Irish government support slumps in Dublin by-election

FILE PHOTO: Ireland's Prime Minister Micheal Martin speaks to the media as he arrives for the second face-to-face European Union summit since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium October 1, 2020. Francisco Seco/Pool via REUTERS

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Support for the party of Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin collapsed to under 5% in a parliamentary by-election and his coalition partners both suffered significant setbacks, deserted by voters angry about soaring housing costs.

Ivana Bacik, of the small centre-left opposition Labour party, looked set to win the Dublin Bay South seat, incomplete results showed on Friday, following a campaign focused on a housing crisis that has seen rents and house prices double in a decade.

The Fine Gael party of Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, which held what it views as a stronghold seat before one of its lawmakers resigned, looked set to come in second, with the dominant left-wing opposition party Sinn Fein third.

The other party in the governing three-way coalition, the Green Party, saw its proportion of first preference votes in the constituency fall to 8% from 22% at an election a year ago.

The director of election of Martin's Fianna Fail party, which secured 14% of first preference votes there in February 2020, called for a more radical approach to housing policy to stem the collapse in support for the party registered in recent opinion polls.

"I regret I don't think that Fianna Fail understand the scale of the problem in housing yet and we have to," Jim O'Callaghan told journalists.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by John Stonestreet)

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