Fine Gael and Labour supporters back bailout and EU

Sat, Dec 18, 2010, 00:00

ANALYSIS:Sinn Féin voters oppose the EU-IMF aid package and the European Union and believe sovereignty has been surrendered

THERE ARE fascinating fault lines across the political parties on the issues of the EU-IMF bailout, Irish sovereignty and the benefits of being in the European Union, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

Fianna Fáil voters back the bailout and the EU, and believe Ireland’s sovereignty has not been surrendered.

Fine Gael and Labour voters, who share identical views on these issues, support the bailout and the EU but do believe Irish sovereignty has been surrendered.

The third major category are Sinn Féin voters who oppose the bailout and the EU and believe strongly that Irish sovereignty has been surrendered.

The small number of Green voters are more inclined to the Sinn Féin view than that of Fianna Fáil while Independent and small party supporters have mixed views on the issues.

There is also a huge difference in social class on the issues, with the better-off AB voters strongly backing the bailout and the EU while the poorest DE social category is the most hostile.

In terms of party support the breakdown on the question of whether the bailout is welcome or not is: Fianna Fáil voters 74 per cent yes, 14 per cent no; Fine Gael 53 per cent yes, 39 per cent no; Labour 52 per cent yes, 40 per cent no; Sinn Féin 28 per cent yes and 60 per cent no; Green Party 34 per cent yes, 58 per cent no; Ind/Others, 54 per cent yes, 43 per cent no.

On the question as to whether Ireland has surrendered its sovereignty the breakdown is: among Fianna Fáil voters the response is 30 per cent yes, 58 per cent no; Fine Gael 55 per cent yes and 37 per cent no; Labour 59 per cent yes, 36 per cent no, Sinn Féin 79 per cent yes, 13 per cent no; Green Party 83 per cent yes, 17 per cent no; Ind/Others 64 per cent yes, 29 per cent no.

When asked if it was better to be part of the European Union the same pattern emerged.

Among Fianna Fáil voters 87 per cent said it was better to be in the EU with just 9 per cent saying it was not. Fine Gael and Labour voters gave identical responses, with 77 per cent of both sets of party supporters in favour and 17 per cent against in each case.

Sinn Féin supporters presented a different picture, with 53 per cent saying it was better not to be part of the EU and 36 per cent in favour.

Green voters were for the EU by 50 per cent to 34 per cent while Ind/Others were for by a much more substantial 75 per cent to 19 per cent.

The attitudes to the bailout, sovereignty and Europe reflect the gulf between the views held by supporters of the three main political parties and Sinn Féin.

The poll reveals that the attitude of Fine Gael and Labour supporters on these important issues is close. Significantly, there is a wide difference between the views of Labour Party supporters and those of Sinn Féin.

It puts the commentary about a united left front involving Labour, Sinn Féin and far-left groups into perspective as the poll shows Labour supporters have much more in common with Fine Gael voters than Sinn Féin voters. Fine Gael and Labour voters have almost identical views on the Budget with 69 per cent of Labour voters and 70 per cent of Fine Gael saying it was unfair. Sinn Féin voters are even stronger in that belief with 85 per cent saying it was unfair.

Fianna Fáil voters are out of step with all other party supporters, with 53 per cent of them saying it was broadly fair. Green Party voters and supporters of Ind/Others said it was unfair.

There was a divergence between Fine Gael and Labour voters on their respective party strategies about the proportion of spending cuts to tax increases in the Budget. Half of Fine Gael voters backed their own party’s line that it should be 75 per cent cuts, but half supported the Labour strategy of an equal split between cuts and taxes.

Among Labour voters 50 per cent backed their own party line but 29 per cent of them supported the line taken by Fine Gael.

On this issue Fianna Fáil voters were closest to Fine Gael with a majority of them backing the emphasis on spending cuts.

On whether an alternative Fine Gael-Labour coalition would have done a better job on the Budget Fine Gael voters were considerably more enthusiastic with 63 per cent of them saying the alternative would have done a better job compared to 47 per cent of Labour supporters who took that view.