Voters back Government on bailout exit strategy

FG voters the most positive on exit, Sinn Féin voters the most negative

Ajai Chopra of the International Monetary Fund. Asked whether they believed the regime imposed by the EU-IMF had a positive or negative effect on the country there was an almost even split among those polled. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Ajai Chopra of the International Monetary Fund. Asked whether they believed the regime imposed by the EU-IMF had a positive or negative effect on the country there was an almost even split among those polled. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Fri, Dec 13, 2013, 01:00

The bulk of the Irish electorate regards this weekend’s exit from the EU-IMF bailout as something of real significance but voters have a measured view about the issues surrounding it, according to the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

While a majority of voters believe the Government has handled the exit the right way they are also happy that there will be continuing supervision of the Irish budgetary process at EU level.

There are evenly divided views about whether the troika had a positive or negative impact on the country but a majority believes the Irish economy will improve in the aftermath of the bailout.

The Government’s message about the importance of exiting the bailout has clearly got through to the public, with 82 per cent of voters aware Ireland is due to exit the programme.

Among the best-off – AB – voters that figure rises to 93 per cent and is 92 per cent among all of the over-65s.

By contrast the figure drops to 70 per cent among the poorest – DE – social category and it is down to 56 per cent among the 18-to-24-year-olds, with 38 per cent of that group unaware it is taking place.

The lack of knowledge among the 18-to-24-year-old age bracket is repeated on almost all the bailout questions. That begs the question about why the Government appears intent on lowering the voting age in a referendum next year.


Sophisticated appreciation
On the implications of the bailout exit for sovereignty, voters showed a sophisticated appreciation of what it means, with 12 per cent saying it would mean a full restoration of sovereignty, 42 per cent saying it would be partially restored, 28 per cent saying it would not be restored and 18 per cent having no opinion.

Middle-class voters were most inclined to say it would not mean the restoration of full sovereignty but would mean partial sovereignty. Again the youngest voters appeared to know least, with 39 per cent of the 18-to-24-year-olds having no opinion, compared with just 13 per cent of the over-65s who had no opinion.

Fine Gael voters were by far the most positive on the issue and Sinn Féin voters the most negative.

One of the most intriguing findings in the poll was the response to a question asking who deserved the most credit for Ireland’s exit from the bailout. It is important to point out that voters were not prompted in their response but allowed to come up with their own answer.

It is probably no surprise that the Irish people/workers came out in first place, with 38 per cent of respondents giving them the credit for the exit. What is surprising is that second place went to Fine Gael, with 16 per cent of people giving the party most credit.


Credit to Labour
In fact Fine Gael came well ahead of the current Government, which came in third place with 9 per cent. Worryingly for the junior Coalition party less than 1 per cent of people gave credit to Labour although it is likely that at least some of those opting for the Government would have included the party in their response.

Fianna Fáil was mentioned by 2 per cent of voters as deserving most credit, with the EU, the IMF and Irish politicians in general getting the same rating.

Asked whether they believed the regime imposed by the EU-IMF had a positive or negative effect on the country there was an almost even split: 36 per cent said it was positive, 38 per cent said negative, 11 per cent said no impact and 15 per cent had no opinion.

Ironically in view of the fact that Fine Gael gets such credit for the bailout, the party’s supporters were by far the most enthusiastic about the impact of the troika with a majority of two to one saying the impact was positive.

Sinn Féin supporters were at the opposite end of the spectrum, with a two-to-one majority saying the troika’s impact had been negative.

The continuing monitoring of budgets in Ireland and other member states by the EU also drew more enthusiastic support from Fine Gael voters than from those of any other party, with Sinn Féin voters the least enthusiastic.

There was support for the Government’s decision to exit the bailout without a precautionary credit line, with 49 per cent approving of it, 24 per cent opposed and 27 per cent having no opinion.

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