Public support for the 26-County government, the Taoiseach Brian Cowen and his Fianna Fail party has collapsed to the lowest level recorded since polling began more than a quarter of a century ago.
Satisfaction with the Government has dropped to a record low of 18 per cent, a drop of 28 points since the last MRBI poll in June, while satisfaction with Taoiseach Brian Cowen has fallen to 26 per cent, a drop of 21 points.
The level of dissatisfaction with the Dublin government is now a massive 76 per cent, while 61 per cent of people are dissatisfied with the way Mr Cowen is doing his job.
The precipitous slide in the fortunes of the Fianna Fail/Green Party coalition comes amid the ongoing controversy over the Budget on a range of issues including medical cards for the over-70s, education cutbacks and the elimination of a planned cervical cancer vaccination programme for schoolgirls.
By contrast the poll not only puts Fine Gael ahead of Fianna Fail for the first time ever in an MRBI poll, but the main Opposition party has a seven-point lead.
The adjusted figures for party support, compared with the last similar Times poll in June are: Fianna Fail, 27 per cent (down 15 points); Fine Gael, 34 per cent (up 11 points); Labour, 14 per cent (down 1 point); Sinn Féin, 8 per cent (no change); Green Party, 4 per cent (down 1 point); and Independents/others, 13 per cent (up 6 points).
Fianna Fail support has slumped in Dublin and it is now behind Labour as well as Fine Gael in the capital.
The other big beneficiary of the decline in Fianna Fail support is the Independent/other group which is up five points, which includes supporters for the now extinct Progressive Democrats as well as the new republican party, Eirigi.
Sinn Féin is holding steady with 8 per cent support and is well positioned to attract more young working-class voters if, or when, the recession really begins to bite.
LISBON POLL SHIFT
Meanwhile, the same poll showed that a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty may have a chance of being carried.
The poll shows an apparent change in public attitudes since June with 43 per cent now saying they would vote ‘Yes’ and 39 per cent ‘No’, but with a significant 18 per cent having no opinion.
When the “don’t knows” are excluded this gives the ‘Yes’ side 52.5 per cent, with the’No’ side on 47.5 per cent. It compares to the referendum result in June of 53.4 per cent ‘No’ and 46.6 per cent ‘Yes’.