17th Jan 2019

Ireland looks set for Yes vote in Lisbon referendum

  • The final result is expected Saturday afternoon (Photo: EUobserver)

Early indications show that there is likely to be a convincing Yes for the Lisbon Treaty following Ireland's second referendum on the document on Friday (2 October.)

With counting underway since 9am local time on Saturday morning, preliminary tallies are indicating that Irish citizens have changed their mind since their shock rejection of the treaty 16 months ago.

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Anticipating the Yes result, foreign minister Michael Martin said: "I am delighted for the country. It looks like a convincing win for the 'Yes' side on this occasion."

An exit poll conducted yesterday by the opposition Fine Gael party suggested a two thirds majority in favour of the treaty while other indications show a Yes result of between 50 and 60 percent.

The No side has conceded defeat. "It looks like a Yes vote," said Richard Greene, spokesman for Cóir, a socially-conservative group which mounted an eye-catching poster campaign against the treaty, including one with the claim that the minimum wage would be reduced to €1.84.

Joe Higgins, a centre-left MEP who had argued that the treaty would reduce workers' rights and undermine public services, joked that there should be a "replay," as both sides now had one point under their belts.

Libertas leader Declan Ganley, who was instrumental in the No side's win in June 2008, accepted that early tallies represent "a very convincing win," calling the government's campaign "masterful" even if he did not agree with its premises.

He also said he was deliberating whether to "go quietly" from the political scene, after having been advised to do so by a Yes side politician.

A clear indication of the results is expected at lunchtime, while the final outcome is expected to be announced in the early afternoon.

EU reactions flood in

EU politicians are already lining up to welcome the result.

"I particularly commend the Irish voters for the wisdom they exercised in distinguishing between the truth and the lies which unfortunately played such a prevalent part of this campaign," the leader of the centre-right EPP group in the European Parliament, Joseph Daul, said.

Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, now a liberal MEP, said he believed Irish voters swung to a Yes because they saw that Europe was a "very positive instrument" in the economic crisis.

A spokesman for Polish President Lech Kaczynski also said the eurosceptic politician will sign off on the treaty on behalf of his country in line with earlier promises.

"In all certainty it won't be a matter of months. I don't think we'll be talking of a matter of weeks either," Mr Kaczynski's aide, Wladyslaw Stasiak, told the Polish Dziennik newspaper on Saturday.

The presidents of Poland and the Czech Republic need to sign the treaty to complete ratification in their countries. But with a constitutional challenge to the treaty underway in the Czech Republic, it remains unclear when president Vaclav Klaus will sign the agreement.

The constitutional court will in three weeks time set a date for a public hearing on the case - something expected to take place in November.

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