Far stronger No vote in poorer areas suggests shift to class politics for some
ANALYSIS:The treaty was largely backed by voters in rural and middle-class areas and the No vote did well in working-class areas
THE RESULTS of the EU fiscal treaty referendum show signs of a significant divide between poorer and more affluent areas.
However, opinion is mixed over whether this represents a historic shift towards social class-based politics in Ireland, as is common in European countries.
In general, the referendum was supported by voters in rural constituencies and middle-class areas in urban centres, while the No vote was much stronger in working-class areas.
The highest Yes votes were recorded in the most affluent urban constituencies of Dún Laoghaire (74 per cent voted in favour, 26 per cent against) and Dublin South East (72 per cent for and 28 per cent against).
In contrast, the highest No votes were recorded in Donegal, which has a history of bucking the national trend, and Dublin constituencies with high concentrations of working-class voters.
These included Dublin North West (47 per cent voted in favour, 53 per cent against), Dublin South Central (49 per cent in favour, 51 per cent against) and Dublin South West (49 per cent in favour, 51 per cent against).
The social polarisation was most striking at local level. Tallymen recorded No votes of up to 85 and 90 per cent in traditionally disadvantaged areas such as Ballymun. This pattern was reversed in more privileged areas such as Sandymount, with some precincts reporting Yes votes of close to 80 per cent.
In Cork too, the social divide was clear. Cork North Central came closest to rejecting the treaty (52 per cent voted Yes, 48 per cent voted No), compared with its more affluent neighbour Cork South Central (62 per cent voted Yes, 38 per cent voted No).
As with Dublin, tallymen reported No votes of up to 85 per cent in disadvantaged parts of Cork North Central. Similarly, in Waterford city, largely working-class areas such as Ballybeg recorded No votes of close to 90 per cent.
“It’s quite socially polarised,” said United Left Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett. “The manual working-class areas have voted highly No because the people have been the biggest victims of austerity. They have rejected the Government’s advice.”
Fine Gael TD and Minister of State Brian Hayes, however, said talk of a class divide in Irish politics was being “over-egged”.
He said one-third of housing in his Dublin South West constituency – which narrowly rejected the referendum – consisted of local authority homes. Some of those estates, he said, returned a significant Yes vote.