Ireland's ruling party suffers massive post-budget drop in support
Following an austerity budget prompted by ailing public finances amid a recession, Ireland's ruling Fianna Fail party suffered a massive 10-percentage-point drop in support in an opinion poll published Sunday.
In the Red C poll published in the Sunday Business Post, only 26 per cent of voters would opt for Prime Minister Brian Cowen's party, well behind the opposition Fine Gael party on 33 per cent, dpa reports.
The seven-point lead for Fine Gael is the largest since polling began, Irish national broadcaster RTE reported. Fine Gael had gained five points since the last poll.
Cowen and Fianna Fail seem to have lost support after an unpopular budget decision to remove automatic free health care from the over 70s.
The ruling party's junior coalition parties both dropped by one point, with the Greens now on 6 per cent and the Progressive Democrats on 2 per cent. Independents remain unchanged at 8 per cent.
The opposition Labour Party gained six points to 15 per cent, while the republican Sinn Fein party gain one point to 10 per cent.
Voters did not seem to be reassured by the government's harsh budget, with 59 per cent saying they did not believe it could bring Ireland out of recession.
Only 20 per cent said the government could steer the country out of its current financial problems, 19 points down from the last poll. Twenty-one per cent were undecided.
Ireland entered a recession in the last quarter after its economy shrank for two successive quarters.