The Irish Times view on the European election opinion poll: a close contest ahead

Voter volatility over the course of a campaign has become a feature of the political landscape

With less than three weeks to go until the European Parliament elections, today’s Irish Times Ipsos/ B&A poll of voting intentions suggests an intriguing and closely fought race lies ahead.

If the poll’s findings were to be replicated on June 7th, then the three major parties could be reasonably confident of winning at least one seat apiece in each of the three constituencies. That would leave five seats in the balance. But even that prediction is far from assured, given that many voters will only now be starting to familiarise themselves with the field of candidates. And, as the recent referendums demonstrated, voter volatility over the course of a campaign has become a feature of the political landscape.

With an unprecedented 73 candidates contesting the 14 seats, transfer patterns could be decisive in determining the final two seats in each of Dublin, South and Midlands North-West. The poll indicates that two sitting Independent MEPS, Clare Daly in Dublin and Mick Wallace in South, are in danger of losing their seats. The same is true of the Green Party’s Grace O’Sullivan in South. Her party colleague Ciaran Cuffe is also in peril in Dublin, although he remains in the running and will be competing for the same centre-left voters as Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who puts in a strong showing. In Midlands North-West, Independent Ireland’s Ciaran Mullooley is in contention.

Sinn Féin had a disastrous result in 2019 and the party looks well positioned to regain the two seats it lost then. But no more than that. Twelve months ago this might have been seen as a disappointment; given the party’s recent slide in popularity, it would probably be deemed satisfactory.


For Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, the difference between success and disappointment may be determined by the effectiveness of the decisions they have already made on candidate selection, geographical positioning and vote management. The unwieldy constituencies of South and Midlands North-West are not conducive to traditional party discipline, as Fianna Fáil discovered to its cost in 2019. But one thing is certain: the final results, when confirmed, will have a significant bearing on thinking within the two larger Government parties on the appropriate timing of the general election.

Despite speculation that these elections would signal the emergence of anti-immigrant or far-right parties , there is limited evidence of that so far, although the local elections could tell a different story. What is clear, though, is that lot of votes are spread among candidates who are a long way off an electoral quota. Whether these coalesce around a smaller number of front-runners as election day approaches remains to be seen. There is a lot to play for before polling stations open in 20 days’ time.