Ireland votes in a referendum on Thursday about whether to approve the terms of the EU fiscal pact that was agreed in March.
It’s the only country putting the treaty, which aims to reintroduce strict discipline into national budgets, to a public vote.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Irish are expected to put anger about deep austerity measures to one side to give it a resounding thumbs up. Analysts say voters are fearful that without EU support, the country would go bankrupt.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny told reporters: “That’s my message to the Irish people, I would ask them in the country’s interest to be sure to pick up their responsibility and go out and vote a resounding ‘yes’ and let’s send that signal out from this country not only to the European Union but to the entire world.”
But with tens of thousands of Irish emigrating due to the lack of prospects in the former ‘Celtic Tiger’, support for the anti-austerity party Sinn Fein has reached record levels.
“This treaty is not good for Ireland, it isn’t good for the European Union,” said Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. “It’s about austerity in perpetuity, it’s about giving away democratic rights.”
With property prices down 50% since their peak, some commentators think a ‘no’ vote is still possible.
While it wouldn’t block the fiscal pact in Europe, it would send a strong message to Brussels.