Sunday 13th February 2011
Ireland’s general election is due on 25th February. Increasingly the newspapers are talking about opposition party Fine Gael gaining an overall majority. To do so they will need to win 84 seats, currently they have 51 seats.
The latest opinion poll by The Sunday Business Post/Red C puts Fine Gael on 38% (+3), the Labour Party on 20% (-2) and Fianna Fáil (the current governing party) on 15% (-2).
Others include Sinn Féin on 10% (-3), The Greens on 3% (+1) and Independents on 14% (+3).
Independent observers say that 40% would need to be reached for Fine Gael to get an absolute majority, something they have never achieved.
When Fine Gael has governed in past governments they have done so in coalition with Labour. However, an increasingly bitter war of words between the two sides this week and an ever more confident Fine Gael may mean that the next Dáil will be very different.
Both Fine Gael and Labour have said that they will renegotiate the bailout deal with the European Union and IMF which was put into place by the current government. Fine Gael are also talking about a referendum on constitutional change taking place later this year.
The main talking point over the past week was the refusal of Enda Kenny, the Fine Gael leader, to take part in a televised debate. Instead he chose to undertake a town hall meeting in Co Leitrim. Mr Kenny is reportedly poor at television performances and is said to have had difficulties with the chairman of the show.
The new Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin and Labour’s leader Eamon Gilmore, did attend the debate and Mr Martin is said to have won by a narrow margin.
Fianna Fáil look increasingly as though their tally of seats will fall from the current 77 to around 30 seats. If Fianna Fáil lose this election it will end their 13 years in government.