People in the Republic of Ireland are voting on whether to ratify the EU’s fiscal pact which seeks to impose strict limits on countries’ budget deficits.
Turnout is not expected to be high and it is thought cold wet weather may keep some voters at home.
Opinion polls have consistently suggested that a “yes” vote is likely.
In last-minute campaigning yesterday, Prime Minister Enda Kenny again urged people to vote in favour.
“Let’s send that signal out from this country, not only to the European Union, but to the entire world that this small country knows exactly where it is heading, and that’s in the right direction,” he said.
The “no” camp is tapping into resentment at years of hardship. Its campaigners were out on Wednesday arguing the pact would mean permanent austerity.
“There’s nothing in it about jobs or incentives or stimulation of the economy and that is, as we see it, the only way to get out of a recession and to get people back to work,” said Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein which is spearheading opposition to the pact along with a small number of trade unions.
The treaty needs the approval of only 12 of the eurozone’s 17 countries.
Only those that do so will be able to access future European bailout funds.
The outcome of Ireland’s vote is anxiously awaited in Brussels.