such a good thing from a Left perspective as together FG and FF would constitute a massive Tory party which would probably rule forever. Also how could this happen? -by FG announcing the Treaty wasn’t such a good idea after all?

    • Thanks for all the comments and projections. I note a marked reluctance to give 80 or more to Fine Gael. But there seems to be a momentum out there. Tonight’s exit poll should be revealing. We all seem to be about the same for the other parties except most are putting FF above 30 which, at this stage, Micheál Martin would have to hail as a triumph under the circumstances! Still think I may have underestimated SF, ujust as I overestimated them in 2007.

    • Charlie O'Sullivan says:

      Wasn’t it Micheál Martin said that he wanted to end the “punch and judy show in the Dail” ? Judging by his performance on Tuesday night’s debate where Gilmore and Martin swapped blows while Kenny looked on and called on Miriam O’Callaghan to restore order, there is absolutely no chance that these 3 Leaders will introduce reform, they wouldnt even recognise “reform” !

    • Críostor says:

      I voted this morning (South Dublin). Like most people, I am disgusted with what has happened under the leadership of FF during the last few years. However, I could not bring myself to vote for FG. It’s not a civil-war thing…honest. But I am not convinced that Enda is leadership material. He does not inspire me. I did not vote for FF either.

      I think a lot of people who said they would vote FG (who historically did not) might actually change their minds when the ballot paper is in their hand. I think Labour could sweep up that type of voter. The thought of a FG majority (or any type of majority gov no matter the party) really only scared me when the ballot paper was in my hand.

    • Joseph Holt says:

      FG – 78, Lab – 35, FF – 30, SF – 12, G – 1, LIndes – 6, RIndes – 4 [I presume 'Lindes' is for Left Independents and 'Rindes' for Right Independents, Deaglán]

    • Sean O' Brien says:

      I predict FG 75, LAB 38, FF 26, IND 11, ULA 4, SF 12. The fear factor at giving FG an overall will pull them back a bit. The fine day will ensure a good turnout which will affect FF.

    • Colin says:

      As a FF member i will have to say we have a good chance of the low 30′s , but that is on a basis of what i have heard from people whom i have spoken to over the last week

    • Caitriona McClean says:

      FG: 76
      L: 32
      FF: 26
      SF: 11
      Gr: 2
      Oth: 19
      I believe ‘other’ group will be quite high. I am assuming poor transfers between parties. FF could go as high as 33 and ‘other ‘ reduced accordingly depending on transfers. I don’t expect FG above 76 unless transfers from Labour and independents very good.

    • Litesp33d says:

      Whoever wins this election Fianna Fail deserve to be wiped off the political landscape. Not only have they failed to cope with the economic mess that they created, more importantly they have betrayed the idea of freedom of speech and the whole basis of western democracy.

      I refer of course to their decision to push through Parliament their recent blasphemy legislation. Regardless of how it was presented it is my opinion that the intention of this particular draconian act was to try to silence the people who were raped and abused as children and shows the influence that the Catholic church has had over this political party for the last 90 years. blasphemy.ie has more details on the issues

      Blasphemy laws are unjust: they silence people in order to protect ideas. In an open and free society, people have a right to to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous.

      To introduce legislation to suppress ideas is the act of someone who cannot make an intelligent and reasoned argument for their ideas usually because those ideas cannot be supported by intelligent and reasoned argument.

      That is tyranny and tyrants should be deposed.

    • antony says:

      The Irish People a big fat 0

    • Djac says:

      Think it is unlikely that Fine Gael will get 80 seats. FG 71, Lab, 42, FF 28 (incl CC), SF 10, ULA 6, Ind 8, GP 1.

    • Dot Byrne says:

      Im just waiting to see how Luke ” Ming” Flanagan will do in Roscommon.. Hold this page !!!

    • MJB says:

      FF 27 FG 80 Labour 35 Greens 1 SF 9 Others 14

    • Kieran says:

      Sticking with my tweeted forecast:
      FG 70 Lab 38 FF 27 SF 13 Ind 13 ULA 4 Green 0 plus the Ceann Comhairle

    • Pat Reid says:

      Going through the Paddy Power odds for each constituency and also bearing in my mind how badly Fianna Fail should do on transfers from others shows :
      Fine Gael – 85; Labour – 31; Independents – 17; Sinn Fein – 16; Fianna Fail – 10 + 1 Ceann Comhairle (yes, seriously); and UWA/PbP/Socialist – 6;
      Think everyone’s seriously underestimating how bad FF are going to do.

    • Andrew Doyle says:

      I must respectfully disagree with Basil Miller’s suggestion that you should not vote ‘any preference for a party you don’t want’. On the contrary, the better strategy when voting in the Proportional Representation system is to vote for every candidate on the ballot, placing the ones you like least at the bottom. In this way, you give your top preference to your one or two or whatever number of favoured candidates. By continuing to vote down the line, your transfers will do their work to keep other candidates (to whom you might be indifferent) in the fight, thus piling the bodies on your least favoured candidates. In other words, you’re giving every candidate a chance to get elected before those you like the least.

    • Coops says:

      @Roisin “Green expertise in energy”. Don’t mistake dogma for expertise. The world needs nuclear energy and we’re going to get it through international interconnectors, but we’ll do the smug Irish thing of pretending we’re nuclear free. Also witness what a dogs dinner they made of the motor tax for those of us who bought clean cars before the tax break. We had our cars instantly devalued for doing the “right” thing while the celtic tiger suburban tractors went up in value for the same reason.

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