Fine Gael strategists have held a series of crisis calls with local election directors in response to the party’s slumping poll ratings and fears its message of recovery is not getting across to the public.
The phonecalls took place on Thursday evening after the party saw its support fall from 31% at the start of the campaign to 26% in mid-week, a situation that means the coalition is at risk of losing office.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, a number of Fine Gael’s top strategists admitted that after the phonecalls the party now accepts its “keeping the recovery” slogan is not working and will be sidelined in the last week of the election in favour of clearer warnings of what might happen if the economic comeback ends.
“The message is about recovery but it is about making it more real to people, more emotional for the coming days,” said one source.
The decision was made before Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin last night told supporters in Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s hometown of Castlebar, Co Mayo, the coalition’s “operation scare the public” tactics have failed.
Progressive Democrats founder Des O’Malley has re-opened the prospect of a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition by saying he went into power with Charlie Haughey against his better judgement, because that is what the people voted for.
Speaking at length to the Irish Examiner, Mr O Malley said Dáil arithmetic ultimately forced him into the 1989 deal.
“Since the maths had turned out, if we had turned our backs, we would have been turning our backs on a decision of the people.
“I was very reluctant in doing a deal with Fianna Fáil. It was done against our better judgements,” he said.
Mr O’Malley said promises by parties that they will never go into coalition together should be taken with “two or three pinches of salt”.
Referring to his own experience of post-election negotiations, he said he could foresee Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in government together after the election and that it could bring a certain stability to the country.
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