SF now second most popular party


Sinn Féin is now the second most popular party in the Republic, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

The survey reveals a substantial increase in support for the party on the back of Martin McGuinness’s presidential election campaign.

Sinn Féin is now narrowly ahead of the Labour Party and Fianna Fáil, with the party attracting almost the same support as Mr McGuinness.

However, Fine Gael retains a commanding lead over all parties, despite the poor showing of presidential candidate Gay Mitchell. And Taoiseach Enda Kenny remains the most popular political leader in the Republic.

When people were asked who they would vote for if a general election were to be held tomorrow, the figures for party support – when undecided voters are excluded – compared with the last Irish Times poll on July 20th were: Fine Gael, 35 per cent (down three points); Labour, 17 per cent (down one point); Fianna Fáil, 16 per cent (down two points); Sinn Féin, 18 per cent (up eight points); Green Party, 2 per cent (no change); and Independents/Others, 12 per cent (down two points).

The survey was undertaken on Monday and Tuesday of this week among a representative sample of 1,000 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all 43 constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent.

The core vote for the parties (before undecided voters are excluded) compared with the last Irish Times poll was: Fine Gael, 29 per cent (down one point); Labour, 13 per cent (down one point); Fianna Fáil, 13 per cent (down one point); Sinn Féin, 14 per cent (up six points); Green Party, 2 per cent (up one point); Independents/Others, 10 per cent (down one point); and undecided voters, 19 per cent (down three points).

The advance in Sinn Féin support to almost twice that which it achieved in the February general election is the most dramatic change in party support. Sinn Féin is strongest among men and poorer voters and weakest among women and better-off voters.

The contrast between its level of support among the different sexes is startling, with 28 per cent of men backing the party compared with just 11 per cent of women.

The other three big parties have all declined since the last poll.

Fine Gael dropped three points but it is the leading party in the State and has consolidated its position as the leading party in Dublin.

Labour Party support has dipped marginally, despite the good showing of presidential candidate Michael D Higgins. The party continues to do well in Dublin where it is well ahead of Sinn Féin, but it has slipped in the rest of Leinster and Connacht-Ulster.

Fianna Fáil has also declined. The party continues to fare badly in the capital – a long-term worry given it has no TDs in Dublin.

Support for Independents and smaller parties has also slipped.

The Green Party remains on just 2 per cent and leader Eamon Ryan is having difficulty making an impact from outside the Dáil.

In line with the modest drop in support for the Coalition parties, satisfaction with the Government has also declined marginally, as has satisfaction with the Taoiseach. Mr Kenny is down two points since July, with a 51 per cent satisfaction rating.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore is in second place, with a 42 per cent rating. He is also down two points.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has dropped nine points to 28 per cent. This follows the confusion over the party’s presidential election strategy.

The five-point increase in Gerry Adams’s rating to 36 per cent clearly owes a lot to Sinn Féin’s impact on the presidential election campaign. It may also be a response to the party’s aggressive performance in the Dáil.

Mr Gilmore today insisted Labour Party support is holding steady. Mr Gilmore said  Labour support had been maintained since going into power with Fine Gael and remains around the record February election result.“We are in a margin of error of what we got in the general election, which was our best ever result,” the Tanaiste said. “There isn’t going to be a general election for four-and-a-half years and at this stage of the match this Government is not looking up at the scoreboard, we are concentrated on doing our job.”