Fianna Fáil faces meltdown but Rainbow won't have the numbers

The most recent poll in the Sunday Business Post may have boosted spirits in Fine Gael and Labour, but the average of all published opinion polls since the last election still shows none of the coalition options being offered to the electorate would win an overall majority. By Colin Murphy

The most recent opinion polls have done little to alter the average result of each of the parties in polls since the last general election. Fianna Fáil's substantial decline on its 2002 election performance is confirmed: it is down from 41.5 per cent to 34.7 per cent. Fine Gael has improved only marginally on what was a disastrous election performance, from 22.5 per cent to 23.0 per cent.

The Labour Party has claimed almost three percentage points, from 10.8 per cent in the 2002 election to an average poll rating of 13.6 per cent. Sinn Féin has made significant gains, from 6.5 per cent in 2002 to an average poll rating of 9.9 per cent.

The Green Party has also made gains, from 3.9 per cent to 4.9 per cent, although the margin of error in polling means that these figures are less reliable than those for the larger parties. The Progressive Democrats' average level of support in polls since 2002 has been 4.2 per cent, up from an election performance of 4.0 per cent.

This analysis is based on an average of all the polls published since 2002. This cannot be regarded as an authoritative guide to the state of the parties at present, but the polls do show trends – the most significant of which is the decline in support for Fianna Fáil. Were this to be replicated in the general election expected in 2007, the party would lose more than ten seats – it won 81 seats in 2002.

Another obvious trend is that Fine Gael has not made any significant recovery from its disastrous performance in 2002, when it won 22.5 per cent. In the previous election in 1997, Fine Gael won 28.0 per cent of the vote and, going back to November 1982, it won 39.2 per cent. Nevertheless, even with a modest improvement in its share of the votes, it should secure a significant gain in seats.

These averages are calculated on the basis of 13 TNS MRBI polls in the Irish Times, seven Millward Brown IMS polls in the Irish Independent, the Sunday Independent and the Sunday Tribune, and 12 Red C polls in the Sunday Business Post.

Coalition options

Totaling the average support levels for the various, hypothetical coalition options gives the following:

• Fianna Fáil and the PDs: 38.9 per cent

• Fine Gael and Labour: 36.6 per cent.

• Fine Gael, Labour and the Green Party: 41.5 per cent

• Fianna Fáil and Labour: 48.3 per cent

• Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin: 44.6 per cent

• Fine Gael, Labour, and the PDs: 40.8 per cent