One-fifth voted Yes to boost economy


LISBON REFERENDUM:SOME 20 per cent of the people who voted to ratify the Lisbon Treaty last year did so because they thought it would be good for the economy, taxes, jobs or funding from the EU, a new report has found.

The figure was 17 percentage points higher than in 2008, when only 3 per cent voted Yes because it would be good for the economy.

Attitudes and Behaviour in the Second Referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon also found only 8 per cent of those surveyed said they voted Yes because the Government, political parties, business leaders or the media were in favour.

The report was released to coincide with the first anniversary of the Irish vote to accept the Lisbon Treaty, on October 2nd, 2009.

It was the second time Ireland voted on the treaty after rejecting it on the first occasion in May 2008.

Prepared by the Geary Institute and the school of politics and international relations at UCD, the report was based on a survey commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs and carried out by Millward Brown Lansdowne in November 2009. The data was compared with a survey carried out after the first referendum.

The report found only 1 per cent of those who voted in favour of accepting the treaty were influenced by the additional guarantees on taxes, neutrality and the permanent commissioner obtained by the Government after the initial defeat.

It found 42 per cent of people who voted Yes believed the EU was good for Ireland and 40 per cent felt voting Yes was “the right thing to do”.

The report said the short answer to the question as to how the Yes side won the second referendum was that its 2008 vote remained remarkably solid and it managed to persuade one in four of those who had voted No to switch.

Despite a high rate of persistent abstention, the Yes side also succeeded in mobilising in its favour the votes of one-sixth of those who had abstained in 2008.

One of the main attitudes that influenced voter choice in the second referendum was the belief that Irish membership of the EU was a good thing, the report found.

The “second ingredient was the economy and specifically the belief that the Yes vote would result in an improvement in Ireland’s economic prospects”.

The report also found it was helpful that domestic politics, “specifically the extensive unpopularity of the incumbent Government”, had only a limited effect on voter choice.

Knowledge of the EU did not affect voter choice in the way it had done in the first referendum.

The referendum process was inherently challenging, the report concluded. The best preparation for the challenges was “enhanced deliberation and debate about European issues on a continuing basis and certainly before, not after, referendum battle is joined”.

Speaking yesterday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said it was clear most Irish people believed the EU was good for Ireland and our economic wellbeing was linked to it.