The coalition’s poor polling will exacerbate pressure on the Government to be “a little looser with the purse strings” in next month’s budget.
The latest Irish Times/Ipsos poll has the three parties on combined support of 41% - down from 50% they received in the last election.
If an election was held tomorrow, 20% would give their first preference to Fianna Fáil, 18% to Fine Gael and 3% to the Greens.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin would 34% - a significant improvement on the 24.5% they polled in 2020.
The next election is due to be held in the next 18 months and the budget is seen as an opportunity for the Government to turn the polls in their favour.
“Along with General Elections, it’s really one of the few times in the calendar that the non-political nerds actually pay attention to politics and it’s important for shaping voter intent,” Irish Times reporter Jack Horgan-Jones told The Pat Kenny Show.
“So, I think because you are seeing this kind of stasis among the Government parties and because, when you take them in aggregate, they are significantly below the 50% mark… I think you’ll see no shortage of angst among the backbenchers of those Government parties.
“That will in turn, I think, put increased pressure on the spending ministers - Michael McGrath and Paschal Donohoe - to be a little looser with the purse strings in just a little over two weeks.”
Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney has said the budget will see “significant increases in expenditure” but the Government has also promised to be cautious with the nation’s finances.
A bonanza of corporation tax revenue means a surplus of €10 billion is expected and the Government has said it will be used to set up a State Wealth Fund.
Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has said it would not be “moral” to spend the revenue all at once and warned the money would be needed if another economic crisis hits Ireland.
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Main image: Eamon Ryan, Leo Varadkar Micheál Martin outside Government Buildings, 21-02-2023. Image: PA Images / Alamy