- Fianna Fail 27 (-15)
- Fine Gael 34 (+11)
- Labour 14 (-1)
- Sinn Fein 8 (+0)
- Greens 4 (-1)
- Independents 13 (+7)
"The level of dissatisfaction with the Government is now a massive 76 per cent, while 61 per cent of people are dissatisfied with the way Mr Cowen is doing his job.Satisfaction with the Government is now just 18 per cent, a drop of 28 points since the last Irish Times poll in June, while satisfaction with Taoiseach Brian Cowen has fallen to 26 per cent, a drop of 21 points." The poll puts Fine Gael ahead of Fianna Fáil for the first time ever in an Irish Times opinion survey.
Source: Irish Times
Whilst all polls are just a snapshot in time this particularly survey is sure to shock even the most ardent FF and Green Party supporters. Unpopular government decisions on the medical card for over 70s and severe education and agricultural cutbacks have sapped popular support for the government. Unemployment in Ireland has reached a 10 year high of 6.7 percent and has grown by 60 percent over the past year to more than 250,000. The decision to defer the cervical cancer vaccination programme for young girls has further angered voters.
With a deficit projected at 7% more unpopular cutbacks and rises in unemployment are in the offing. Can the government withstand the inevitable outcry, which will ensue? The next general election is not due until 2012. Ireland faces at least two very difficult years on the economic front. Next year it is anticipated that unemployment may reach 350,000. This will further strain government financial resources whilst efforts must continue to bring the deficit down below the 3% level required by the EU.
In any general election situation FF support would quickly rise to 40%. Much of the support lost to FG would probably return. FF supporters have an amazing capacity to rally behind their party.
FG has benefited strongly in this poll. However the party must learn to consolidate this rise in support. Richard Bruton -FG spokesman on finance- has starred in the economic debates and the party has benefited accordingly.
Labour Party support is also well up on its general election showing in 2007.
The poll is a warning to the Green Party that its support has begun to wane. Indeed the Greens may become the new PDs. The PDs acted as FFs mudguard and have now voted themselves out of existence. The Green Party is trapped. If it pulls down the Government the electorate will hammer it in any ensuing election. If it remains in government it must tolerate more unpalatable measures. FG and Labour can now mop up Green Party support.