So looking back at the past twelve mopnths, which or our parties have done best?
Fianna Fail : Started the year averaging 35%, ended averaging 40%.
It hasn't been without its troubles; a 31% poll rating in May, "Mr. A", "Bertiegate", the Moriarty verdict on Haughey and arguably an unimaginative and overly telegrapheded budget not giving the boost that it should, but all in all it was a good year for FF. For me the most significant period was during Bertiegate when people, faced with the thought of losing Ahern as Taoiseach, rallied behind him. Now any government that does not include FF is almost unthinkable. 8/10
Fine Gael : Stated the year averaging 26%, ended averaging 24%. Remarkably, back in May, they were with 3 points of FF and looked like a real alternative in waiting, but allowing populist policies like ending compulsory Irish Gaelic and neurality drift away and then failing to get any mud to stick to the "Teflon Taoiseach" make at least five more years in opposition look all but inevitable. the question is can a party that hasn't been put into power for over a quarter of a century really call themselves a "national party" for much longer? 4/10
Labour : Started the year averaging 13%, ended averaging 11%. If things have been bad for FG, then they have arguably been worse for the country's oldest political party. Slow but steady decline in the polls, internal discord about the Mulliongar accord and a core support in single figures in several polls, 1992 seems a lifetime away, and yet we could be just months away from the second FF/Labour government. 3/10
Progressive Democrats : Started the year averaging 3%, ended averaging 4%. A not fully unforced change of leadership, crisis after cris in Health, rising crime statistics. the fall-guys in "Bertiegate", the unfulfilled Stamp Duty promises and falling out with the judiciary, could it really have been much worse? Time really does appear to be running out for the PDs but will the threat of having Labour in government muster their support? 3/10
The Greens : started the year on 5%, ended on 6%. A lacklustre year but at least none of the foot shooting of 2005 and (especially) 2004. Threathened to break out of their little niche in the summer, but slow decline since. Not being attached to either of the coialition options may mean they get squeezed come May. Awkward times may lay ahead. 5/10
Sinn Féin : Started the year averaging 10%, ended averaging 8%. Like FG, the bright days of 2004, look long since past. Then they looked as if they were about to displace Labour as the third party in the state, but who would see that happening today, even given Labour's problems? Still being kept at arm's distance from the political mainstream in this country and if no major beneficial headlines start coming out of Northern Ireland, then it's hard to see a major breakthrough being made. That's not to say that a doubling of the TD count isn't on the cards, thanks to FF and FG troubles in Donegal and the northside of Dublin. 4/10