Main Irish opposition surged into 12-point lead as election called

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland’s main opposition party, Fianna Fail, surged into a 12-point lead over the governing Fine Gael party according to an opinion poll that was published on Sunday but mainly conducted before Prime Minister Leo Varadkar called a snap election.

FILE PHOTO: The Leader of Ireland’s opposition Fianna Fail party, Micheal Martin is seen in the grounds of Government Buildings in Dublin, Ireland November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Varadkar called the Feb. 8 election on Tuesday, kicking off a campaign that will pit his party’s record on Brexit and Ireland’s fast-growing economy against struggling public services and a high cost of living, particularly involving housing.

The Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes poll had put the two dominant parties of Irish politics, both centre-right, level on 27% a month ago, but the poll on Sunday showed Fine Gael plummeting to 20% while its rival jumped to 32%, up five points.

However Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin played down the big lead.

“I think it’s fair to say that polls have fluctuated in the recent past and I would anticipate that the next poll will be significantly different,” he told national broadcaster RTE.

The survey of almost 1,000 eligible Irish voters was conducted between Jan. 2 and 14, the day Varadkar called the election. It marked Fine Gael’s lowest rating in Behaviour & Attitudes’ nine years of polling, and Fianna Fail’s largest-ever lead.

The poll was carried


 »