Belfast Telegraph

Poll delivers a massive vote of no confidence in Stormont politicians

BY LIAM CLARKE, POLITICAL EDITOR

Satisfaction with the performance of our Government at Stormont is poor by international standards and is steadily plummeting.

When we asked people to compare the record of the Northern Ireland Assembly to direct rule from Westminster, the net approval rating sank deep into minus figures at -59.9%.

In May 2012 LucidTalk asked the same question in a previous Belfast Telegraph poll.

Then the score was -40%.

At that time we pointed out that it was on a par with the Greek government which was in power when the country went bust and which had recently been annihilated in a general election.

"This is the sort of score which a politician could expect after being arrested on serious criminal charges," said Gerry Lynch, an analyst for LucidTalk.

Of those who expressed an opinion, more than two-thirds (66.3%) rated the Assembly's performance as either 'not very good' (the most common option at 41.8%) or 'very bad' (26.5%).

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Only 9.4% of those expressing an opinion rated the performance as 'excellent' or 'good', and this fell to 7.4% of the total sample.

The low opinion of the Assembly was fairly evenly spread across the age range, as 56.6% of 18-24 year-olds expressing an opinion rated it 'not very good' or 'very bad', an opinion shared by 55% of 25-44-year-olds and 54% above that age.

Men were somewhat more critical (58.6%) than women (50.6%), and Protestants (57.7%) were slightly more critical than Catholics (54%).

Last year the proportion who expressed a positive assessment was around 9%, a figure that has remained unchanged.

The worsening opinion seems to have arisen because people who were neutral or undecided in 2012 have now become actively disillusioned with Stormont's performance.

Most governments have lost support to some extent as a result of the recession, but Stormont fares very badly.

For instance in March, when there were fewer signs of economic recovery, an IPSOS/Mori poll gave the Scottish devolved parliament a positive approval rating of +12%.

At that point the Westminster Government had a minus approval – or satisfaction – rating of -41%, but that has improved to -28% this month, according to Mori.

This is similar to Barack Obama's approval rating on the economy, which stands at -27%.

Prime Minister David Cameron (left) has an approval rating of 20%, and Ed Miliband, the embattled Labour leader, stands at -36%.

Stormont's poor performance is underlined even further by the fact that the comparison is with direct rule from Westminster, which was itself regarded as both an unpopular and unresponsive method of government.

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