4th Jun 2023

Lack of information was top reason for Lisbon No vote

  • Irish voters felt they did not know enough about the Lisbon Treaty to give it their approval (Photo: EUobserver)

Irish government research into why voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a June referendum has revealed that the biggest reason for voting No was citizens simply did not have enough information about the 400-page document.

A combination of a survey of voters and focus groups revealed that 42 percent of people said they had voted No due to a lack of information or understanding.

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Neutrality and taxation issues also played key roles in people's thinking.

A third of voters in neutral Ireland thought that the treaty would permit conscription into a European army. Many left wing and pacifist No campaign groups made the "militarisation of Europe" a core message in their anti-Lisbon literature.

Forty percent thought the treaty would affect the country's low corporate tax levels - a key message of the free-market No campaign group Libertas.

Fears relating to what could loosely be described as Ireland's place in the European Union also had an impact, with 13 percent worried about domination by larger countries; five percent believing the treaty represented a loss of sovereignty; four percent worried about the loss of an Irish commissioner; and some eight percent just thought overall it was "a bad deal for Ireland."

Some six percent voted No due to their lack of confidence in the Irish government.

Despite media reports to the contrary in the immediate aftermath of the June vote, immigration did figure amongst the reasons offered.

The research has also revealed that the No vote was not a vote against the EU, but a vote against this particular document, as 70 percent of voters overall and 63 percent of No voters believed the union is a good thing.

Unlike other polls about the No vote, citizens were not given a list of possible reasons from which to choose. Instead they offered their own explanations.

Unveiling the results, foreign minister Micheal Martin said that the government would still not be able to deliver to European leaders a way out of the impasse by the next EU summit, due to take place in October.

Questioned by reporters about whether a second referendum on the treaty was under consideration, Mr Martin said: "It is far too early to be prescriptive about the future."

The minister said that the government was "examining all options," and did not rule out passing elements of the treaty through the Irish houses of parliament, reports the Irish Times.

Mr Martin added that the next step is "to initiate a national public discussion that would be inclusive of the issues that have surfaced" from the survey.

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