The Fianna Fail succession

Haughey clear favourite, O'Kennedy the dark horse.

CHARLES HAUGHEY is the clear popular choice to succeed Jack Lynch as Taoiseach and his margin over his main rival, George Colley, is even more emphatic among declared Fianna Fail supporters throughout the country.

While Haughey leads Colley by 7% among the population as a whole, his lead extends to 9% (39% to 30%) among those who would now vote for Fianna Fail.

Although Colley would appear to catch up on Haughey when the first and second choices are aggregated, an examination of the second choices reveals that two thirds of those who would opt for Colley as their second choice would prefer Haughey as their first preference (Le. two thirds of 21 %, which is 14%), while only half of those who would opt for Haughey as their second choice (i.e. half 14% which is 7%) would vote for Colley as their first. Thus Haughey retains his 7% lead when the first and net second preferences are aggregated.

Haughey also has the distinction of evoking the most consolidated opposiition - 12% state that they very much dislike or oppose him. An analysis of this figure reveals that these people are primarily people who would vote for either Fine Gael or Labour, although 9% of Fianna Fail supporters said they were opposed to him.

Haughey's support comes primarily from Dublin, where a massive 42% want him to succeed Jack Lynch, and he is markedly stronger than his rivals among the younger age groups (i.e. under 44).

Of course it is not the population at large that will choose the successor to Jack Lynch, but 84 Fianna Fail TDs who will have very particularised reaasons for opting for one candidate or another. But one of these factors will certianly be how each of the candidates are rated by the general public and thus the popular support for Haughey is siggnificant.

Incidentally, one dent in the Haughey image emerges from the survey. Although rival Colley gratutiously innsulted women at last February's Fianna Fail Ard Fheis, he fares relatively better among women than does Haughey. Glamour boy Charlie is favoured by only 27% of women as against his ratting of 37% among men, while Colley scores one point better among the women, but is a massive 15% behind among men.

The emergence of Michael O'Kennedy as the third runner is especially surrprising, as one third of the public have no option on how he is faring in Government. This suggests that as he becomes better known he will emerge as an even stronger contender. His very low opposition factor (l %) is also very much in his favour, especially in disstancing himself from his nearest rival, Des O'Malley who has as many people very much disliking him as are in in favour of him becoming Taoiseach. O'Kennedy has the distinction, along with O'Malley and Martin O'Donoghue, of being very much better liked by Fine Gael supporters than he is among Fianna Fail voters.

• While the Haughey-Colley fued perrsists in bitterly dividing Fianna Fail, and
as it is at least the privately avowed deetermination of both men to refuse to serve in a cabinet headed by the other, the liklihood of the party opting again for a compromise choice must be deemed strong.

This is the relevance of the poll's reesults in relation to O'Kennedy. He comes third, not alone in the popularity stakes as successor to Jack Lynch, but third in the ratings of ministerial perrformance - only Lynch and Haughey fare better. He also fares well in the preeference stakes being the second choice of many people who opt for Haughey and Colley as their first.

Des O'Malley has often been spoken of as a possible compromise candidate, but his standing in the country is poor. He gets the second lowest rating in the ministerial performance stakes and his opposition factor is, for him, alarmingly high, but at least it is among Fine Gael voters that he is particularly disliked. O'Malley also does poorly in the preeferences. He would pick up only 2% from both Haughey and Colley.

O'Malley is not to be dismissed howwever. He is extremely able and will benefit, at least in the short term, from the drop in the inflation rate, and if oil is discovered off the west coast .

O'Malley may also have the benefit of Jack Lynch's support in any leadership contest, but in the public eye he does have some catching up to do on O'Kennedy.

First and second preferences for successor to Mr. Jack Lynch as Taoiseach; and extent to which Ministers are very much disliked or opposed as a successor.   

              First   Second   Disliked:  
              %       %       %  
Charlie Haughey       32       14       12  
George Colley       25       21       6  
MichaelO'Kennedy       10       14       1  
Des O'Malley           9       9       9  
Martin O'Donoghue       6       6       2  
Brian Lenehan       3       8       9  
Gerry Collins       2       7       2  
No Opinion           13       21       60 
Sample: 800 Adults: Republic of Ireland, aged 15+