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Ireland votes on European fiscal compact


Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R). The latest polls indicate that the Irish will approve the austerity plan, bucking the recent voting trend in Greece, France and even Germany. But that doesn’t mean that the Irish are enthusiastic adherents of Merkel’s belt-tightening fixation.


Sean Gallup

LONDON, UK – Ireland is voting on whether to ratify the European Union’s fiscal compact, which tightens controls on member states’ budgetary decisions.

A high turn-out for Thursday's referendum is not anticipated, but polls suggest that a majority of voters will support amending Ireland's constitution to allow the treaty's ratification by the government, according to CNN. The final result is, however, uncertain, as a large number of voters remain undecided, analysts say.

In a TV address to the nation before campaigning came to a halt Wednesday, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny called on voters to approve the compact:

“I ask you to make a further contribution by coming out to vote 'yes' on Thursday. Yes to stability. Yes to investment. Yes to recovery. Yes to a working Ireland," he said, according to the BBC.

Calling for the treaty's rejection, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said the compact would not provide a solution to the euro zone crisis and would insert into the Irish constitution policies that had caused much hardship for Irish people, according to The Irish Times.

“I ask Irish citizens not to be bullied, not to give their democratic rights away, not to give up their say over Irish economic policy and not to write austerity into the constitution,” Adams said.

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Twenty-five of the EU’s 27 members have signed up to the new compact, which is designed to protect the euro currency from collapse and prevent a repeat of the Greek crisis, according to Sky News.

Only the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom have refused to support it. A "no" vote in Thursday’s referendum would probably not scupper the compact, as only 12 euro zone states have to ratify it before the treaty can come into force, but a negative vote would be politically explosive and prevent Dublin from accessing loans from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the successor to the euro zone’s current bailout fund.

Irish voters previously rejected European treaties in 2001 and 2008, although in replayed second referendums they accepted both texts. The results of today's referendum are not expected until late Friday. 

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