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Don’t Rule Out Second General Election In 2016

Government After Next Election

Outright Betting

Three opinion polls this weekend and there was a fair degree of variation in the support levels they each gave the main four political parties.

Polls Don’t Lie
Fine Gael were down 2 points to 27% in the Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll but up two to 31% with the Sunday Business Post/Red C. Since last week The Sunday Times’ Behaviour & Attitudes poll had them down 3 to 28%.

With Fianna Fáil, the variation was even higher. It was just 17% with Red C, but 22% with Millward Brown – that would be a big difference seats wise.

Labour understandably were keen to focus on the 10% it got with Red C for the second straight week, and not the 6% with Millward Brown. Again, the difference between the two results cannot be overstated.

Sinn Féin will be happy with its 17-21% range but the question is can it hold that support on Election Day? I think it will be a struggle given the party generally underperforms its poll ratings.

But while there is considerable variation between the three polls, they all point to the same conclusion:

Unless the coalition’s support levels pick up pretty substantially between now and polling day, the Government won’t be close to being returned to office.

Even taking the Red C poll, which is the strongest from the Coalition’s point of view, 31% doesn’t get FG much beyond 55 seats (if at all), while 10%, at most, gets Labour 15 seats. That’s still eight or nine seats short. They’ll be 20-plus short if you go by the Sunday Independent poll.

The two saving graces for the government is that there’s still a long way to go before polling – its best hope is that voters in the final days will swing back to the ‘devil they know’ – and that there isn’t the remotest sign of an alternative government emerging.

Fine Gael Are Safe
It still looks certain to be Fine Gael and any other or others.

One small worry for FG though was the finding in the Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll that only one in three voters believed that a change in government would put economic stability at risk. It also found that half believed a change of government would help create a ‘fairer society’.

That suggests that the Government’s attempt to portray the election as a choice between ‘stability’ (FG/Labour) or ‘chaos’ (FF and/or SF) isn’t taking hold. It also suggests Fianna Fáil’s decision to go after Fine Gael on the issue of fairness might prove fertile ground.

On the plus side for Fine Gael, the polls and lacklustre start to its campaign should combine to snap the party out of any sense of complacency its senior figures may have been feeling. It is still in the driving seat but any more crunching of the gears, like we had on Thursday and Friday, and the party might be in trouble.

Right now, BoyleSports’ 7/2 odds of a second general election in 2016 might be worth a second look.

As would its offer of 9/1 on a combination of FG/Labour/Social Democrats and any others.

Keep An Eye On
Former Roscommon goalkeeper/legend Shane Curran has entered the race for Fianna Fáil in Roscommon Galway and he has the potential to really shake up the field. It had looked certain that Fine Gael’s Maura Hopkins would join Independents Denis Naughten and Michael Fitzmaurice in the Dáil. But Curran’s entry gives FF a real chance of taking a seat in the constituency. He’s already priced at just 6/4. Hopkins, at 3/10, remains favourite for that final seat but this could be interesting.

Value Bets
He has been written off by most pundits but my sources insist that Terence Flanagan – once of FG, now Renua – is not out of it in Dublin Bay North due to his prodigious work rate in the constituency. He’s priced at 2/1.

Labour Minister Alex White at 7/4 in Dublin Rathdown looks like much better value to me than FG’s Josepha Madigan at 1/3. Unless Mary White of FF can cause a surprise, it’s probably between the two of them for the final seat and Alex White may just have the edge. Meanwhile, Michael Lowry at 5/2 to get the most votes in the country still has a bit of value.

*Prices correct at time of publication