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Snap Irish election dismissed as Varadkar admits he’s only doing well due to coronavirus
May 6, 2020
The Fine Gael leader admitted the new survey, which showed 35 percent of people backed his party, was not carried out under normal circumstances. Ireland has been in lockdown for the past six weeks and more than 1,330 people have died from COVID-19. And as party leaders work to form a coalition government, the number of infected people in the Republic has risen to 21,983.
Acting Taoiseach Mr Varadkar made the bleak warning during a video conference with Fine Gael TDs (members of the Irish Parliament), senators and MEPs on Tuesday.
There have been suggestions by some in the party, including a junior minister, the positive ratings could boost Fine Gael’s chances in an autumn general election.
But Mr Varadkar was quick to pour cold water on the idea, warning members not be become “buoyed” by poll results.
Despite public opinion of his group improving, he said Fine Gael would be in a “weak” position trying to explain a second election to the public, The Irish Examiner reports.
The survey found 35 percent of the electorate would give the ruling party their first preference vote.
The result marked a big improvement from the 20.9 percent of first preference votes Fine Gael received in the election.
Just 14 percent said they would vote for Micheal Martin’s Fianna Fail after the group won 22.2 percent of the vote in February.
Backing for Sinn Fein, who won the popular vote in February’s election, remains high.
The nationalists are polling at 27 percent while the Green Party, led by Eamon Ryan is on seven percent.
Sinn Fein won the popular vote in the general election, scooping up 24.5 percent of first preference votes.
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The ballot carried out by Red C for the Business Post showed nearly four in 10 (39 percent) would rather see Mr Varadkar lead a government than Mr Martin (14 percent).
The Taoiseach announced the nationwide lockdown in an address to the country on March 12.
Schools and universities were closed the following day.
The move came as European countries were also going into lockdown.
The UK followed suit a week later as the epidemic worsened.
This week saw the lifting of some of the strict measures, with over 70s allowed to leave their homes for the first time in six weeks.
The measures were imposed to slow the spread of the viral disease and protect people’s health.
Mr Varadkar has laid out a five-phase “roadmap for reopening society and business”.
He said the final stage of the plan will be implemented on August 10.