General Election 2020

General Election 2020 Update – 24th – 27th January

28 January 2020

Opinion Poll Analysis

Two opinion polls were published over the weekend which showed a considerable drop in support for Fine Gael with Sinn Féin proving to be the biggest beneficiary.

The Sunday Business Post / RED C opinion poll puts Fianna Fáil on 26% (+2), Fine Gael 23% (-7), Sinn Féin 19% (+8), Independents 14% (-2), Greens 8% (+1) and Labour down two to 4%. As well as being concerned about the drop in his party’s support, the Taoiseach will also be alarmed by the finding that the electorate trust Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin more than his own party to solve the crises within housing and health; the two issues at the forefront of voters’ minds. Furthermore, the poll showed that Fine Gael had considerably less committed voters than Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, suggesting the party’s support could reduce further. While a significant number of voters trust FG on handling the economy, the issue has so far failed to materialise as a priority for the electorate.  

A further opinion poll carried out by Ireland Thinks for the Irish Mail on Sunday has Fianna Fáil on 27% and five points ahead of Fine Gael who are down 6 points. Sinn Féin support is at 20% (up 5 points) with the Greens also receiving a boost to 10% (+3).

The poll confirms the trend which has emerged throughout election 2020 thus far: voters and particularly the younger cohort, are flocking to Sinn Féin at the expense of Fine Gael.

Tonight, the Clare Byrne Live show will host a televised debate involving the leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour Party, Solidarity-People Before Profit, Green Party and the Social Democrats.

On the Campaign Trail

Fine Gael launched its manifesto over the weekend. As well as measures included in our analysis last week, such as an expansion in the Help-to-Buy scheme, highlights of the party’s policy agenda include:

– Raising the Universal Social Charge (USC) income exemption threshold from €13,000 to €20,500

– A plan to create 200,000 jobs

– Increase in the State pension by €25 a week over five years

– An additional €5 billion investment in healthcare over the next five years which will include 2,600 extra hospital beds

– Continue increases in the minimum wage in line with the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission

– Commitment to increasing renewable electricity use to 70 per cent of all energy by 2030 with close to €9 billion allocated for public transport projects

– Increase the number of SMEs exporting by 50% and simplify the administrative process for applications for the R&D tax credit

– Increase maximum loan available to SMEs and startups from Microfinance Ireland to €50,000

– Increase in the carbon tax by €6 a year, raising €6 billion over the next ten years

– Commitment to continue selling the State’s shares in banks over a measured period

Fianna Fáil this morning launched its policy on insurance costs with party spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath TD and Business Spokesperson Robert Troy TD. McGrath once again ruled out a coalition with Sinn Féin.

The party launched its manifesto “An Ireland for All” on Friday afternoon, which included the following pledges:

Finance

– Maintenance of the 12.5% corporation tax rate

– The full implementation of the Senior Executive Accountability Regime that will give the Central Bank powers to hold senior bankers personally responsible.

– Calling for a change in European Fiscal Compact and other spending rules to enable further capital investment in critical infrastructure.

– Reinstating the commission on taxation to report within 12 months to ensure the taxation model is fit for purpose, simple and effective.

– Giving the competition regulator effective enforcement powers to punish and deter anti-competitive conduct.

Climate Change

– Establishment of a Local Environmental Innovation Fund of €10million as an initial allocation

– Continue the pathway towards a €80 per tonne carbon tax by 2030. Proceeds of this carbon tax specifically spent protecting those on low incomes and in rural areas.

– Committed to reaching a 70% target for electricity from renewable energies by 2030. Prioritising off-shore wind and the necessary changes in planning law, licencing and regulations

– Implementation of a Carbon Cost Government Policy, setting out in detail the cost of an individual policy in terms of the future consequences it would have for the climate.

– Moving towards banning some single use plastics by 2025

– Establishment of a National Commission for 30-year decarbonisation planning across infrastructure in Ireland

Technology

– Creation of a corporate obligation for tech companies to process data with the best interests of consumers

– Limiting Big Tech firms market dominance through strengthening EU competition policies

Brexit

– Seeking a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the least disruption possible

– Protection of all island economy. Creation of a Border Economic Development zone to foster growth in the region with a €5mil initial investment

– Establishment of new formal structures for dialogue between Irish and British governments, similar to that of the Nordic Council of Ministers

The Labour Party will publish proposals for Better Pay and Job Security with Senator Ged Nash. This will include a few of Labour’s big themes such as the introduction of a living wage, the right to be represented by a trade union, examination of a 4-day working week, the introduction of a right to flexible working hours, tackling the gig economy. The party are prioritising a better work life balance in their policies with, Senator Nash outlining how “Ireland is almost unique in the EU that the right to flexible work doesn’t exist.”

Sinn Féin party leader Mary Lou McDonald has further emphasised that discussions on Irish unity will be a red line for the party, particularly since the UK vote for Brexit. Even in November of last year, McDonald was saying this was one of the key issues for entering government. SF is also promising to establish a Commission on the Future of the Family Farm. McDonald attended the rally against violence in Drogheda at the weekend, after a violent murder of a teenager placed crime at the heart of the election campaign. SF promises to bring Garda numbers to 16,000. The party will today release plans to address the staffing crisis impacting the Defence Forces, including a pay review.

The Green Party launched its manifesto “Towards 2030: A Decade of Change” on Saturday. The main focus of the manifesto are pledges on the environment, biodiversity, climate action, and public transport. These include:

– Ban single use plastic and introduce a deposit return scheme

– Increase forest cover from 11% to 30% by 2050, including a new afforestation scheme

– Programme of peatland restoration and rewetting

– Diversification in farming away from dairy and beef for export

On transport the party is promising a “rethink” of Ireland’s approach:

– Free public transport for students

– Pilot a €365 public transport annual pass

– All new urban buses to be 100% electric

– Light rail system in Cork and Galway

On housing:

– Measures for deep retrofitting of 75,000 houses per annum at a cost of €50 billion

– Apprenticeship programme to train 20,000 workers required for the above

– German-style rent review basing rents on the official rent guide for the area

– Tax on vacant lands and buildings

On tax:

– Wealth tax for assets over €10 million

– Site Value Tax based on the market value of the land under the property

– Increase carbon tax over 10 years to €100 per tonne

– Support proposals for a European Financial Transactions Tax

The party is planning to decriminalise the possession of small quantities of cannabis products and plants, a policy which could be popular with younger voters. The Greens are launching their proposals for Water Quality Policy today at Seapoint.

Quotes of the Day

– “We will say goodbye to an old friend embarking on an adventure. We hope it works out for them but if it does not, there will always be a seat kept for them at the table.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking about Brexit as he hosts Michel Barnier in Dublin.