The Irish vote today in a referendum on the EU’s Lisbon treaty, the result of which could put the cat among the pigeons again in Europe. With the outcome too close to call in opinion polls, a “no” vote would run against the tide that has seen 18 of the EU’s 27 member states’ parliaments already ratify the treaty. The latest are Estonia, Finland, and Greece, who did so last night. But Ireland is the only nation putting the question directly to its electorate.
“There has been some development in the last days in favour of a Yes and I hope that we can say on Friday, and they start counting the vote on Friday morning, that at the end there will be a Yes”, was the optimistic view of the President of the European parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, speaking in Brussels ahead of the vote.
However, he and others in the continental corridors of power fear a repeat of the Dutch and French electroshocks previously delivered to the EU Constitution three years ago. The Lisbon treaty is a supposedly softer version of that.
But for many Irish, not soft enough, as some fear it will strip them of their neutrality, raise taxes, and lead to the legalisation of abortion. The “yes” camp however points to the Irish economic miracle of the last 20 years, and argues it would have been impossible without the EU.