Satisfaction with Coalition falls
A simple explanation here could be the position of Labour on the Croke Park agreement, which is likely to be endorsed by professionals in the public sector, while at the same time alienating the working classes who may feel they do not enjoy the same level of protection.
It is early days yet, but today’s poll may be the first concrete sign that voters are allowing Fianna Fáil back into the game. A jump of four percentage points is statistically significant and is concentrated within the older age groups (50+), among whom Fianna Fáil still trail Fine Gael but are clear of the chasing pack. It makes sense that older voters, some of them with a tradition of voting Fianna Fáil, would be the first to switch. Younger voters may need more time.
Support for Sinn Féin has retreated from a high of 24 per cent in May to 20 per cent in our October poll. However, the party has achieved a rating in excess of 20 per cent in each poll conducted since April and amongst working-class voters Sinn Féin is the party of choice.
If Fianna Fáil is emerging as a viable option for disgruntled voters, it is just another indicator of voter disillusionment in today’s poll.
When we look more closely at the data we see that 53 per cent of combined Fine Gael/Labour voters (equating with 15 per cent of all voters) are not satisfied with the Government’s performance.
These conflicted voters either believe their party of preference is not having the influence in Government they had hoped for, or that their party is not making the right decisions but stick with them because they don’t see an alternative. It is probably a combination of both. Ultimately, voters will resolve this conflict at the next election.
The recent troika report highlighted the need for fairness to be achieved in how we manage the adjustment. Essentially, they were calling for leadership. They are asking the Government to make the right cuts, not the expedient ones.
Voters are also looking for leadership. With the exception of Eamon Ryan (up two points to 12 per cent) party leader satisfaction ratings have all dropped in recent months. Leaders’ satisfaction ratings, when combined, average just 25 per cent, comparable to the low of late 2010 when Ireland was bailed out and trust in our political leadership collapsed.
Bearing in mind the situation we find ourselves in and the pressure the Government is under, it is an achievement for Enda Kenny to be the most popular party leader (on 33 per cent amongst voters generally and 77 per cent within the Fine Gael base), but we have never had a situation before where the most popular party leader received the endorsement of just one-third of the electorate.
And when we add to this the finding that more than one-third (37 per cent) of voters are not satisfied with any leader, it is clear that voters are asking politicians to show more leadership.