29th Mar 2023

Ireland strongly opposed to Lisbon revote

  • The Open Europe poll indicates the idea of a second EU vote not popular in Ireland (Photo: Open Europe)

Almost three quarters of Irish voters are opposed to the idea of a second vote on the EU's Lisbon treaty, according to a fresh poll.

The survey, revealed on Sunday (27 July), was commissioned by the London-based eurosceptic think-tank Open Europe, and carried out among 1,000 respondents between 21 and 23 July, shortly after a visit by French president Nicolas Sarkozy in Dublin.

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The leader of France, which currently hold the EU's six-month rotating presidency, last week proposed to the Irish prime minister, Brian Cowen, that a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty be held on the same day as elections to the European Parliament next June.

But the new poll signals that there is currently not much appetite among Irish voters to be asked about the same document again: 71 percent of respondents said they were against the move, compared to 24 percent who were in favour.

The survey also suggested that in the case of a repeated referendum, even more people would vote No than the first time around: 62 percent of those polled now said they would reject the treaty while just 38 percent would vote Yes.

On 12 June, 53.4 percent of the Irish voted against the Treaty and 46.6 percent in favour, on a 53.1 percent turnout.

Of those who had given their blessings to the EU's reform treaty back then, 17 percent now said they would vote against it, while six percent of former opponents would now vote in favour of the document.

The negative sentiment has also significantly grown among the citizens who did not take part in the first referendum: 57 percent would vote No, while 26 percent would vote Yes.

Juncker backs EU-wide message to the Irish

Since taking on his role as a temporary EU president, French president Sarkozy has been suggesting he would press hard for a solution to the current stalemate over the Lisbon treaty by the end of this year.

On his visit last week to Dublin however, he admitted the solution may not be found during his country's EU presidency while also denying that Ireland must vote again.

Luxembourg's prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker - who had previously faced a similar situation when French and Dutch voters rejected a European Constitution during his country's presidency in 2005 - has argued the Irish should vote again after they receive a new message of guarantees on national concerns.

"A unanimous decision from the European Council [representing 27 member states] promising not to interfere with the neutrality, abortion laws and taxation of Ireland" could "make the treaty comprehensible to the Irish," Mr Juncker said in an interview for Austrian paper Kurier, published on Saturday (26 July).

Meanwhile, the Irish government has initiated high-level contact with the two main opposition parties - Fine Gael and Labour - to discuss the formation of an all-party body on the Lisbon treaty, according to the Irish Times.

The new body would gather various opinions on how Dublin should proceed concerning the June referendum defeat, with the findings to be presented to other EU leaders at their top-level gatherings under the French helm in October and December.

Ratification map

Twenty out of 27 EU states have definitively ratified the EU treaty. Spain, Germany and Poland's parliaments have approved the text but the respective heads of state must still sign off on the document, with the German constitutional court still considering a legal challenge.

The Italian lower house is expected to back the text this week. Swedish MPs are set to pass the treaty without serious opposition when they begin their autumn session in September. And Czech deputies are planning to hold a vote in autumn, after the verdict of the country's constitutional court on a legal appeal.

The Lisbon treaty aims to reform the EU's decision-making and institutions as agreed in a basic package of changes already included in the European Constitution adopted in 2004.

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