The Irish gambling landscape is set to face some major changes in the coming months, but what has been a surprise to many is the mass seat gains of Sinn Féin.
Speaking to Joe Lee, Head of Political Betting at Paddy Power, he explained that punters are backing a second general election before the end of the year, while a Fianna Fail, Sinn Féin and Green Party coalition is currently a punter favourite.
Sinn Féin seems to have shocked much of the electorate with its significant gain in seats. Has this been the biggest political upset of 2020?
Joe Lee: There’s no debating that this was an Irish political landscape game changing election but to call it the biggest political upset of 2020 might be a little premature considering it’s only February and we’ll have the US going to the polls in a Presidential Election in November!
Sinn Féin have most likely shocked themselves as much as anybody else. The fact that it decided to run only 42 candidates, securing 37 of the 160 seats, was evidence that Sinn Féin did not expect this level of success. Our early seat projections had them in the high teens or low twenties.
In this election, to the surprise of many, no one party has gained an outright majority. Are punters showing any backing towards a particular coalition agreement? Or could we see a stalemate in the Dáil?
JL: The last majority government in Ireland was Fianna Fail back in the ’70s, so the fact that a coalition will be required is no real surprise, however the parties that may come together could be. FF topped the seat count with 38, but that’s a long way from the ’50s where they were projected.
With such a significant shift, it’s the first time in the history of the state where no two parties can come together and form a majority. With that in mind the current favourite (3/1) in terms of a coalition government is for Fianna Fail, Sinn Féin and Green Party to come together.
These combined would see 87 seats and exceed the 80 required. Next most popular with punters is a substitution of the Social Democrats (a relatively new party) for the Green Party; at 7/1 there may be a little value here but the total seats wouldn’t give much wriggle room with 81.
Could we see Ireland looking for another general election by the end of 2020?
JL: A stalemate is a strong possibility with plenty of pundits suggesting this would be a mistake with some very important Brexit related trade deals on the horizon. But given an unclear picture and the noises coming from party members across the spectrum around early-stage negotiations to form a coalition, 5/2 about another Irish General Election in 2020 has been very popular with punters.
This is not only a winner if a Government fails to be formed, but also should an unstable government come crashing down before December; a relatively strong possibility given the divided nature of this election.