General Election 2016 is in full swing and everybody has their own predictions about who is going to form the next coalition government. Opinion polls are being released on a weekly basis and political analysts are working around-the-clock to try and predict the outcome. Over the past couple of weeks, there have also been been a number of attempts to try and apply the results of national opinion polls to each local constituency.
Unfortunately, national opinion polls tend to ignore the so-called ‘local factor’. i.e. A voter might not like Party X, but he or she may still vote for a Party X candidate, simply because the candidate in question is perceived to have worked hard for the local community. There are a number of different local dynamics that can come into play during an election, and many of these can be missed by pollsters.
One interesting approach is to look at the odds that bookmakers such as Paddy Power are offering. Although Paddy Power do not disclose how they have calculated their odds, their odds for the Wexford constituency do seem to fall in-line with predictions from internal party polls. If one were to take a guess: Paddy Power’s constituency odds are based on a combination of local poll results, national poll results and betting activity.
If we work on the assumption that these odds are somewhat correct, then this is what the result of the 2016 General Election will look like:
- Fine Gael: 61 seats (38.6%).
- Fianna Fail: 33 seats (20.8%).
- Sinn Fein: 26 seats (16.5%).
- Independents: 13 seats (8.2%).
- Labour: 12 seats (7.6%).
- AAA/PBP: 4 seats (2.5%).
- Social Democrats: 3 seats (1.9%).
- Renua: 3 seats (1.9%).
- Green Party: 1 seat (0.6%).
- United Left: 1 seat (0.6%).
A pie chart of the above data:
Winners & Losers.
So, who will gain seats and who will lose seats? Note that the number of sitting TDs was reduced from 166 to 158 in 2012, so we’ll have to work on % of seats won:
- Fine Gael’s seat share will drop by 7.1% to 38.6%.
- Fianna Fail’s will increase their seat share by 8.8%, from 12% to 20.8%.
- Sinn Fein will increase their seat share by 8%, from 8.4% to 16.4%.
- Labour’s seat share will drop by 15.3%, from 22.9% to 7.6%.
Both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein will increase their number of seats:
- Sinn Fein: +48.7%.
- Fianna Fail: +42.3%.
- Fine Gael: -15.5%.
- Labour: -66.8%.
If the bookmakers are correct, then Labour will have their worst General Election since 1987.
To form a majority, 79 out of 158 seats will be required. This means that if Fine Gael and Labour want to form the next government, they will need to pick up 79 seats between them. So, where do the possible coalitions stand?
- Fine Gael & Labour: 73 seats. 6 seats away from being able to form a government.
- Fianna Fail & Sinn Fein: 59 seats. 20 seats away.
- Fine Gael, Labour and Renua: 76 seats. 3 seats away.
- Fine Gael, Labour and the Social Democrats: 76 seats. 3 seats away.
- Fine Gael & Fianna Fail: 94 seats. More than enough to form a stable government.
- Sinn Fein, AAA, PBP, United Left and the Social Democrats: 34 seats.
- Fine Gael, Labour, Renua and 3 independent candidates: 79.
- Fine Gael, Labour, Renua and the Social Democrats: 79.
As you can see, most of the coalition possibilities that were listed above have not reached the 79 seats mark that is required for a majority. This tells us that a rainbow coalition of Fine Gael, Labour, Renua / Social Democrats and a number of independents is the most likely outcome. It also tells us that a left-wing-led government is unlikely.
These are the odds, not the actual results. In many constituencies, the odds for the last two spots are pretty close. i.e. The last two seats are difficult to try and predict, as transfers from eliminated candidates can bring a number of surprises. For example: In Wexford, it is expected that Fine Gael’s Michael D’arcy will take the last spot. However, Sinn Fein’s Johnny Mythen is currently at his heels, and he may be able to sneak in if the transfers from other left-wing candidates are favourable enough.