‘Irish Times’/IpsosMRBI opinion poll findings highlight missed opportunities
Coalition parties have failed to exploit their advantages relating to importance of the economy and preferred options on government formation
As voting intentions point in the direction of a hung Dáil, the outcome most favoured by the electorate would see the return of a Fine Gael/Labour Party coalition with support, if required, from Independents, according to the latest Irish Times/IpsosMRBI opinion poll. Some way behind, a Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael government is the second most favoured option and attracts 43 per cent Fianna Fáil support as against 23 per cent from Fine Gael. That is followed by an arrangement involving Sinn Féin/Independents and Others.
Fine Gael is considered, by a considerable margin, to be best at delivering a successful economy and almost 90 per cent regard the economy as being a “very” or “fairly” important election issue. In addition, two-thirds of voters anticipate that a hung Dáil would be bad for the economy. On those grounds alone, the Government parties have failed to exploit their advantages in relation to the importance of the economy and preferred options on government formation.
With four days remaining until voting takes place, tonight’s televised debate involving party leaders could have a decisive impact on voter intentions. As Fianna Fáil has risen in the polls, Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny are now equally favoured for the position of Taoiseach. At the same time, Sinn Féin’s decline has seen its supporters look to Independents and Others as the most favoured coalition partners.
Doorstep issues, such as repeal of the 8th amendment to the Constitution to allow for abortion in cases of rape and fatal foetal abnormality, along with retention of the Special Criminal Court, attract almost two-thirds of popular support. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil voters are most resistant to Constitutional change while Labour party followers are most strongly in favour. Fine Gael supporters are most committed to retention of the Special Criminal Court and, in spite of Sinn Féin’s formal policy of abolition and repeal the Offences Against the State Act, a majority of its supporters who expressed a preference wish to retain the Special Court.