The Irish Times view on the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll: a sign that public patience is limited
The standing of the three-party coalition is solid but declining
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan at Dublin Castle last month. Photograph: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
The standing of the three-party coalition does not compare to the stellar heights achieved by its predecessor in June but it is reasonably solid in spite of a succession of controversies and gaffes, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll, which shows that satisfaction with Government has dropped from 72 per cent in the last poll to 48 per cent now. This is still the second highest rating achieved by any government for more than 10 years.
While Taoiseach Micheál Martin has seen a slippage of seven points to 39 per cent in his rating since June it could have been worse given the torrid time he has had since then. He will be heartened that 75 per cent of Fianna Fáil supporters expressed satisfaction with his leadership despite sustained criticism from some senior members of his party.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is down 10 points to 65 per cent but he remains the most popular party leader by a considerable margin. The news is not so good for Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, who is down 13 points since June to 27 per cent. That fall corresponds with a massive drop in support for his party, which is down from 12 per cent to just 4 per cent.
Fine Gael will be happy with its 35 per cent rating. While it is down two points since June it remains the biggest party in the State and participation in coalition is clearly a plus. Varadkar’s satisfaction rating of over 90 per cent among Fine Gael supporters indicates that the controversy over Phil Hogan’s resignation has done him no harm.
The 17 per cent rating for Fianna Fáil represents an increase of three points since June and indicates that further gains can be made if the party can demonstrate competence in government. For the Greens, though, the massive drop is an early sign that it faces a huge battle to retain support while being in office.
The exact opposite is the case for Sinn Féin. The increase of four points to 29 per cent shows that opposition is the place to be when it comes to building popular support. Satisfaction with Mary Lou McDonald is down marginally but she is still the second most popular party leader after Varadkar. Labour too may be beginning to benefit from Opposition, with its support doubling to 4 per cent. It has a long way to go to recover its former standing but at least the movement is in the right direction.
Another finding in the poll is that voters, by a small majority, think the country is on the right track but there are divided views as to whether the Government is making enough progress or whether it is time for a change of direction. The overall message is the public is prepared to give the Government a chance but its patience should not be tested.