Lisbon Treaty Referendum - "NO" result is almost certain
Would you be brave enough to predict the outcome?
Early today I spoke with two contacts that I have who work for EU in Brussels. They were very worried by the possibility that the Lisbon treaty might be rejected. I suspect that they are even more concerned now that the turnout has proved to be rather low. Myself I work for a international organisation where most of the workforce spend up to 80% of their time abroad and I was surprised by the number of people who were planning to vote "NO".
Polls have closed in the vote on the European Union's new Lisbon Treaty.
Counting begins at 9am tomorrow morning and results should be announced by early evening.
Turn-out is estimated to be at around 40%. It was suggested by the experts that if the turnout was below 40% then the result would be a "NO" so it is going to be very close.
Voting was reported to be fairly slow in many areas. Reports also suggest that voting was heavier in urban than in rural areas.
It also appears that turnout was higher in middle class than in working class districts, which would be in line with normal election and referendum patterns.
===DAY BEFORE THE VOTE TAKES PLACE===
Après the vote
RTÉ.ie/lisbon has complete coverage of the Lisbon Treaty
The different scenarios: A look at what would happen if Ireland rejects, or accepts, the Treaty.
Scenario one: If Ireland votes No...
The Treaties currently in operation in the EU, last amended by the Nice Treaty, will remain standing as they are now.
The European reaction to Ireland's result is open to conjecture and has been predicted to range from EU-wide chaos to virtually no reaction at all. Commission President José Manuel Barroso has re-iterated that there is no 'Plan B' if Ireland rejects the ratification of Lisbon.
It is possible that Ireland would hold another referendum later in the year, perhaps after further negotiations, to keep the door open for Ireland to get on board with the Treaty. There is also the possibility that the other 26 countries will continue with the ratification process and all Member States, bar Ireland, will move forward with the Lisbon Treaty. In this situation, Ireland would have to negotiate how it would engage with this group.
The Yes side says that if Ireland rejects it, the Treaty will collapse and Member States will come together in groups to move forward on areas where they have been frustrated by the Irish vote.
The No side says that a 'no' vote opens up an opportunity for re-negotiation for a more favourable Treaty for Ireland.
Scenario two: If Ireland votes Yes...
If each of the other Member States successfully ratifies the Treaty, The Treaty amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community, (i.e. The Lisbon Treaty), will come into effect on 1 January 2009.
Every country keeps its veto on military matters.
Every country keeps its veto on taxation issues. Other Member States cannot run an enhanced co-operation if it conflicts with the laws of the Union or distorts competition.
Guidelines will be laid down for leaving the EU if a Member State so chooses. There is also an article outlining how the EU will react towards a Member State which breaches the EU's objectives as laid down in the Treaties. The Council may decide to suspend that Member States' voting rights in the Council.
The clause known as the 'Citizens' Initiative' will be introduced whereby not less than 1m citizens from a significant number of Member States can submit a legislative proposal to the Commission for its consideration, (but must be related to the Treaties and the Commission is not compelled to act on it after the period of consideration).
The new office of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will replace both the EC vice-president and the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy positions simultaneously. Javier Solana, currently the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, is rumoured to be in line for the position, if he is not too exhausted by that time.
The European Parliament will become an EU institution and, operating under 'co-decision' together with the Council, will legislate on a wide area of EU competence. This adoption procedure means that the Council of the EU (representing the people) and the European Parliament (representing the States) can both reject a proposal of the Commission. This extension of the co-decision procedure applies to judicial and police co-operation.
The European Parliament and the Council will now determine together all annual expenditures, and the Parliament must approve the multi-annual agreement that frames the level and structure of the EU budget for a seven-year period.
The European Parliament will also have to approve the international agreements signed by the EU in a large number of areas.
The European Central Bank will become one of the official institutions of the EU, bound by the same code as the other institutions. The Lisbon Treaty does not include an article that ensures the bank's independence.
The Charter on Fundamental Human Rights is granted full legal status through the Lisbon Treaty.
The European Council will become an official EU institution under the Lisbon Treaty, with a President holding office for a term of 2.5 years. Currently, this position is rotated between the Member States every six months. Persons rumoured to have an interest in the position include Tony Blair and serving Commission President, José Manuel Barroso.
The 'pillar structure' of the EU would be abolished under Lisbon, creating one EU legal personality. The 'pillar structure' refers to the way the EU current operates. The first pillar covers the European Community, which currently has legal personality. The second pillar covers Common Foreign and Security Policy. The third pillar concerns Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters. These three currently comprise the EU and will be consolidated into one legal form if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified.
The 'solidarity clause' obliges Member States to assist one another if attacked or if struck by a natural disaster but does not specify what kind of assistance should be offered.
The Nice Treaty reduces the number of Commissioners regardless of what happens in the Lisbon Treaty referendum but there is a get-out clause to delay or cancel the reduction if the Member States unanimously agree to bin the idea.
Ireland is already part of the Euratom Treaty since 1973 and has to continue to contribute financially to research programmes under Euratom.
Another opinion poll has found a big increase in opposition to the Lisbon Treaty.
However, according to the Red C poll in the Sunday Business Post, the Yes side is marginally ahead. The poll also found that among those who say they are certain to vote, the Yes side is even further ahead.
It shows the Yes vote at 42%, an increase of 1%.
However, like the poll in the Irish Times, it shows the No side gaining more, 6% to 39%.
With the exception of Sinn Fein all the political parties here in Ireland support a "yes" vote but they have managed the campaign so badly that at this stage the most likely outcome will be a rejection of the Lisbon treaty. A "NO" vote could result in EU chaos.
While the "Yes" campaign may have been badly managed the "No" campaign has been misleading and somewhat dishonest in that the EU is being blamed for every possible current and future problem. Some people had even been convinced that the Pope had instructed that catholics must vote "No". If you really want to be confused read the item below "The Pope And The Lisbon Treaty".
The "NO" people are using every trick in the book including some rather attractive graffiti on or near the famous "U2 Wall".
I will publish some photographs of the campaign posters to give a flavour of what is being claimed by the various parties. during the early stages of the campaign Labour party members produced posters on which "vote yes" was printed in such small text that it was unreadable.
The latest opinion poll on the Lisbon Referendum is showing the 'No' side surging ahead in a dramatic reversal of opinion.
Thousand of column inches and kilobytes throughout the EU have been dedicated to Ireland's unique position as the only member country to vote on the Lisbon Treaty.
Finnish paper Helsingin Sanomat writes that Ireland is currently the most influential country in Europe as the other 26 Member States await the results of the referendum on 12 June
Denmark's Politiken writes of the impact the Irish referendum will have on the future of the EU.
Dziennik in Poland has quoted Commission President José Manuel Barroso saying there is no plan B if Ireland rejects the Treaty.
The Lithuanian press criticised their Government's refusal to put the Treaty to a citizens' vote, and the British papers have been covering the campaigns for Gordon Brown to approve a referendum before UK ratification of the Treaty.
The campaign for a referendum in the UK has been covered across a range of publications and last weekend's papers reported that the English High Court is hearing a legal challenge against Gordon Brown on the referendum issue - on the same day as the Irish referendum.
Sweden is not due to ratify the Lisbon Treaty until after the Irish electorate has voted and, mindful that the Irish result could determine the future of the Treaty, its press has carried opinion pieces urging Ireland's approval of the Treaty. A no vote, Dagens Nyheter newspaper warns, could result in EU chaos.
The uncertainty of the outcome has been of interest to many European newspapers and notably the continually wavering results of the Irish opinion polls. The Financial Times featured an article reporting that EU bureaucracy and initiative has been toned down lately in order to prevent any negative influence on the Irish referendum. The article also noted how embarrassing a no vote could prove for the EU.
Particular attention has been paid to the level of undecided Irish voters registered in the surveys, but Ireland is not the only country confused about the Treaty. Prague Post and Právo, two Czech Republic publications, both published surveys which reported that up to 40% of the Czech public has no idea what the Lisbon Treaty is.
The IFA's decision to support the Government's yes vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum got a lot of attention across Europe with German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung publishing an article on the IFA's success at blackmailing the Taoiseach before lending their support to his campaign. Weekendavisen from Denmark points out that the farmers' votes could well prove the deciding factor in the success or failure of the Lisbon Treaty.
While we may feel inundated by campaign posters, Lisbon debates and Treaty chatter, the Spanish paper La Vanguardia claims the Irish media hasn't shown much interest in the Lisbon Treaty to date.
===ORIGINAL NEWS ITEM===
The latest opinion poll on the Lisbon Referendum is showing the 'No' side surging ahead in a dramatic reversal of opinion.
The TNS/mrbi poll in tomorrow's Irish Times shows opponents of the Treaty with a 5% lead over those in favour.
Up to now, opinion polls on the Referendum campaign have consistently shown the 'Yes' side ahead, although opponents have been closing the gap.
But now the 'No' side has done more than that, surging into a commanding lead with just a week to polling day.
The poll shows the 'Yes' side at 30%, down five points since their last poll three weeks ago, while the 'No' side is at 35%, up a staggering 17%, with 'Don't Knows' down 12 at 35%.
If that result is repeated next week, the political establishment is heading for a crushing defeat and the Lisbon Treaty is dead.
Meanwhile, President McAleese has said its important that people use their vote in the forthcoming referendum.
Ms McAleese said everybody should read everything available from the referendum commission and then go out and vote.
The President was speaking in Warrington in Cheshire, where she was visiting the Foundation for Peace, set up in memory of the two children who were killed in the 1993 IRA bombing in the town.
The Lisbon Treaty (also known as the Reform Treaty) is a treaty that would streamline how the European Union (EU) works by amending the Treaty on European Union (TEU, Maastricht) and the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC, Rome), the latter being renamed Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) in the process.
Prominent changes in the Treaty of Lisbon include reduced chances of stalemate in the EU Council through more qualified majority voting, a more significant European Parliament through extended codecision with the EU Council, scrapping of the pillar system, and the creation of a President of the European Council and a High Representative for Foreign Affairs for greater coherence and continuity in EU policies. If ratified, the Treaty of Lisbon will also make the Charter of Fundamental Rights (human rights provisions) legally binding.
The negotiations for achieving this reform of EU institution dates back to 2001, when the work began on the eventually ill-fated European Constitution. The Treaty of Lisbon was signed on 13 December 2007 in Lisbon (given Portugal held the EU Council's Presidency at the time), and must be ratified by all twenty-seven Member States before it can enter into force. This is expected to happen by the end of 2008, in time for the 2009 European elections. As of May 29, 2008, fifteen countries have ratified the Treaty.
THE POPE AND THE LISBON TREATY
Source: Irish Family Press
Mis-use of the words of the Holy Father on the Lisbon TreatyCampaigners for Irish sovereignty have deplored attempts by supporters of the Lisbon Treaty to ‘wilfully mis-use the words of the Holy Father’ in order to whip up support for the Treaty. They said that ‘false reports which claimed that the Pope supported the Lisbon Treaty were grossly misleading misrepresentations’ of what the Pontiff had said.
‘The same media which has relentlessly attacked the Pope and the Church in the past is now trying to pretend that the Holy Father supports the Lisbon Treaty’, said Tomás Ó Caomhánaigh of Cóir. ‘It is really disgusting to see that they would stoop so low as to incorrectly quote the Pope.’ He said that a Catholic newspaper which had also misquoted the Pontiff was obliged to correct the error immediately.
‘It’s hardly likely that the Pope would throw his support behind the European project as it stands when he earlier expressed disappointment that the proposed European constitution did not include any reference to God or Europe’s Christian heritage’, continued Mr Ó Caomhánaigh. Both Pope Benedict and the late Pope John Paul II had urged that any constitution for the EU should acknowledge God, but their request was refused.
It was reported that the Pope said that the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon ‘gives a boost to the process of building the European home’, and that this implied his support for the Lisbon Treaty. In fact the quote has been reported quite out of context, and deliberately incomplete, in most newspapers.
‘What Benedict XVI actually said was that a united Europe would be a good place in which to live only if it were built on the foundation of our Christian roots,’ said Mr Ó Caomhánaigh. ‘At the moment I don’t think anyone can honestly say that the European project as proposed in the Lisbon Treaty gives any acknowledgment to Europe’s Christian heritage’, he added.
The Pope’s words on the matter were: ‘On the subject of Europe, I would like to assure you that I am following attentively the new phase which began with the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon. This step gives a boost to the process of building the “European home”, which will be a good place to live for everyone only if it is built on a solid cultural and moral foundation of common values drawn from our history and our traditions and if it does not deny its Christian roots.’