FIANNA FÁIL crawled off rock bottom last night but remains on course for huge losses at the next election, an opinion poll revealed.
Fine Gael and Labour cemented their commanding lead over the Government as Fianna Fáil stayed mired in third place – but the party did gain two points despite presiding over a vicious December budget.
The snapshot survey of opinion shows support for the three main parties remaining virtually frozen with Fine Gael gaining a point to 32%, Labour dropping one to 24% and Fianna Fáil up two points to 22%, with the Greens down one to 3%, Sinn Féin down one to 8% and the independents unchanged on 11%.
The vast majority of voters – 76% – continue to be dissatisfied with the Government’s performance, but those saying it was doing a good job rose slightly to 19%. Brian’s Cowen’s personal ratings also made a slight three-point rise to 26%, despite what was widely seen as the Government’s poor handling of the severe weather emergency.
However, FF remains at an historic and prolonged low, which could see it lose in the region of 25 seats at the next general election.
Despite its slight climb to 22%, Fianna Fáil retains barely half the 42% level of support it gained in the 2007 general election.
The Fine Gael/Labour lead over the Government parties dipped by a point to 31% but continues to stand at 56% to 25%.
Labour will be pleased it continues to push Fianna Fáil into third place as it did in the last Irish Times/mrbi poll taken last September, and that Eamon Gilmore remains by far the most popular party leader with his satisfaction rating climbing one point to 46%.
The party figures remain solid considering the turmoil of the intervening four months which saw the Lisbon referendum re-run, NAMA, the December budget, Arctic weather and an outpouring of sympathy for Finance Minister Brian Lenihan after it was revealed he had cancer.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny’s personal standing dipped one point to 31%, while Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams saw his ratings rise 3% to 31% despite being embroiled in controversy surrounding his family.
Environment Minister John Gormley’s support rose 2% to 24%, but the Greens face electoral wipe-out at the next Dáil showdown.
Despite a slight upward move by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour will be pleased their lead over the Government parties has remained solid for a full year now. However, Mr Kenny has conceded that an early election looks increasingly unlikely as Mr Cowen battles to hold his coalition together until he has to call a national poll in May 2012.
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