Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Are Irish political opinion polls really accurate?

Have Irish political parties become intoxicated by opinion polls as they reflect on their ambition to abseil the pantheon of political stardom?

While the polls are giving Fianna Fail a severe hangover, they also indicate that support is not committed firmly and that opinion polls really do not capture voting intentions in a representative way. How could they when those seeking to enter government appear to be paralysed by inertia and in sleep-walking mode within an anticipated 100 days of a widely expected general election?  Perhaps they ought to examine the message from the electorate in opinion polls more closely and not merely rely on the froth of the headline trend.

Fine Gael have yet to choose candidates in 7 Dáil constituencies and given the considerable number of Fine Gael candidates chosen who are strangers to the electorate there is little flair or imagination evident on their web site to educate the electorate about their candidate offering and policies.  

The Labour Party web site does not identify one single general election candidate. Their web site offers the usual blancmange of a ‘better’, ‘fairer’ nation but they still blather about ‘Stop NAMA’ and the ‘threatened’ move to transfer €90 million of property loans from banks. Despite the opinion polls there is no evidence that Labour has a well-drilled, sophisticated, army in place to fight the battle ahead. Will positive opinion poll trends be soured by poor candidate selection?  

The web site of Sinn Féin does have a tab called ‘candidate’ – but that relates to their candidates for the May 2010 British general election in their traditional heartlands in Northern Ireland. Apart from media reports that Mr Adams is to migrate to somewhere in Co Louth there is no evidence that Sinn Féin is serious about general election in the Republic of Ireland other than a generic warble about ‘better’, ‘fairer’ ‘change’ and continue pursuing the goal of Liam Mellows and Bobby Sands ‘to bring us closer to our goals of Irish unity and independence’. Independence of what – the IMF and the ECB? They advocate ‘building an Ireland of equals’ – would that be equality of debt, bound in the chains of eternal welfare, poverty, aimlessness and hopelessness? Given the experience of the 2007 general election a voter would have expected to observe the shoots of economic genius and economic leadership but perhaps what is not there simply cannot be observed and what is offered by Sinn Féin is merely rousing neighbourhood activism. 

The Green Party, at whose instigation, the timing of this general election is to be determined, have shrouded the identity of potential candidates, the constituencies they intend to contest and policies for the future in opacity as dark as mushroom compost covered in black polythene. Is their stamina exhausted or a symptom of jaded leadership? 

The electorate deserve to be informed of the identity of general election candidates; to understand their values and competency. The electorate should not be expected to make choices wearing a blindfold. The electorate also need to form an opinion on the capacity of parties to govern with integrity, wisdom and decisiveness. Ireland will not waffle its way, using clichés, to achieve a semblance of recovery. 

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