Disastrous 'Yes' campaign blamed for treaty rejection
Published 21/06/2008 | 00:00
A DISASTROUS 'Yes' campaign by the government is directly to blame for the Irish voter's decision to reject the Lisbon Treaty.
The damning findings of a poll carried out immediately after people voted has revealed that even those who voted 'Yes' felt that the 'No' campaign was more convincing.
Few had made up their minds when the referendum date was announced, which allowed the early 'No' campaign to gain a foothold.
Last night, Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell said the government's delay in announcing a date and beginning their canvassing undoubtedly harmed them.
"We even thought it was going to be held on May 30 and we were geared towards that," he said. "But we were told there were issues to be ironed out and that was why it was later."
He said the later date meant that the 'No' campaign was able to sway more voters.
However, he also pointed out that although people complained about a lack of information, all the political parties, as well as the Referendum Commission, published huge swathes of detailed information.
The Eurobarometer poll found that just one in 10 voters had made up their minds at the time the referendum was announced.
The vast majority were undecided and open to being swayed, with more than half making their decision in the final weeks.
A total of 15pc made up their minds on the day of the referendum itself, with almost one quarter voting 'No', simply because they didn't have enough information on what the implications of voting 'Yes' would be.
"Although a relatively high proportion of people made up their minds during the campaign -- having not started out with a pre-determined mindset -- once their mind was made up, they were unlikely to change their decision," the report states.
The survey of 2,000 randomly selected respondents has also found that seven out of 10 voters thought the 'No' campaign was the more convincing one, with 59pc of 'Yes' voters believing the 'No' side was more convincing.
As revealed in the Irish Independent earlier this week, other findings show that young people voted 'No' by a margin of two to one, and people who did not understand the treaty voted 'No'.
Younger voters were much less likely to vote but, of those who did, 65pc voted 'No'. An even higher proportion of students said 'No', at 72pc. The main supporters of the 'Yes' vote were found in higher socio-economic groups such as senior managers (66pc) and the self-employed (60pc).
The report also dismisses the argument that 'No' voters are anti-Europe, with 80pc of 'No' voters saying they support Ireland's membership of the EU.
Analysis of the reasons for their voting decisions shows that a third of 'Yes' respondents felt it would be in Ireland's best interest.
And although the government campaigned that ratification would make the EU more effective in its decision making, this influenced just 5pc.
A lack of information about the treaty was the main reason for voting against it (22pc), followed by a desire to protect Irish identity (12pc). "Besides these two main rationales, 'No' voters gave a number of other explanations," the report states.
"These included a lack of trust in politicians in general, a wish to safeguard Irish neutrality in security and defence matters, a desire to keep an Irish commissioner in every commission, the need to protect the Irish tax system, as well as interpreting their vote as a vote against a 'Unified Europe'."