They won’t openly admit it but there is serious concern among the members of Fianna Fail regarding any further general elections for years to come. Over the last few elections held in Ireland, be they local elections or general elections, Fianna Fail has seen a serious decline in its polling numbers. The main culprit is Sinn Fein. All political parties and a lot of the public know this.
Where Fianna Fail was once considered to be a good deal representative of the lower to middle working class family unit of Ireland, this PR image and ideology of the party has fallen by the wayside in homes across Ireland. Sinn Fein is now considered largely by the working class to be more representative of them.
Fianna Fail are certainly not seen as representative of those living in hostels, hotels, bed and breakfasts, shelters, the heavy multiple tax burdened, many elderly, carers and more. People or subsequently, victims, that they have brought in hard hitting policies upon, affecting all or enabling Fine Gael to further hit them too, are staying away from giving Fianna Fail support through large vote numbers. They are certainly not seen to be representative of big business and farming community who look towards Fine Gael (although that’s reducing – to Sinn Fein’s rural gain).
NOTE: Sinn Fein in fact, have largely taken a lot of rural and urban support that the once powerful Labour party used to be able to muster at national level. Labour once able to muster decent poll numbers, largely destroyed themselves while in partnership with Fine Gael from 2011 onward. Not going into that whole matter here extensively, it’s enough to say that Sinn Fein stepped into the public’s eye as they deliberately shoved out of it, the Labour Party.
It is true to say that Fianna Fail is floundering – and they very much know it too. Their latest Dublin poll numbers puts them at a miserable 8% support level. Being truthful, most times when it comes to elections, whenever such poll numbers are quoted, they do slightly better – not much but slightly. That said, Fianna Fail know they are in for a serious beating in Dublin alone. For the rest of the country, they will be lucky to now draw double digit support numbers from many counties too.
Loss Of Identity.
It’s no small thing that Fianna Fail is floundering. This is not a matter that is going to be solved over night. For example, the once larger print quote on their posters and leaflets, now vastly reduced in font size, was “Fianna Fail, The Republican Party“. That slogan has become a recognised still running joke as Fianna Fail along with Fine Gael, the party they crazy keep enabling, persist in further giving away Ireland’s neutrality status bit by bit. For a self-called republican party to be also giving away more and more of Ireland’s country sovereign rights (and right of it’s individuals) over to a EU Brussels based governing body, further undermines it’s “Republican” claim. It’s no wonder over many elections that it’s been observed, the slogan has been font sized reduced dramatically on posters – or completely taken off.
Having lost the working class and those that wish Ireland to remain more self-governing abilities (rather than be seen jumping to EU dictates and handing them our mineral and fishing rights to boot), Fianna Fail once also had a serious following amid middle class communities. This too has fallen by the way side. In part, this is again down to Sinn Fein but it is also down to the likes of other smaller parties grabbing away at Fianna Fail’s identity floundering. The Greens as well as the Social Democrats and others, have each taken lumps out of Fianna Fail’s middle class poll numbers.
If you were to go out on a public street right now and ask members of the public, “Who today does Fianna Fail clearly represent in Ireland?” The answers gained back, it is accepted, would be all over the place.
Fine Gael is considered by many to be protective of the more wealthy, the elite that have self-imposed delusions of grandeur and of overall big business. Sinn Fein is considered to be more representative regarding the lower to middle classes a lot more, this last few years and Labour are considered now, just a spent force, trying to hang on by their fingertips. Other minor parties within the Dail are snapping at their heals.
Michael Martin’s Last Chance.
It’s only a matter of time before Mr Martin, the current leader of Fianna Fail, is replaced. If Mr Martin fails to get his party back into any government, he’s done for! It’s very likely he knows this. If his party is seen to be replaced by Sinn Fein, he’s done for – and he likely knows this. If he himself fails to gain any further government position, he’s done for – and he likely knows this. All these situations are about loss of face with the public for himself and worse as far as members are concerned, for their party!
The current ongoing talks about forming a government are likely Mr Martin’s last major political dance as a party leader. Upon any failure, he is doomed – and he likely knows this. Failure cannot be an option for him to accept. The drop in his own current party worth was clear to be seen by his last general voting numbers gained. Unlike a Sinn Fein leader who raced into office just one first preferences, Mr Martin had to scrape into the Dail via using sixth placed preferences. At a personal level, very humbling and a clear indication a major drop of public support – and his fellow party members will be all too aware of this as they know they more need a charismatic and more wanted leader, for the next general election.
In order to save face, show that he’s still effective and try hang onto even his own party position, he needs a win of some kind. His gambit of trying to get back into power with Fine Gael, the party he repeatedly stated was bad for government, not good for real change and who he previously repeated stated, his party wouldn’t be going into government with, is confusing his own members besides also leaving them with feelings of betrayal and disappointment. Much of the public feel the same way.
There now exists a serious split within the party regarding if they should be joining up with Fine Gael again with Mr Martin’s public seen backtracking and confusing u-turning. If he fails to gain office, he will be the first leader of Fianna Fail never to have gained a Taoiseach position. If he gains government office, he will likely have to let Leo Varadkar, third placed party winner, go ahead of him and be Taoiseach first. more humiliation.
Time is not just running out for Mr Martin but for Fianna Fail also. Be it from a government formed setup care of the 2020 general election or another one within a year, if Fianna Fail fail to gain government power, they too will be perceived like Labour as another spent force. It’s highly likely they know this. If there is any possibility of Fianna Fail gaining government office as Fine Gael continues to quiely play games with it, using them too to their own ends, it is towards Sinn Fein that the party must look. However, Mr Martin has not helped his party here by repeat stating he’s excluding Sinn Fein and their 500,000+ voters.
Major humiliating backtracking will have to happen and major PR u-turn excuses will have to be invented by Mr Martin, for Fianna Fail to go into coalition with Sinn Fein as long as he remains in charge – and it’s likely many of his party members know it! If he was no longer leader, a political door would be wider opened and the party would face far less public seen humiliation.
It’s likely many of Fianna Fail’s own members know this. Will Mr Martin resign as leader before he is pushed, prior to any further general election, remains to be seen. As much as he wants his party to gain a win, he likely knows he, himself, really needs some kind of win too, in order to stay in charge. There is a serious clock in Fianna Fail ticking down to a result of some kind. Fine Gael and other parties are also too aware of this whole situation.
The Next General Election.
Looking at not just the latest polling numbers but ones previous, it’s clear Sinn Fein and to some extent, Fine Gael, will do well. Fianna Fail not so. Other parites will cling on to a few seats. The Greens have yet to go onto government again with Fine Gael but it’s though they will do well again – if they at least don’t back Fine Gael and a Fianna Fail government setup.
NOTE: If they do, this could be disaster for them from the perspective of being seen to help return a third placed party to power and bringing back a party that will likely create any new, much needed, fundamental changes to Irish society. The Greens being seen to bring back any party that itself breaks laws at home, internationally and a human rights treaty, is not good PR for them with the public. Their decision if to back Fine Gael, is still being played out. The Greens have their own internal party spit on this matter.
Where there is more uncertainty, is in the area of Independents! Some have been seen to be failures. Some are considered semi-successful. Some have been considered untrustworthy as they later joined others when they thought they were onto a ‘good thing’. It’s more uncertain exactly how Independents will do overall at the next general election. What is more certain is that Fianna Fail, unless there is a dramatic serious PR win or serious undermining, attack upon Fine Gael (many are sick and tired – it’s old news – of FF taking pot-shots at SF and getting nowhere), then the next general election biggest possible loser will again be Fianna Fail.
Fine Gael most certainly is aware of this as they continue to yank Fianna Fail’s chain – and a lot of the pubic is seeing this happen and play out as Fianna Fail tags along – or is currently perceived to be by many in Ireland. Fianna Fail becoming Fine Gael enablers yet again (Green Party take note), will do them no positive favours for the next general election.
20 year barman. Re-educated as an I.T. professional, website creator, I.T teacher, digital media management & marketing professional. Studied accountancy, taxation, business management & law. Founder of UnitedPeople political party – click here. Previously the first National Chairman of Direct Democracy Ireland (DDI) & founder of the Louth branch of DDI. Author. Regular contributor to social media. TV & radio guest experiences. Appeared in the Oireachtas & Dublin Highcourts to defend the rights of citizens along with exposing many wrongs. Consistently seeks greater democracy & accountability from all elected levels of Ireland. Currently writing two books, non-fiction “Life Behind Bars” & “Better Tomorrows“.