Thursday, 3 September 2009

Fianna Fail's lesson in unpopularity

If the PM is feeling sorry for himself, he might draw a moment's comfort that his position is not as bad as that of the once dominant Fianna Fail party and its hapless leader Brian Cowen in Ireland.

A poll in today's Irish Times puts Fianna Fail on just 17% of the vote, seven points behind Ireland's Labour Party and 17 points behind Fine Gael. Even worse, the FF-Green Coalition government has a net satisfaction rating of -74%, with even 50% of the died in the wool FF loyalists fed up with Cowen's performance. 75% of people want an election now, though unless the Greens pull the plug they are unlikely to get one.

Like Brown, Cowen was finance minister under his predecessor Bertie Ahern. But his truly appalling performances on TV and on public occasions make Brown seem like a supreme communicator. When I was in Ireland in August, I encountered an extraordinary degree of universal loathing there is for Fianna Fail and Cowen, where previously one would encounter as many supporters as detractors for the party.

But there is evidence eveywhere of the effects of the recession, from half-completed developments to bargains (at least in Irish terms) in the property market. Public servants have taken enforced pay cuts, and (probably quite sensible) government plans to set up a bad bank for the debts of Irish banks attract almost universal scepticism. I suggested some months ago that we might be seeing the death of Fianna Fail as the remarkable nationalist and populist force created by DeValera in 1926. This poll suggests the destiny of Dev's soldiers is to become Ireland's third party - if they're lucky.

UPDATE: The Greens are clearly getting jittery.

1 comment:

Ben said...

That was said of the Tories five years ago too. They'll be back.