Belfast Telegraph

Irish public backs coalition

Fine Gael and Labour set to rule while Fianna Fail is heading for humiliation

Fine Gael will fall just short of being able to head up a single-party government in the Republic, a new opinion poll reveals.

But Fianna Fail is heading for a complete meltdown in the 2011 Irish general election, with polling day just two days away.

Fine Gael and Labour are on track to form the next government with up to 115 seats in the next Dail, despite spending the past three weeks attacking each others' policies.

A Fine Gael and Labour coalition is the preferred option of the Irish public for the next government — well ahead of a Fine Gael overall majority.

Support for Fine Gael is on 38% — up one point since last weekend — putting Enda Kenny on track to become Taoiseach in a coalition with Eamon Gilmore.

Labour, on 20%, has stabilised after losing ground and will also make substantial gains, but the party has underperformed over the course of the campaign.

The poll findings came as Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore and Micheal Martin clashed in the final leaders' debate of the campaign last night.

Sinn Fein is on 11% of the vote, down one point, but putting it on track to more than double its seat numbers.

Independents on 16%, up two points, have held steady throughout the campaign.

The Green Party, on just 1% support, will struggle to win a single seat.

But Fianna Fail is down two points to 14%, reflecting a failure to spark a recovery.

The Irish Independent/Millward Brown Lansdowne poll figures are adjusted to take account of the 11% of ‘don't knows'.

Slightly more than one in 10 voters are still undecided, down from 15% last week, but among those who have made their decision, the trends remain the same.

If the current polling figures are replicated on election day, the party could be left with less than 20 seats. Mr Martin's party won't be able to bank on second-preference votes to save a number of TDs. When asked how they intend to transfer their vote, just 11% list Fianna Fail as their second-preference choice, compared to 21% for Fine Gael and 24% for Labour.

The Green Party gets 3% of second-preference votes and Sinn Fein 8%. Independents again figure strongly on transfers, taking 22% of second preferences.

The findings indicate if Fianna Fail candidates are not ahead on the first count, they won't climb up on subsequent counts.

Fianna Fail is struggling most of all in Dublin, where it is attracting just 10% of the vote — the same as Sinn Fein, which is only competitive in about half of constituencies. Fine Gael, on 35% in Dublin, is ahead of Labour, on 29%.

Fine Gael is also dominant in the rest of Leinster, Munster and Connacht-Ulster, where the party is placed to get almost one in every two votes cast.

Approval for party leaders has fluctuated again.

Ironically, the only leader not to have dropped in this latest poll is Mr Martin, who has gone up eight points, making him the most popular leader.

Leading political science expert, NUI Maynooth's Dr Adrian Kavanagh, said if the results of yesterday's opinion poll were repeated on polling day, Fianna Fail would be left with just 17 Dail seats. Fine Gael would capture a record 78 seats; Labour 37 TDs; Sinn Fein 14; and Independents 20 seats.

According to Dr Kavanagh's estimates, the Green Party would face a complete wipeout.

In terms of the preferred potential government, one in three would prefer a Fine Gael-Labour coalition, versus one in five wanting a Fine Gael majority.

Labour supporters are more enthusiastic about a coalition, and only one-in-five Fine Gael supporters want the party to win an overall majority.

The figures are compared to Millward Brown Lansdowne poll carried out for the Sunday Independent last weekend.

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