Tuesday 28th January
Election Blog 3
There are 10 days of campaigning to go yet and to be honest it has pretty uninspiring stuff so far. So where are the main parties as we have a circuit to go as it were in the race to Leinster House?
Fine Gael: It would appear that the party are losing support although Leo Varadkar did well in the debate on Monday night. The problems that they have had with regard and to Housing and Health are overshadowing the success that they have had with regard to Brexit and Northern Ireland. At this stage are poised to lose 6 to 8 seats and will end up behind Fianna Fail.
Fianna Fail: It looks likely that the party are set for a gain of about 10 seats. But they are vulnerable to accusations of being the party that bankrupted the country by the others. Micheal Martin has bided his time and now he has a chance to become Taoiseach. But there is a nagging feeling that he has made a mistake being too adamant that he will not go into Government with Fine Gael or Sinn Fein. That could mean that Fianna Fail could be the biggest party after the poll but still might end up in opposition.
Sinn Fein: There is a lot of snobbery about the electoral chances of Sinn Fein who are set for their best election in many decades. Of course there are legacy issues that Mary Lou McDonald and her party cannot escape, and persistent accusations that the Ard Comhlaire are running the party are not helping their cause. That having being said I have a feeling that they will increase their seat haul by four or five and will end up with 27 or 28. It will put them in a very strong position when it comes to the formation of a Government.
The Greens: The climate emergency means that the wind is at the backs of the party and they are set to increase their seat numbers from 2 to 8 or even 10. They are unlikely to take too many seats in rural Ireland but they will make gains in urban areas and that will put them in a strong position in any coalition talks.
Labour: I felt sorry for Brendan Howlin in the debate on Monday night. He argued passionately but you got the feeling that he was ’yesterday’s man’ and he and Roisin Shortall sounded exactly the same when it came to policies. It looks like Sinn Fein have stolen the clothes of Labour when it comes to the centre/left.
Social Democrats: Unlikely to make any major gains as, in common with the Labour Party, they are in a very crowded centre-left place.
AAA/PPP: There are six outgoing TD’s here and there is certainly a ‘far left’ constituency out there for the likes of Paul Murphy and Ruth Coppinger but it’s confined to urban areas and Dublin in particular.
The Others: There are 23 Independents of various hues and there may be a few casualties here but the likes of the Healy/Rae’s, Michael Fitzmaurice, Boxer Moran, Dennis Naughten, Michael Lowry and Mattie McGrath will be back again.
We will have a go at a prediction next week.