Turnout ranks fifth out of nine European votes

Sat, Jun 2, 2012, 01:00

VOTER TRENDS:TURNOUT IN the fiscal treaty referendum of 50.6 per cent is the fifth highest in nine European plebiscites over the past 40 years.

Ireland’s love of voting in European referendums was never greater than when the State voted to join the then EEC in 1972.

An enthusiastic 70.9 per cent of the electorate turned out and a massive 83 per cent favoured joining. And there has never been a higher turnout than in the first referendum undertaken by the State, when 75.80 per cent voted in 1937 on the adoption of the new Constitution.

There have been 35 referendums in the State’s history on issues ranging from abortion to bail, citizenship to the voting system. The lowest turnout was in 1979, when just 28.6 per cent turned out for the referendums on change to university representation in the Seanad and on adoption.

The lowest turnout in a European referendum was in 2001 for the first Nice treaty on EU enlargement when just 34.79 per cent of the eligible population voted.

Before that just 44.1 per cent of eligible citizens voted in 1987 on the Single European Act, to create a single market.

There was a significant increase five years later when 57.3 per cent voted on the Maastricht treaty to create the euro currency.

In 1992 there was a slight drop to a 56.2 per cent turnout for the Amsterdam treaty, which amended Maastricht, gave more powers to the European parliament and involved institutional reforms in the run-up to enlargement.

Ireland’s first No to the EU was in the first Nice treaty with a 34.79 turnout, which increased to 49.47 for Nice two(with a Yes outcome).

There was a 53.13 per cent turnout for the first Lisbon treaty referendum in 2008, which rose by more than 5.5 per cent for the second Lisbon referendum.