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Fianna Fáil meltdown imminent

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Fianna Fáil meltdown imminent


Edwin McGrealEdwin McGreal

FIANNA Fáil look set for a local election meltdown. With this government’s disapproval ratings extremely high, the backlash looks like it will be felt by the main government party in the local elections in Mayo on Friday.
That’s according to The Mayo News Online Election Poll which examined current voter preferences for the local and European elections and contrasted them with their previous preferences. The results make for stark reading for Fianna Fáil and very pleasant reading for the main national opposition party, Fine Gael.
The Enda Kenny led party are the strongest party in the county at present with three out of five TD’s and fifteen out of the 31 councillors on Mayo County Council.
But they are set to make even further gains, at the expense of Fianna Fáil, according to our poll.
A figure of 29.26% of respondents say they have previously voted for Fianna Fáil but only 17.07% say that they will vote for the main government party this time around, a shocking fall of over 12%. Not one single person who labelled themselves as a non Fianna Fáil voter in previous elections indicated that they would switch towards voting for Fianna Fáil this time around.
Fine Gael were closely matched to Fianna Fáil in terms of previous preferences - on 26.83% - but they have stormed into a very healthy lead ahead of the local elections, 36.58% of voters polled say they will vote Fine Gael for the local elections on Friday.
If those figures hold up Fianna Fáil will be set for a near meltdown at the count centre in the TF in Castlebar on Saturday.
What might interest members of FF is that there are still 9.76% of voters undecided. But it is hard to imagine a sizeable amount of those voting for Fianna Fáil on the day.
Independents and Labour both stand to gain on previous performances, but not to anything like the extent Fine Gael do.
Labour, who are running five candidates in Mayo, are up from 7.3% to 9.81% while Independents are slightly higher, at 9.92%, from 6.89%. It is Independents, too, who can often benefit from the undecided votes.
Sinn Féin are remaining constant, at a little bit under 5%. They are running four candidates in Mayo.
The poll also indicates that interest levels among the youth vote may be higher than people perceive. Of those who responded 74.5% are in the age bracket of 18-34 years of age and are all very much engaged with politics.
The figure of people who won’t be voting is at 9.7% but all of these respondents are unable to vote due to not being in Mayo on Friday, not for reasons of apathy.
Not all people feel that local government plays a big role in their lives but a huge amount of people believe their right to vote is hugely important.
One of the most interesting and absolute series of answers to a question on our poll were the replies to ‘Do you think that the present economic situation, and the government’s handling of it, will strongly influence people’s voting patterns in this election’?
A whopping total of 85.37% of respondents agreed that the government’s handling of the current crisis will influence people’s voting patterns.
One Castlebar based first time voter clearly feels the backlash is deserved.
“In bad times the people usually go against the party in power. But in this case they’re right, this current government have made too many mistakes and can’t be re-elected.”
A Westport female, although not a Fianna Fáil voter, argues that there is not a lot Brian Cowen and the Fianna Fáil led government could have done differently.
“Yes, the current economic situation will impact strongly on voting patterns, but I don’t think it should. With the exception of maybe Eamon Gilmore, I think the most qualified and able person is Taoiseach at the moment and I honestly think that others would not, in the same situation, have done much differently.”