Fine Gael remains the most popular political party among Irish farmers, the latest Irish Farmers Journal survey can reveal. Leo Varadkar’s party has been top of the farming polls for well over a decade now, and has arrested a slump in support across recent surveys.
Thirty-seven percent of farmers surveyed said they would give their first-preference vote to Fine Gael in a general election. This is an unchanged figure from the last poll, taken in May. Remarkably, Fianna Fáil’s level of support is also unchanged, at 23%. It means the two traditionally dominant parties retain 60% of the farming vote.
Sinn Féin has been steadily gaining support in recent polls, but this time its support has dropped. The 13% level of support it holds among farmers lags way behind the overall support levels expressed in opinion polls among the general public. Independent politicians continue to retain large swathes of farmer votes, with just under one in five of those surveyed intending to vote for a non-party candidate.
Support varies by sector and by region. Dairy and tillage farmers, the sectors with the highest average incomes, support Fine Gael most strongly. Fianna Fáil, in contrast, has more support from beef farmers (27%) and sheep farmers (23%).
Sinn Féin also polled best among drystock farmers.
Farmers in Leinster (40%) and Munster (39%) most strongly support Fine Gael, with only 30% supporting them in Connacht. Fianna Fáil’s support is steady across the country, while Sinn Féin polled best in Ulster. Independent candidates are almost as popular as Fine Gael in Connacht, and also poll well in Munster.