Lifecycle marketing for politics in Ireland

I was going through the Irish Sunday Independent to read coverage of the Irish rugby union squad’s win against their Australian counterparts when I came across this chart of data looking the standings of the different political parties.
Fianna Fail research Sunday Independent
A little bit of background before I delve into things:

  • The Irish Independent is a paper that has traditionally supported Fine Gael and up until 1995, went head-to-head with The Irish Press
  • Fianna Fail and their rival Fine Gael are both quite similar centre-right parties. The difference between them comes from the history at the foundation of modern Ireland. Up until recently, the reason why you voted for one over the other was to do with family, tradition and to a lesser extent personality. Over the history of the Irish Republic, Fianna Fail has historically enjoyed more time in office
  • A background of government corruption investigated by a plethora of government tribunals and perceived financial mismanagement that led up to the banking crisis meant that Fianna Fail got punished in the polls by the Irish electorate

Looking at the election data I was struck by how the Fianna Fail party vote was skewed from a demographic point-of-view:

  • Fianna Fail has a broadly consistent level of support across age groups with a dip for middle-aged voters (presumably because they have been hit the hardest in terms of assets lost during the ongoing financial crisis)
  • In the 65+ years age group however Fianna Fail gets twice the percentage of votes that everyone else has given them
  • This is mirrored in the amount of support they get from the F socio-economic class indicating an electorate not actively engaged from an economic point-of-view
  • Fianna Fail’s support is geographically skewed towards the least productive areas of the country with the harshest agricultural conditions and least economic development, again with an older population

It is a political party with an engaged electorate that is literally dying off. In this respect at least, Fianna Fail is keeping good company:

  • Harley Davidson suffered from this problem
  • Numerous cigarette brands: Woodbines, Senior Service have also suffered from a diminishing clientele

So what’s a party to do? If one looks at the likes of the UK Labour Party, it took a decade and a half for the party to reinvent itself after Michael Foot’s disastrous election campaign. It needs to:

  • Exorcise the past, cutting out the taint of corruption and that means pushing aside a lot of the existing politicians
  • Bring in new people and new ideas
  • It needs to stand for something that people will care about and get behind. It could do worse than look at the recent German Pirate Party success in Berlin state elections if it is to get younger voters on side with ideas ranging from online file sharing to social and community issues