Economy played key role in treaty vote, poll finds

 

IRISH VOTERS changed their minds and backed the Lisbon Treaty because they felt better-informed and believed a Yes vote would boost the economy.

Two-thirds of people also found the Yes campaign more convincing than the No campaign, according to a poll conducted by the European Commission.

One-quarter of people surveyed switched their vote from a No in 2008 to a Yes in 2009 because they believed the treaty would help the economy through the economic recession.

Some 29 per cent say they changed their vote to a Yes mainly due to increased information and communication, while 21 per cent of voters claimed they felt more engaged in the public debate.

The EU executive commissioned the telephone poll of 2,000 people in Ireland to study the voting behaviour of citizens and measure the efficiency of the information campaigns in the lead-up to the vote on October 2nd.

It concludes, the “Yes campaign was successful not only in safeguarding the already existing support basis for the treaty, but also in counteracting the effects of the No campaign”.

An increased level of information about the treaty and the effectiveness of the Yes campaign led to the positive result when a majority of people voted in favour of the treaty, says the survey.

The results show 67 per cent of people found the Yes campaign more convincing than the No campaign in 2009, a complete reversal of the situation after the first No vote in 2008. The Government was widely criticised for its handling of the 2008 campaign when a similar post-referendum poll showed 67 per cent found the No campaign more effective.

The most important reason cited by 51 per cent of Yes voters for backing the treaty was that the “EU has been good for Ireland and Ireland has got a lot of benefit from the EU”. Some 44 per cent of Yes voters said the treaty was good for Ireland while one-third said a Yes vote would help the Irish economy.

Following the No vote in the first referendum, just 9 per cent of Yes voters cited the Irish economy as one of their main reasons for backing the Lisbon Treaty.

Just a small fraction of Yes voters cited specific improvements the treaty would make to the union – such as making it more democratic (2 per cent) or ensuring the rights of citizens are better protected (3 per cent) – as a factor.

Almost one-third of No voters (30 per cent) said they voted No to protect Irish identity while a fifth said they voted against the treaty because they didn’t trust politicians. A further 13 per cent voted No to protest against Government policies, while 10 per cent said they rejected the treaty because of increasing unemployment.

In 2008 the most common reason cited by No voters (22 per cent) was their unfamiliarity with the treaty. The 2009 survey said just 12 per cent of No voters cited this as a reason for their No vote.

The survey, which will be published in coming days, shows that all age categories showed a majority in favour of the treaty. However, the highest number of No voters (38 per cent) was found in those aged between 18 and 24 years.

The lowest support for the treaty was found among students and those in manual jobs. There was also a significant increase in the number of women voting Yes at 64 per cent in 2009, which compares to 42 per cent in 2008.

Young people and women have both been actively targeted by the commission and the Yes campaign since the first Lisbon referendum.

Lisbon Treaty: reasons for voting

TOP 5 REASONS FOR VOTING YES

EU has been/is good for Ireland 51%

The treaty is good for Ireland/ it was

in the best interest of Ireland 44%

It will help the economy 33%

Maintain Irish influence in Europe 11%

The treaty is good for the EU 17%

TOP 5 REASONS FOR VOTING NO

To protect Irish identity 30%

I do not trust our politicians 20%

To protest against the Government’s policies 12%

To safeguard Irish neutrality 11%

Increasing unemployment 10%