'A rare piece of good news for EU leaders'


INTERNATIONAL REACTION:The ratification of the fiscal treaty made the news but won few major headlines in the international media yesterday.

French newspaper Le Monde reported on its website that the Irish oui meant the fiscal pact had overcome “a perilous obstacle”.

The result “gave new life” to the treaty but “fear of uncertainty” had played a decisive role in how Ireland voted.

Reporting from Dublin, its correspondent Benoît Vitkine noted that the breakdown of results showed that the Irish rural and middle class voted Yes, while inner city areas voted overwhelmingly against the treaty. The other divide, he observed, was generational: young people tended to vote No or abstain.

Coverage in Le Figaro focused on the immediate impact of the Yes vote. “The Irish Yes does not calm the markets,” it observed, while claiming “the vote of reason has prevailed over the rejection of austerity”.

In Germany, Der Spiegel ran the headline “Sigh of Relief” over its online coverage of the Irish vote and pointed out that the result was “a rare piece of good news for European leaders”.

Die Zeit noted that “the EU Commission was relieved” about the outcome of the vote and that “an Irish No would have intensified the debate about the need for strict austerity measures”.

In Spain, El País reported the Irish had “given the thumbs up” to the treaty by an overwhelming majority.

“The scope in margin is important as it can favourably influence pro-austerity parties in Greece and, above all, give ammunition to German chancellor Merkel to convince public opinion and her parliament of the need to transfer funds from the richer parts of Europe to countries with stimulus problems,” it said.

In its analysis, El Mundo noted that Ms Merkel had “always referred to the country of James Joyce and Guinness as a ‘magnificent example’ of austerity that works.”

Kremlin-funded Russia Today ran the headline “Ireland votes for austerity with EU gun to its head” over a report that was equally melodramatic.

“To force the voters to the booths, officials . . . evoked an apocalyptic scenario following a No vote,” it said. “The Government claimed that refusing to accept the pact would lead to a run on the banks, high international borrowing rates for the country, and a Greece-like spiral of economic decline.”

In the UK, the Guardian said “the resounding victory for the Yes campaign is something of a triumph for Ireland’s prime minister”.

It observed that, given the difficulties Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s predecessors had encountered with the initial Nice and Lisbon campaigns, the “decisive” result was a considerable achievement against a backdrop of recession, austerity and unemployment.

The Wall Street Journal described the Irish referendum as “a rare opportunity for ordinary people to weigh in on a pact that will have far-reaching implications for how governments manage their finances”. Ireland’s approval, it said, would “strengthen the country’s European credentials at a time when the European project is under threat from cracks in its currency union”.

The Washington Post said the fiscal treaty “won a decisive and much-needed victory in Ireland in a closely watched referendum”. The result, it said, provided “a rare reprieve for the region’s leaders from the string of recent blows to the crisis-hit euro zone”.