Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola virus: US health institute says cases could top 1.4 million by January

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

New "cuddles-only" dating app hits the market

Read more

DEBATE

Strikes Over Syria (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Is somthing a-brewing in Britain since Scottish referendum?

Read more

DEBATE

Strikes Over Syria

Read more

ENCORE!

30 years of Americana through Jean-Pierre Laffont's lens

Read more

FOCUS

A little bit of Africa in Paris

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Frenchman kidnapped in Algeria: 'IS'-linked jihadists claim abduction of 55-year-old tourist

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

EU budget deficits: Time to be more flexible?

Read more

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

FOCUS

FOCUS

Latest update : 2012-06-05

Ireland votes on eurozone treaty

Close to three million Irish people are eligible to vote on the EU Fiscal Treaty on Thursday 31 May. This referendum – the only one in Europe – is key to the future of a treaty designed to strengthen the euro by forcing governments to keep a strict balance between their income and spending.

The last opinion polls suggest roughly a 60% lead for the “yes” camp. This would be a commanding lead, even a done deal, if almost one voter out of four were not undecided, just a few days before the vote. Three opinions polls published on Sunday put the “Don’t Knows” between 16% and 27%. This indicates confusion over the main issues. According to one poll, one voter out of three does not understand the Fiscal Treaty, despite the energetic “yes” campaign led by the Irish government in recent weeks.

'If you don’t know, vote no'

The gap between the “yes” and the “no” is closing fast. And it is a source of concern for the Fine Gael (centre-right) and Labour coalition in power, which has put all its weight behind this referendum.

The turnout will be key to the outcome of the referendum. If below 50%, the “yes” side may be in trouble, as traditionally the “no” camp -- led in the opposition by Sinn Féin and the hard left -- is better at getting its supporters out to the polling stations. There is a saying about referendums in Ireland: “If you don’t know, vote no”. Ireland said “no” to the Lisbon Treaty, and to the Nice Treaty before that, on the first referendum held in both these cases. Irish voters later changed their minds on both these EU treaties, in a second referendum.

Will Ireland vote twice on the Fiscal Treaty?

The Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has ruled this out. But there is a view, shared by the right-wing think tank Libertas among others, that Ireland should vote “no”, and wait for another referendum when a growth and stimulus package is agreed by the EU member states.

There is a key difference between the Fiscal Treaty and past European treaties. In this case, it only takes twelve EU member states to ratify the Treaty before it is set in motion. Irish voters no longer have a veto. Eurozone countries can therefore go ahead without Ireland.

Fear versus weariness with austerity

Fear is the main weapon in the “yes” camp’s arsenal. In their opinion, the consequences of a “no” vote could be disastrous for Ireland and for Europe. “It would have the effect of putting into question the stability of our currency and the eurozone as a whole,” Ireland’s Europe Minister Lucinda Creighton said to France 24, “so I can’t really see any benefits of a “no” vote. I can see lots of consequences”. The Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore (Labour) told France 24: “I think the people of Ireland understand that this Treaty is necessary in order to help stabilise the euro; that it is necessary to ensure that there is investor confidence in Ireland to create jobs”.

For the Irish government and “yes” campaign, the main opponent in this referendum is the public’s weariness with austerity, after three years of recession. A regime of drastic reductions in public spending and higher taxes has been dictated by Europe and the IMF since the 2010 bailout.

“Austerity has failed here, failed miserably and it has no prospect of success,” argues Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald. “We need to trade and grow our way out of this. The Irish people are up for that, but they need the political expression to give leadership to that”.

£Twenty-five of the 27 EU governments have pledged to ratify this budgetary pact. Among the new rules, states will have to reduce their debt to a maximum of 60% of their total income or GDP (Gross National Product).

By Hervé AMORIC

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2014-09-23 business

A little bit of Africa in Paris

We take you on a guided tour of Paris - but don't expect just another report on the French capital's iconic landmarks. We're showing you the city's cultural diversity, and today...

Read more

2014-09-22 Paris

Why do international students choose Paris?

After the US and UK, France is one of the most popular destinations for international students with thousands coming to the French capital every year. Our reporters talked to...

Read more

2014-09-19 Russia

Ukraine's 'volunteer' battalions: Under Kiev's control?

Ukraine is offering temporary self-rule to areas of its eastern Donbass region currently controlled by separatists. It’s part of a ceasefire deal, but one that was virtually...

Read more

2014-09-18 children

Cleaning up Thailand's shady surrogacy industry

In the absence of rules, surrogacy has become a thriving - and shady - business in Thailand. But things could be about to change as a series of highly publicised cases have...

Read more

2014-09-17 referendum

Scottish referendum: Should I stay or should I go?

This Wednesday is the final day of campaigning before people living in Scotland vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom. Our correspondents in Scotland have been to...

Read more