LAST TUESDAY MORNING UK prime minister Theresa May took the vast majority of people by surprise and announced a snap British election, to be held in June.
On reflection, her reasons for doing so seem pretty clear – with her Conservative party soaring in the polls, a quick election seems likely to bolster May’s own position, with the added bonus of probably crushing rivals Labour into oblivion.
Enda Kenny has no such luxury. While Fine Gael has apparently regained its position as the most popular party in the country, an election now certainly won’t be returning any single-party majority. Indeed the issue of Kenny’s own leadership is something far dearer to Fine Gael hearts at present than going to the country for an election.
And fortunately for the Taoiseach and his party, the majority of Irish people also don’t want a snap election.
A new exclusive poll taken by market researchers Ireland Thinks (founded by former chief analyst for UK Labour Dr Kevin Cunningham and former chief of staff to the Tánaiste Ed Brophy) shows that a clear majority, 59%, of Irish people would sooner the government be allowed to remain in power.
This is a reflection however of the 85% of those polled who know for sure whether they want an election or not. A further 15% of the 1,200 Irish adults asked couldn’t say whether or not they would like another election in the immediate future.
The young and the restless
The figures become a deal more complicated, however, when the issues of party-loyalty and age-group come into play – most of the younger people polled are keen to see a fresh election, together with the parties chasing closest on Fine Gael’s heels.
69% of Sinn Féin voters want a snap election, 58% of Social Democrats (who currently have just two TDs in the Dáil despite a promising debut election last year) feel the same, while 41% and 37% of Solidarity-PBP and Fianna Fáil voters respectively are also in favour of a fresh vote.
Just 10% of Fine Gael supporters want another election now, while a massive 82% of them are against the idea. Supporters of Labour, which was decimated in the February 2016 vote in returning just seven TDs, similarly seem to think another election would not be in its best interests, with just 26% of those polled in favour of same.
Meanwhile, those who are in favour of a snap Irish election are very much skewed towards the younger age-groups.
62% of 25-34-year-olds are in favour of a fresh trip to the hustings, and 41% of 35-44-year-olds feel likewise.
The trend decreases across the age groups with just 23% of the 65 years-plus group in favour of voting once more in a snap election.
So it seems our precariously-positioned minority government can breathe easy, for the time being at least.
There is the caveat, though, that this poll was conducted at the start of March, long before Theresa May’s antics at No 10 on Tuesday. And things move quickly in politics.