Saturday, October 03, 2009

Nooooooo, it's Yes!

FINAL: It's over. All 43 results are in. The national result is 67.1 percent for the "yes" campaign and 32.9 percent for the "noes". It is being called "swing Saturday". Unlike the second Nice vote, where the "no" vote stayed firm and more "yes" voters turned out, there has been clear evidence of a shift in sentiment, on top of the six percent increase in turnout. Either way, the Irish have sold the pass. It's down to Klaus now.

UPDATE: The president of the EU parliament, Jerzy Buzek, said the result was "good news for Ireland and good news for Europe" but said it was "not the end of the story. Now we must start to work to overcome the difficulties. Our citizens are afraid of the energy issue, the unemployment rate, about immigration, demography and we can do that together, as it was before, also in the future, in solidarity."

"We should also think about those who were answering 'no' because it is our habit and it is our custom to think about all Europeans. I can assure (you) I will work very hard and do feel that it is our common Europe. Let us write our common European history."

UPDATE: Gerry Adams says the Irish political establishment had ignored the decision of the Irish voters after the first Lisbon referendum. They would regret the day they ignored the views of "no" voters this time.

UPDATE: More from Barroso: "Thank you Ireland ... the Irish people have spoken – they have said a resounding 'yes' to Europe. I'm extremely happy at this resounding vote for Europe." And when they said "no"?

UPDATE: Only three constituencies to declare: Carlow-Kilkenny, Dublin North Central and Longford-Westmeath. Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty says he is delighted with the "no" vote in Donegal. It is a clear signal from people in the county that they will not be bullied by the government. A decisive victory for the "bully boys" says Farage. Out of fear, a small country has been bullied into changing its vote. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the result was "a mature reflective decision and the Irish people had risen above cynicism, frustration and anger and had put their country first."

Nationwide turnout is 59.2 percent (1,674,897), up 6 percent on the 2008 referendum.

UPDATE: Klaus is keeping shtum. He has declined to say how he would proceed on the Czech ratification. "The question does not exist today. Today I have a ban...until the Constitutional Court releases something," he said.

UPDATE: Brown joins in the chorus - "The treaty is good for the UK and good for Europe. We can now work together to focus on the issues that matter most to Europeans: a sustained economic recovery, security, tackling global poverty, and action on climate change." Now 33 results in ... 66.8-33.2 percent.

UPDATE: "Now that all Member States have democratically approved the Lisbon Treaty," says Barroso, "I hope that the necessary procedures for its entry into force can be completed as quickly as possible in Poland and the Czech Republic. Today was indeed a great day for the European Union."

UPDATE: Brian Cowen has formally declared victory. There are now 28 results in ... 66.9-33.1 - a two-to-one margin.

UPDATE: With 23 (of 43) results in, well over half way, the "yes" vote is holding up, at 67.8 percent – as against 32.2 percent for "no". Turnout is 59.6 percent – higher than 2008. The result of the day will be Dublin South, which voted "yes" with a resounding 81.67 percent, only 18.3 percent voting against.

After all the nervous tension, the "colleagues" are now relaxing. There had been suggestions that Sweden might call an extra meeting to put pressure on Vaclav Klaus but Swedish prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt - holder of the EU presidency – says there is now no need for one. Discussions are going to be left for the European Council in October.

UPDATE: EU commission president, José Manuel Barroso, says the result "shows the value of European solidarity". Nigel Farage compares the referendum to a corrupt election in Zimbabwe or Afghanistan. Twelve results in now, and the trend is holding at 64.6 for the "yes" side. It's all over bar the shouting. The battle now begins.

UPDATE: Nine of 43 counts completed ... running at 64.8 percent "yes" and 35.2 "no", with an average swing of 20.2 percent. Turnout 58.9 percent. That looks to be a firm trend established. Results as they come in can be seen here.

UPDATE: Kildare North has recorded a "yes" vote with 76.19 percent of the vote (32,012). A mere 23.81 percent (10,002) voted "no". The constituency voted "yes" in 2008, but the margin increased by 21.57 percent. Donegal North East has voted "no" - as expected. The vote was 51.46 percent (15,005) for the noes, and 48.54 percent (14,156) for "yes". That gives a swing to the "yes" side of 13.24 percent. Tipperary North has fallen in with the "children" and voted "yes" with 70.38 percent (25,768) of the votes, against 29.62 percent (10,846) "no". The swing is 20.58 percent on a turnout of 52 percent (down from 58.5 percent in 2008 when the vote was 50-49.6 in favour of the "no" campaign).

UPDATE: David Cameron has issued a statement, retailed here: "This weekend we will hear the results of the referendum in Ireland on the re-named EU Constitution. I want to make one thing clear: there will be no change in our policy on Europe and no new announcements at the conference."

Kenneth Clarke will be happy. It would be a "disaster" if the conference was overshadowed by "a row about Europe", he says. He tells The Daily Telegraph, "Most people (i.e., himself), if you say shall we have a debate about the Treaty of Lisbon at our party conference will feel an inner shudder".

UPDATE: "This vote will strengthen the EU and enable it to act in a more unified manner in tackling the many global issues that it faces in today's world" says Joseph Daul, president of the EPP group in the EU parliament. "I particularly commend the Irish voters for the wisdom they exercised in distinguishing between the truth and the lies which unfortunately played such a prevalent part of this campaign," he crows says. And they still voted "yes"?

Liam Murphy, a Dublin cab driver and a "no" voter, says: "We have been fed lies and blackmailed with scaremongering about the economy. It is scaremongering by a government that just wants to hang on to its own jobs." At a polling station in the Dublin suburb of Tallaght, Kathleen Cummins said that the Irish had been "bullied and treated like children" into holding the second vote. And, like children, they've run to nanny.

UPDATE: First result in ... Tipperary South. 68.42 percent (22,712) voted "yes", while 31.58 percent (10,483) voted "no" - a 21.63 percent swing (last time 52.9-46.6 for the "no" campaign). Only ten of the 43 constituencies voted "yes" in 2008. Rhis time there will be a majority in nearly every constituency, says RTE.

UPDATE: Stephen Collins, political editor of the Irish Times offers his "take" on the "decisive victory" for the "yes" side. It is clear signal that the overwhelming majority of voters want Ireland to remain an outward looking country at the heart of the European project, rather than retreating back to an isolated position on the periphery, he says.

"The reasons for the big change of heart from the first referendum last year are many, but it is hard to escape the conclusion that economic crisis focused the minds of many voters on the importance of good relations with our EU neighbours in order to restore the country's prosperity."

UPDATE: A wipeout is being predicted - a clean sweep apart from Donegal North East, the only constituency where a "no" result looks certain.

UPDATE: Indications are that Cowen's constituency of Laois Offaly has again voted "yes". In 2008 the vote went 56 to 44 percent in favour of the treaty, but the early tallies with just under half the boxes open suggest that the "yes" vote could be as high as 70 percent. Nationwide, the "yes" vote is estimated to be in the region of 65 percent, up nearly 20 percent on 2008.

UPDATE: Foreign minister Michael Martin is claiming victory. "It looks like a convincing win," he says. "It's good for Ireland."

UPDATE: Ganley concedes defeat. "This is a very convincing win," the Libertas leader told reporters at the main Dublin counting centre. He accused the "yes" campaign of playing on the fears of many voters, particular in connection with jobs and said he would come back next October with the "Yes for Jobs" posters "and see how we are all doing".

UPDATE: Limerick East put up a turnout five percent above last time, with a high "no" vote in working class areas of the city, producing results in the 70 percent region. Tallies indicate a strong "yes" vote in South Roscommon, homeland of minister Michael Finneran. Some boxes were as high as 90 percent "yes". The vote seems to be split on "class" lines. Meanwhile, Jens Peter Bonde is saying that "Friday 2 October 2009 will be seen as a sad day in European history."

UPDATE: Ian Traynor for The Guardian writes that a "yes" vote will see Merkel and Sarkozy and others "move quickly to introduce the changes under the Lisbon treaty." Intense politicking, he writes, will immediately ensue over the two plum posts created by Lisbon: a president of Europe who will chair EU summits and serve for up to five years, and an EU foreign policy chief. And what about the Czechs and Poles?

UPDATE: The wages of fear - all boxes are opened in Kerry North and tallies are indicating a 60:40 margin in favour of the "yes" side. Turnout was 50 percent. Sinn Féin TD for North Kerry, Martin Ferris, said the campaign run by "yes" side put fear into voters and had a huge effect.

UPDATE: Early tallies across the six Dublin city constituencies suggest a decisive victory for the "yes" side. The Dublin South West constituency, which recorded the highest "no" vote in the state last time, is now indicating a clear "yes" vote, probably in the region of 60 percent. However, the predominately working class areas of Jobstown, west Tallaght and Killinarden are remaining two to one in favour of a "no" vote, according to tallies.

With 50 percent of boxes opened in Dublin South, some 73.5 percent of votes appeared to be in favour of a "yes", compared with 62.5 percent last time, indicating a 10 percent jump in the "yes" vote.

UPDATE: RTE reports unofficial results indicate that the "yes" side is surging ahead. "It looks like a convincing win for the 'yes' side," foreign minister Michael Martin says. The first partial tally came from the constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny - which was exactly 50:50 in the first Lisbon Referendum, but is now said to be running two or three to one in favour of the treaty.

There is a huge swing towards "yes" in the Dublin constituencies with early tallies indicating a 60:40 breakdown for the "yes" side. In Dublin South, with 90 percent of ballot boxes opened, 62.9 percent were "yes". The southern city of Cork was showing a 66 percent trend in favour of the treaty. A "sea change" had also taken place in Cork rural constituencies according to the RTE correspondent.

UPDATE: Statement by Anthony Coughlan (who thinks we've lost). "Not the will of the people, but the fear of the people, has led a majority of Irish voters to approve ratifyng the Lisbon Treaty in yesterday's re-run referendum.

Ireland's voters voted not on the content of Lisbon but on membership of the EU, on fear of political isolation if they did not say Yes to the same Treaty as they said No to last year, and on the promise of jobs and economic recovery which the Yes-side bullied and bamboozled them into believing was they would get if they only voted Yes.

Thus the bankrupt Irish political Establishment, which has ruined its country's economy, has opted through stupidity and fear to clamp an undemocratic Constitution on itself and most of Europe."

UPDATE: Statement from our revered co-editor - If there really is a strong "yes" vote and the Irish whinge in a few months because they did not get what they were "promised", I shall laugh and laugh.

UPDATE: The Independent is claiming that David Cameron faces "a major revolt" by Conservative party grassroots over his policy on Europe (it means the European Union). It cites a poll of "2,205 Tory members" which finds that more than eighty percent want him to call a referendum on the treaty, even if it has been fully ratified by the next general election. Where the Irish go, young David fears to tread.

UPDATE: Offical results expected at 5.30 this evening. Early tallies suggest "strong 'yes' vote".

UPDATE: Counting has started ... and more on that exit poll. A Fine Gael spokesman is claiming that the poll was conducted amongst a representative sample of 1,000 voters at 33 locations (approx 30 at each location). He claims "a massive 'yes' vote in Dublin, touching close to the 70 percent mark," while it was nearer to 60 percent in the rest of the country.

PREVIOUS: Europe is holding its breath after polls closed in Ireland's controversial Lisbon Treaty referendum re-run, we are told by the Press Association.

Casting his ballot in his home county of Offaly in the Midlands, Taoiseach Brian Cowen was cautiously optimistic of a pro-Lisbon Treaty win. "The people's decision is sovereign and of course that will be the case, but I'm hopeful that in the context of today we'll have a good outcome," he said.

Words fail me!