Treaty opponents saw few risks in voting No

Wed, Jun 18, 2008, 01:00

SURVEY FINDINGS:THREE-QUARTERS of people who voted No in Ireland's referendum on the Lisbon Treaty believed that the text could be renegotiated later by the Government.

But just 40 per cent of Yes voters thought it would be possible to renegotiate the treaty in the event that Irish voters rejected it, a survey has shown.

A telephone poll commissioned by the European Commission in conjunction with the Taoiseach's office also found that 80 per cent of No voters support Irish membership of the EU.

Three quarters of No voters also believe that rejecting the treaty would have no impact on the Irish economy.

A majority of Yes voters, some 55 per cent, thought that rejecting the Lisbon Treaty would hurt the Irish economy while 67 per cent of Yes voters believed that a No vote would weaken Ireland's influence within the EU, according to the preliminary findings of the poll of 2,000 voters taken at the weekend.

When asked to give a single reason for voting No, 40 per cent of people replied that they didn't understand the treaty. A fifth of respondents said they voted No to protect Irish identity while 17 per cent of respondents said they didn't trust politicians or Government policies.

Other reasons cited for voting No were: to protect Irish neutrality (10 per cent); to keep an Irish EU commissioner (10 per cent); and to protect the tax system (8 per cent).

A majority of women voted No while most men voted Yes.

Young people between the age of 15 and 29 voted against the treaty by a factor of two to one, a finding that is labelled as "very serious" in an explanation of the referendum result prepared for commission president José Manuel Barroso. The explanation concludes that those on the No side in the referendum campaign saw little negative consequences arising from their vote.

"It's almost risk-free," notes the paper, which cautions that the results of the survey are compiled from early data.

When asked what the No vote would mean in the future, 84 per cent of people said it would keep Ireland's tax system; 83 per cent said it would keep Irish neutrality; 77 per cent said the Government would renegotiate; 60 per cent said the Nice Treaty would remain in place; and 59 per cent said that Irish decisions on abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage would prevail.

The paper says that most people who abstained from voting in the referendum said they needed more information. A more comprehensive analysis of the results will probably be published by the commission later this week.