Poll support for Independents ‘represents undecided vote’

Labour’s plummeting approval ratings reflect ‘public annoyance’ over Irish Water

Labour Ministers have said a surge in poll ratings for Independents represents an “undecided vote” in a political landscape that will change ahead of the next General Election. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

Labour Ministers have said a surge in poll ratings for Independents represents an “undecided vote” in a political landscape that will change ahead of the next General Election. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

 

Labour Ministers have said a surge in poll ratings for Independents represents an “undecided vote” in a political landscape they say will change significantly ahead of the next General Election.

“In this particular poll, Independents did particularly well. That is generally a vote for ‘not sure what I want to vote for’,” said Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan.

“When people start thinking about an actual election, they’ll be thinking about who is going to be running the country and what kind of Government we want. So I think that the figures will change significantly in that situation.

“The high vote for Independents is largely an undecided vote at this stage, a vote for ‘not a political party’,” she said, speaking at an event marking the completion of the Government’s broadband scheme in post-primary schools.

Speaking at the same event, fellow Labour Minister Alex White said his party’s plummeting approval ratings – down three points to 6 per cent – reflects a “public annoyance” over Government policies, particularly the Irish Water debacle.

“I can see the polls the same as everyone else, and I can see there’s a public annoyance at the controversy in relation to Irish Water ... We’re in the backwash from that, and I think that people were not happy in the way that entire issue was handled,” said Mr White.

“I think the Government has a serious grip on that now. The proposals that Minister Kelly brought are good ones, most of which will be put into legislation next week,” he added.

Despite comments from former Fine Gael strategy adviser Frank Flannery that Government parties have “until the end of March” to salvage their election prospects, Mr White maintains that his party has plenty of time to secure more support.

“We have a period of something of the order of a year and a half between now and the General Election. We have an enormous amount of work to do,” he said.

Results of an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll revealed Calition parties Fine Gael and Labour have suffered a cumulative drop in support of eight percentage points since October.

While the Fine Gael party languishes at its lowest rating since 2003, independents and smaller parties – whose support stands at 32 per cent – are enjoying a bounce in approval.