Yes campaign for fiscal treaty holding its lead, poll shows

Sat, May 26, 2012, 01:00

THE YES campaign has maintained its lead in the run-up to the European fiscal treaty referendum on Thursday, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

However, the outcome is still in the hands of undecided voters.

Asked how they were likely to vote on the treaty, 39 per cent of voters said Yes, 30 per cent said No, 22 per cent said they did not know, and 9 per cent said they would not be voting.

When the 31 per cent of undecided and non-voters are excluded, support for the Yes side stands at 57 per cent with No support at 43 per cent.

Support for the Yes side has increased by nine points since the last Irish Times poll five weeks ago, while support for the No side has gone up by seven points.

The number of undecided voters has come down by 17 points since the last poll.

The poll was taken between lunchtime on Wednesday and lunchtime yesterday among a representative sample of 1,000 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all 43 constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent.

Apart from reducing the number of undecided voters, the strong campaigns being waged by the Yes and No sides have resulted in stalemate with no significant shift in support since the campaign began.

After the exclusion of undecided and non-voters, the Yes side is down one point and the No side up one point compared to five weeks ago. However, it would take a dramatic shift to the No side in the final days for the treaty to be defeated.

At a similar stage in the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in September 2009, the Irish Times poll produced a similar result with 59 per cent Yes and 41 per cent No after the exclusion of undecided voters.

In the event, the treaty was carried by 67 per cent to 33 per cent.

Still, the Government will be worried the number of undecided voters remains stubbornly high and is capable of changing the outcome.

On the positive side for the Government, there has been a big change in public opinion since last October when the fiscal treaty was still being negotiated. At that stage, just 37 per cent said they would vote Yes while 63 per cent said No.

The details of today’s poll show the Yes campaign continues to have strong backing from middle-class voters while working-class voters remain opposed to the treaty.

One big change is that the significant gender difference has been eliminated, with both men and women now equally supportive of the treaty.

In party terms, Fine Gael voters are easily the strongest supporters of the treaty, with 74 per cent Yes and just 8 per cent No. Labour voters are less committed, with 46 per cent Yes and 29 per cent No. Fianna Fáil voters back the treaty by 50 per cent to 23 per cent.

Sinn Féin supporters are the strongest opponents with 66 per cent No to 13 per cent, while supporters of Independents and small parties are against by 41 per cent to 34 per cent.

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.

In age terms, the strongest support for the treaty was among the over-65s, while the strongest support for the No campaign comes from the 50-64 age group.

The poll also revealed a belief among Irish voters that 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 while only 5 per cent felt there was an equal balance. Some 18 per cent didn’t know.

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