Irish General Election 2020 Odds, Tips and Analysis.
- Green Party to get over 9.5 seats 5/6.
- Fine Gael to get more than 42.5 seats 5/6.
- FF/Green/Labour/Independents to form next Government 11/1.
- John Maher (Lab) to take a seat in Cork North Central 7/2.
- Mary Linehan Foley to take a seat in Cork East 7/1.
Irish Politics has been reshaped on a number of fronts. The result of the 2016 General Election should have led to the end of the two party system. The only obvious course of action was for Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to enter coalition together. This would have led to an opposition being led for the first time by another party, Sinn Fein. Oppositions are generally more popular than Governments so it is likely that this election would have seen a straight choice between FF/FG and a Sinn Fein led alternative.
Michael Martin had other ideas when he pulled a rabbit out of his well-worn hat and instead we got confidence and supply. Fianna Fail were the Schrödinger party, they were both in government and in opposition at the same time. The two party system survived despite an historically low combined seat count.
This unconventional arrangement has lasted over three years. Undoubtedly the Brexit saga was the main reason for this longevity but Fianna Fail in particular will be claiming credit for ‘putting the country first’. Brexit has temporarily gone quiet and its effect on this election will be less than we would have thought a mere few months ago.
Green Party to get over 9.5 seats 5/6.
The Green wave is only just beginning. Green issues are becoming more and more mainstream. Images of Australia on fire are only the latest in a constant stream of worrying images and news. Greta Thunberg rocks. The future is Green.
The Green Party will be the ones to gain from this. They have the name. Sometimes that’s enough. No amount of environmental activism by any other party will capture Green issues from the Green Party. Even Eamon Ryan’s tendency to keep his foot in his mouth most of the time won’t stop them.
The Local Elections were kind to the Green Party and they have numerous poll topping candidates now running for the Dail. Leo’s decision to hold the election on a Saturday will also help them. Young people are more likely to vote Green. They are also more likely to be home from college or work on a Saturday. When they are at home with their parents they are more likely to be encouraged (or dragged) to vote. Expect the Green Party to get ten or more seats.
Fine Gael to get more than 42.5 seats 5/6.
Fianna Fail will win this election and Michael Martin will be Taoiseach. This follows their strong performance in last year’s Local Elections and By-Elections. There is also a sense that Fine Gael have the air of a party in power too long and out of touch. (That’s assuming they were ever in touch of course.)
In Michael Martin, Fianna Fail have a leader that was central when Fianna Fail presided over the financial collapse. He became leader in the run up to the 2011 General Election in which Fianna Fail lost 57 seats. He oversaw the recovery of 24 of these seats in 2016 and will oversee a further increase this time. Martin is a strong performer and his tail is up. There is a long way to go but all signs are that Michael Martin and Fianna Fail will be rewarded by the electorate for taking their medicine and for facilitating a Government in which they took no positions. The performance of Fine Gael is doing them no harm either.
Leo Veradker is on a defensive footing. Theresa May’s failed early election loomed large in his thinking when he decided not to go to the country earlier. Fine Gael were riding high in the polls for much of 2019. Veradker found himself in the most unusual position for a blueshirt leader. He was standing up to both Northern Unionists and the British Government. And he did so extremely well. Brexit gave Leo a platform and he performed. Sinn Fein were boycotting Westminster and Stormont was suspended. Leo was the voice of Ireland.
Brexit consuming every media breath would have been more than enough to see a strong Fine Gael performance. Not even the massive children’s hospital cost over-run could burst their bubble. A 2019 General Election would have been kinder to Fine Gael. The decision to wait will serve as a salutary tale for future governments.
Now that Brexit is taking a break from the headlines the cracks are starting to show. The housing crisis is making the news again. The homelessness crisis is worse than ever and Fine Gael cannot claim to be blameless. The proposed R.I.C. commemoration appears to have negated most of the ‘Brexit credit’ that the party built up. Veradker has had a bad start to the campaign and it is hard to see a recovery from here. Martin is too long in the tooth to be caught out badly.
Fine Gael will try make this campaign about the economy and trust. They will make try to make it about Michael Martin. They will fail. When the tide goes out in politics it rarely comes back quickly. This campaign is a two horse race and it is the smaller parties that will feel the squeeze most. Expect Fine Gael to get 43 seats or more (5/6) but to be significantly behind Fianna Fail.
FF/Green/Labour/Independents to form next Government 11/1.
80 seats are required to form a majority government. Last year this would have been completely unachievable for either party. How quickly things change. Both parties have ruled out coalition with Sinn Fein so there are very limited government options. Confidence and Supply is always possible but both main parties will do all they can to avoid this.
Given a straight choice, The Green Party would choose Fine Gael. They were badly burned the last time they were in government with Fianna Fail. They won’t get that option. Fianna Fail could be just shy of 60 seats, ten or more ahead of Fine Gael. The Greens at ten plus seats will choose government.
Labour will be lower and will likely decide to join also. It has been a difficult time for Labour and they will hope that a term in Government, even as the third party, will revive their fortunes. A number of independents will be needed to get to the magic number, 80. The price of an Independent has gone up significantly as a result of the last government. They all want to be ministers now. Minister Healy Rae maybe? (The Greens and the Healy Rae’s at the same table would be interesting). 11/1 is good value.
Sinn Fein will gnash their teeth, the Social Democrats will choose opposition to avoid getting swallowed up in a complex coalition (Sinn Fein have shown the way here, opposition is the place to begin growth) and People Before Profit and all their bedfellows will fight amongst themselves.
John Maher (Lab) to take a seat in Cork North Central 7/2.
Cork North Central is a changed landscape from 2016. Mick Barry (Solidarity) is the only successful candidate from 2016 that is defending. He faces a battle to retain his seat and it is very possible that there will be four new TD’s this time around. By-election winner Padraig O’Sullivan (FF) is a cert. Colm Burke (FG) and Thomas Gould (SF) are likely to take the next two seats. The last seat will be a scrap.
Fianna Fail will be hoping for a second seat with Tony Fitzgerald and had Billy Kelleher still been in place they may well have achieved it. The Green Party’s Oliver Moran will be hoping to ride the Green wave into office but John Maher (Labour) could upset them all. There is strong Labour history in this constituency and former TD Kathleen Lynch is still very popular. John took the second seat with over 10% of the vote as a first time candidate in Cork City North East in last years local elections. He again performed strongly in the recent by-election with just shy of 10% of first preference votes. The trajectory is definitely up and 7/2 appears a great bet.
Mary Linehan Foley to take a seat in Cork East.
Cork East is another constituency where Fianna Fail will hope to make a gain. Kevin O’Keefe (FF), Sean Sherlock (Lab) and David Stanton (FG) should return comfortably but Pat Buckley (SF) could be vulnerable. James O’Connor (FF) is well positioned geographically and performed well in his first local election last year. To get to the Dáil he will have to out poll Mary Linehan Foley (IND) and incumbent Pat Buckley (SF). Mary Linehan Foley topped the same Midleton Local Election Area poll with 2699 first preference votes. The quota was 1896. A very strong performance.
Both James O’Connor and Mary Linehan Foley are from the same part of the constituency and are likely to transfer strongly to each other. It is likely that whichever is eliminated first will elect the other. Mary Linehan Foley’s strong performances and support base are likely to see her edge it and take the last seat. 7/1 is far too big.