Tuesday

23rd Apr 2019

Voting gap narrows ahead of Irish referendum

The gap between the "Yes" and the "No" camps ahead of the EU treaty referendum in Ireland has narrowed, according to the latest poll published on Sunday (25 May).

The survey for the Sunday Business Post shows that 41 percent plan to vote in favour of the treaty - a three percent increase on a similar poll two weeks ago.

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But the same survey showed that the No side has increased its share of the vote by five percent in the same period, with 33 percent saying they plan to reject the pact.

A quarter of the electorate remain undecided about how they will vote on 12 June.

The government welcomed the better showing for the "Yes" camp, but foreign minister Michael Martin admitted that "a lot of people" still had to make up their minds.

Declan Ganley, head of Libertas, one of the main organisations campaigning against the treaty, said: "We are seeing a referendum campaign that will go down to the wire. One thing is clear, the more people learn about Lisbon, the less they like it."

Pundits suggest that a low voter turnout will result in the treaty being rejected. Last week, Irish EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "When there is a high number of undecideds in a very complex debate … you'd be very much afraid that it would lead to a lower turnout."

Polls before the shock Irish rejection of the Nice Treaty in 2000 revealed a similar pattern. Turnout for that referendum was 34.8 percent.

According to a report in the Irish Times, the main political parties as well as pro-treaty groups are set to spend €2.3 million on a "Yes" campaign.

The new prime minister, Brian Cowen, has taken a very pro-active stance in favour of the treaty, forbidding dissent from within his centre-right party's ranks. Over the weekend, he called on the main opposition parties - the centre-right Fine Gael and Labour - to do more for the Yes campaign.

Germany ratifies Lisbon

But while Ireland struggles with the pressure of being the only one of 27 member states to have a referendum on the treaty, Germany on Friday (23 May) became the 14th country to ratify the document.

The document easily gained the necessary two-thirds majority in the upper house, with the lower house having overwhelmingly passed the charter last month.

The last step in the ratification process is signature by the country's president, Horst Kohler.

However, there are fears that this may be delayed due to a challenge in the country's constitutional court by conservative MP Peter Gauweiler.

Mr Gauweiler, who announced his legal challenge after Friday's vote, says the treaty gives too much power to EU institutions and undermines Germany's constitution.

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