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New poll shows Sinn Féin out in front for upcoming European elections in June

The poll shows that 34% of voters who said they would vote live in private rented accommodation.

OVER A QUARTER of voters intend to give a Sinn Féin candidate their first preference in the upcoming European election in June, according to a new The Journal/Ireland Thinks poll published today.

In the first poll of a series ahead of the European Parliament election, 26% said they intend to vote Sinn Féin, while 19% said they will vote for Fianna Fáil and another 19% opted for Fine Gael.

The state of the other parties, when undecided voters and those unlikely to vote are excluded, is as follows:

  • Independent candidates 16%;
  • Social Democrats 6%;
  • Green Party 4%;
  • Labour 4%;
  • Solidarity-PBP 3%;
  • Others 3%.

The poll of 1,255 people was carried out between the 2 and 7 February and has a  margin of error of 2.8%.

Age and gender breakdown

This is the first poll specifically about the European election voting preferences and kicks off a six-month series of The Journal/Ireland Thinks surveys. 

The results follow a pattern of Sinn Féin out in front. Although there have been signs in recent surveys that support is waning for the party overall, the poll reveals that the largest cohort young voters are still putting their support behind the party.

A large swathe, 30% of those aged 18-34, said they plan to vote Sinn Féin, followed by 28% of those aged between 35-44.

However, its support trends older too with 32% of those aged 45-54 saying they would vote Sinn Féin in the European elections. 

Of those aged 55-64, 27% said they would vote Sinn Féin, while 19% of over 65s say the party is their first preference.

While Sinn Féin has scooped much of the support of younger voters, Fianna Fáil is attracting the backing of the over 65s.

Of those aged 65 and over, 32% said they would vote for Fianna Fáil.

Just 9% of those aged between 18-34 said they would vote for Micheál Martin’s party. Meanwhile, 14% of those aged between 35-44 said they would vote Fianna Fáil and 9% of 45-54-year-olds said the party would get their number one vote come June.

Of the 55-64 age group, 22% said they would opt to send a Fianna Fáil candidate to Strasbourg. 

Fine Gael fares similarly with younger voters.

Just 10% of 18-34-year-olds said they would give their vote to Fine Gael in the European elections.  

Support for Leo Varadkar’s party increases in the older age groups, with 14% support among 35-44-year-olds; 17% of those aged between 45-54; and 17% of 55-64-year-olds. 

The sex breakdown of voters shows there is a disparity within Fine Gael voters – just 16% of female voters would give them a first preference, compared with 21% of men. 

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil voters are on an equal footing with 19% male and female voters stating they would opt for the party candidate. 

In terms of Sinn Féin, 24% of male voters said they will vote for the party and 28% female.

Climate change as motivation

Looking to the other government coalition partner, just 10% of those aged between 18-34 said they would give their votes to the Greens.

The poll shows that support falls dramatically to 5% within the 35-44-year-old category, and popularity wanes even further in the older generations with 3% of voters aged between 45-54; 2% aged between 55 and 64; and 2% aged over 65 stating they would vote for Eamon Ryan’s party. 

When surveyed on how they would rate the EU’s performance on climate change on a scale of 1 to 5, where one is very bad and five is very good, the poll showed that 41% answered 3 and 20% answered 2.

Regional breakdown

Looking to the regions, the poll shows that 30% of voters in Dublin will vote for a Sinn Féin candidate in the European elections.

Just 13% of voters said they would vote for a Fianna Fáil candidate in the capital while 18% of voters would choose Fine Gael.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s strongest support comes from the Munster region, with 24% and 19% of those living there stating they would vote for the two parties, respectively.

A number of candidates have already thrown their hat in the ring, making it known they wish to be selected. 

Carlow-Kilkenny TD Kathleen Funchion announced just last week that she is seeking to be nominated as Sinn Féin’s Ireland South candidate. 

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has already been selected to contest the Ireland South constituency in the European elections. The party has nominated Senator Lynn Boylan and Councillor Daithí Doolan to contest for a seat in the Dublin constituency.

Sinn Féin last week also nominated Northern Irish MP Michelle Gildernew and current MEP Chris MacManus to contest in the Ireland North-West constituency.

Three Fine Gael MEPs – Seán Kelly, Colm Markey and Maria Walsh – have all indicated they plan to run again, though Frances Fitzgerald announced she will stand down.

Junior Minister Josepha Madigan has announced her intention to put her name forward for a Fine Gael selection convention, as has Senator Regina Doherty.

Two Fianna Fáil MEPs – Barry Andrews and Billy Kelleher – both plan to contest the next election. Offaly TD Barry Cowen has been chosen as the Fianna Fáil candidate for the Midlands North West constituency.

Housing in play?

Housing is obviously one of the top issues on the agenda in domestic polls but the European Parliament has little power over policy in the area. The housing crisis is attracting support to Sinn Féin for this campaign nonetheless. 

The poll shows there is strong support for the party from those who live in rented accommodation from the council, private rented accommodation and from those that live at home with their parents. 

Of those that live in council rented houses, 46% said they would vote Sinn Féin, while 34% of those living in private rental accommodation said they would give the party their vote.

Of those living at home with their parents, 34% said they would vote for Mary Lou McDonald’s party in the upcoming European elections. 

In comparison, 16% of those living in council rented accommodation said they would vote for Fianna Fáil and 8% of those living in the private rental market would back the party.

Just 17% of those that live at home with their parents would vote Fianna Fáil. 

In terms of those polled who pledged to vote for Fine Gael, just 13% are in council housing, 15% are in the private rental market while 13% live at home with their parents. 

Interestingly, support is strong for Fianna Fáil for those that own their own home outright, with 27% of voters who own their own property stating they would vote for the party. 

A total of 15% of mortgage-holders said they would give their vote to Fianna Fáil. 

Meanwhile, just 17% of those that own their own home outright said they would vote for Sinn Féin, while 29% of mortgage-holders said they would. 

Over Christmas, McDonald stirred up some controversy by telling The Irish Times that the average house prices in Dublin should fall to the €300,000 mark. 

Fine Gael will get the vote of 23% of voters that own their own home outright, while 17% of mortgage-holders will also vote for the party.

The Journal/Ireland Thinks series of polls will run each month ahead of the European parliament elections in June. It will continue to explore voter intentions, measure Irish public sentiment towards the EU on a number of issues and highlight any potential opinion gaps between different demographics of Irish society on matters important to them. 


This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work are the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here

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