FARMING POLL 2015 - DATA: Farmers favour Fine Gael ahead of election — but Labour in trouble

Tim Lawlor from Reenascreena, West Cork, with Larry at the event inRatheniska.

Fine Gael is still the most favoured political party among farmers and one in five survey respondents would like the current coalition returned after the next general election — despite a complete collapse in support for Labour.

The opinion poll shows while support for Taoiseach Enda Kenny has weakened since last year, he is still the most popular party leader.

Support for Fianna Fáil has waned in the past year, and support for Sinn Féin has fallen from 9% last year to 4% in this poll. Just one in eight of people questioned would countenance Sinn Féin’s involvement in any government after the next election.

There is also growing support for independents, while Labour cannot sink any lower, with the poll showing not one respondent would consider giving the party a first-preference vote — something that would appear to threaten the effectiveness of any mooted coalition vote-transfer pact ahead of an election.

Among farmers, Fine Gael is still the most popular party, its 38% support double that of nearest rival Fianna Fail on 19%. While support for Fine Gael has increased by two percentage points from last year’s poll, Fianna Fáil has lost four points.

Sinn Féin support, at 4%, is the same level as that charted in the 2013 poll — but down five percentage points from last year.

FARMING POLL 2015 - DATA: Farmers favour Fine Gael ahead of election — but Labour in trouble

This year’s poll also sees another significant increase in support for independent candidates, with support rising from 4% in 2013 to 8% last year and now up to 12% in the latest opinion poll.

However, with just 3% claiming they will not vote at all, 23% of respondents said they have not decided which party they would back, meaning there is much to play for when it comes to the farming vote come election time.

The poll shows that one in five of those surveyed would prefer the current coalition government to be returned after the general election, even allowing for the complete lack of any support for Labour among those questioned. A quarter of all dairy farmers would like to see the current government returned.

The next most popular combination is Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, backed by 14%, ahead of the 12% who back a Fianna Fáil and Independents combination. However, the 31% of respondents as yet undecided on the composition of a coalition show that many are confounded by the current options.

ICMSA president John Comer
ICMSA president John Comer

ICMSA president John Comer said the continued high level of support for Fine Gael should not come as a surprise, but that all parties needed to engage with rural Ireland on big issues with scope for independent candidates to make gains if they did not.

“I don’t think that any logical observer with any sense of heritage or background can be completely surprised by this,” he said.

“It might be more interesting to focus on the drop in support for certain parties that are perceived — rightly or wrongly — as being completely out of sympathy with the problems and issues particular to rural Ireland in general and farm families in particular.

“Certain parties present themselves as more or less speaking for a particular element of our society, say, urban or suburban and more ‘public’ than ‘private’ sector. What this survey shows is that farmers are taking those parties at their own word: If they’re presenting themselves as not interested in us then we’re not that interested in them.

“The 23% undecided is very significant and might bode well for independents able to take specific local slants on specific local issues. It also shows perhaps that no one party has, as yet, rolled out a vision of Irish farming and rural life that takes ownership of the segment of the electorate that will vote very heavily on that issue.”

More survey findings and analysis

Survey methodology

 

 

FARMING POLL 2015: Farmers counting the costs of the past year

FARMING POLL 2015 - DATA: Over half of hard-pressed households forced to work off-farm

FARMING POLL 2015 - DATA: Farmers call for repeal of abortion law

FARMING POLL 2015 - DATA: ‘Disgraceful reality’ of need for off-farm income

FARMING POLL 2015 - DATA: Farmers wait on economic recovery benefit

FARMING POLL 2015 - DATA: Mass still part of the fabric of farming life

FARMING POLL 2015 - DATA: 64% of farmers support a more liberal abortion regime

Rural attitudes - Abortion law is too strict, say farmers

More on this topic

VIDEO: Farmers talk of having to work outside farm to supplement incomeVIDEO: Farmers talk of having to work outside farm to supplement income


Lifestyle

This Christmas remember that there is no such thing as cheap food.Buy local: Use your LOAF

As we wait, eager and giddy, a collective shudder of agitated ardor ripples through the theatre, like a Late, Late Toyshow audience when they KNOW Ryan’s going to give them another €150 voucher. Suddenly, a voice booms from the stage. Everyone erupts, whooping and cheering. And that was just for the safety announcement.Everyman's outstanding Jack and the Beanstalk ticks all panto boxes

Every band needs a Bez. In fact, there’s a case to be made that every workplace in the country could do with the Happy Mondays’ vibes man. Somebody to jump up with a pair of maracas and shake up the energy when things begin to flag.Happy Mondays create cheery Tuesday in Cork gig

More From The Irish Examiner