Majority of people polled believe Germany is dominating direction of European Union

Sat, May 26, 2012, 01:00

ANALYSIS:Barring some dramatic event, Yes side should maintain its advantage come polling day

A FEATURE of the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll was the belief Germany is having a dominating influence on the direction of the European Union.

Asked if they believed there was an equal balance of power between all member states or whether one or two states dominated the EU, 77 per cent said one or two dominated; only 5 per cent felt there was an equal balance; 18 per cent didn’t know.

When asked to name which country dominated 69 per cent said Germany, 28 per cent opted for France, 1 per cent said the UK and another 1 per cent said Greece. Only 1 per cent of voters had no opinion on the issue.

The belief that Germany dominates the EU spanned all party supporters, regions and age groups.

Campaigners for and against the fiscal treaty have consolidated their support over the past five weeks but there has been little change in the proportion of the electorate planning to vote Yes and No, according to the poll.

With a week to go to polling it appears the main impact of the campaign has reduced the number of undecided voters, but they are breaking fairly evenly on both sides.

At a similar stage in the second Lisbon treaty referendum at the end of September 2009 there were fewer undecided voters, but the proportion of Yes and No supporters was similar.

In that referendum the momentum was clearly with the Yes side and the lead widened significantly in the final days.

This time around both sides have been holding their ground, and barring some dramatic event in the final days of the campaign the Yes side should maintain its lead until polling day.

Experienced observers of European referendums cannot recall a campaign where a Government has put in such a strong effort in favour of a Yes vote. The biggest Opposition party, Fianna Fáil, has also campaigned hard and unambiguously for a Yes.

The poll indicates that were it not for such a determined campaign by the Yes side there is every chance the No campaign might have taken the lead by this juncture.

One achievement of the campaign has been to eliminate the marked difference between men and women in terms of supporting the treaty. In both genders the Yes side now leads the No by nine points. This contrasts with the last poll where women were much less likely to favour a Yes.

Fine Gael voters are by far the strongest supporters of the treaty and are even more disciplined than Sinn Féin in backing the party line. Among Labour voters, however, a significant minority are in the No camp.

Among Fine Gael voters 74 per cent intend to vote Yes and 8 per cent No, while Labour voters back it by 46 per cent to 29 per cent. Fianna Fáil voters back the treaty by 50 per cent to 23 per cent, and Sinn Féin supporters reject it by 66 per cent to 13 per cent. Supporters of Independents and smaller parties are also against the treaty, by 41 per cent to 34 per cent. Green Party voters are also against.

In regional terms Dublin has swung behind the treaty since the last poll when the two sides were neck-and-neck in the capital. This time the Yes side is in the lead by 45 per cent to 29 per cent.

The Yes side is also ahead by 38 per cent to 28 per cent in Munster and the rest of Leinster. In Connacht and Ulster the margin is much tighter, with 39 per cent Yes and 36 per cent No.

As in the last Irish Times poll the Yes side has a strong lead among middle-class voters, but its lead among farmers has shrunk.

Among AB voters, the highest income bracket, 57 per cent are in favour of the treaty and 14 per cent are against. Among C1 middle-class voters 41 per cent are in favour and 28 per cent against.

Among lower-middle-class C2 voters the lead is smaller at 34 per cent to 31 per cent, and among the least well-off DE voters the No campaign is in the lead with 36 per cent to 31 per cent. There has been a big jump in the Yes support is this category.

Among farmers, 44 per cent are in favour, but the No side has jumped to 35 per cent.

People were also asked if they had voted in the last three EU referendums: 60 per cent of voters said they had; 18 per cent said they had voted in one or two; 18 per cent said they hadn’t voted in any of them. The DE social class were the least enthusiastic EU referendum voters with 51 per cent saying they voted in all three; farmers were the most likely to vote, and the best-off AB social class the next most likely.

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