Traditionally Sinn Féin have been able to rely on a solid core of the working-class vote. For example, leading up to the Sinn Féin surge in the 2016 election, support was rising for the party among the working class and falling in the more professional and clerical occupations. In 2015, Sinn Féin established itself as the biggest party among working class voters, polling at an impressive 29% in this demographic. 

As the party has become more socially liberal, this has resulted in a noticeable split in opinion between the party leadership and those who vote Sinn Féin. In the same year that Sinn Féin reached 29% among working class voters, polling also showed that their base was the most anti-migrant in the country. With 70% opposed to settling migrants in Ireland, their voter base was significantly above the national average.

Sinn Féin’s Nativist Heartland

This could be explained by a 2018 Study by the Stockholm University which found a strong link between anti-immigrant sentiment and lower income demographics in Ireland. As migration becomes more pertinent for the general population, 19% saying it’s within the two most important issues, it’s reasonable to assume this is now chipping into Sinn Féin’s working class voter base. Only a few months ago Sinn Féin were polling at a staggering 36%. Since the migration crisis escalated, this has dropped dramatically to 31%. 

With the party now having a deeply entrenched leftist leadership, Sinn Féin are now directly opposed to the majority opinion in the demographic that was once the party’s core voter base. With many of the recent protests happening in working class areas, Sinn Féin are arguably being pushed to move into the centre to compensate for working class disillusionment with the party. Appealing to the middle-class would appear to be a safe bet for Sinn Féin, given that studies have shown lower anti-immigrant sentiment among that demographic when compared to lower socio-economic groups in Ireland.

Nouveaux Riches

We’ve already seen the party try to cement their ties to the middle class at the expense of their working class appeal. In 2011, Sinn Féin TDs were only allowed to take the average industrial wage, the party advocated a 48% tax rate for incomes over €100,000 and a 1% wealth tax on those with assets over €1 Million. Since then, the party has completely moderated its tax policy, abandoned the average industrial wage rule and notably dropped its opposition to the special criminal court. 

This is bearing fruit, with polling near the end of last year showing that Sinn Féin was the most popular party among Irish Middle-Class voters. The party may now see this demographic as a more reliable voting base for the party to stay above water during the migration crisis.

Change Brewing

There has long been a section of the Irish population that has been left in the political wilderness, unrepresented. With recent polling showing that many of the small leftist parties are at risk of being completely eradicated in the next election, growing support for independents and others, Sinn Féin ceding the working class vote and a growing divide between the establishment parties and public opinion, the section of the population without electoral representation will only grow. 

Irish electoral politics has a vacuum in it which should be filled with a right-wing populist option. Our lack of representation for what is quickly approaching ¼ of the population makes us unique in Europe. The impact that this vacuum will have on Irish political life following a Sinn Féin Government remains to be seen.

Posted by Charlie Kennedy


  1. Ivaus@thetricolour 07/03/2023 at 11:54 pm

    Sham Fein, stood by and watched Charley Boy and fellow criminal Van d LierLier carve up protocol and GFA, with Westminster Whitewash, first to applaud the destruction of United Ireland…what a Republican performance


  2. Photogenic Holly may hoover up 10 % in the next GE . If so , S F won’t break 30 % . FF / FG will be in for another term .


  3. Daniel BUCKLEY 09/03/2023 at 2:45 am

    Sinn Fein support for abortion , OPEN borders Plantion Migration, extreme Covid Lockdowns and Apartheid diktats has made them electorally irrelevant.
    The veil has dropped from the eyes of the People and the propganda pills no longer work.
    The Fat Lady will not be singing at the GE and the People of Ireland will have dodged a bullet.


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