October 1, 2009
Welcome to the Blogactiv Lisbon Referendum Live Blog.
If you’re following live, just refresh your browser to read the latest news…
18.30: Well, that’s that. If you didn’t follow the excitement this afternoon, the final result was 67.1% ‘Yes’. Follow all the fallout throughout the week on EurActiv. All eyes now turn to Prague…over to you President Klaus.
18.27: Check the EurActiv homepage later this evening for interviews with Guy Verhofstadt and Piotr Maciej Kaczyński.
18.15: Ireland’s energy minister Eamon Ryan (a senior figure in the Green Party) says the ‘Yes’ vote is “a turning point” for Ireland. “We’ll still have the same problems tomorrow but we can face them with renewed confidence,” he said, adding that the EU can play a positive role in tackling climate change and energy security.
18.10: CEPS analyst Piotr Maciej Kaczyński tells EurActiv that Polish President Lech Kaczyński will complete Poland’s ratification of the Lisbon Treaty “in a couple of days”.
18.00: The Times is quoting Czech President Vaclav Klaus as saying the question of his signing the Lisbon Treaty does not arise due to the challenge currently before the supreme court in Prague.
18.00: “The question does not exist today. Today I have a ban…until the constitutional court releases something,” said Klaus. Looks like this isn’t over yet.
17.57: “All roads lead to Prague now,” says Ireland’s (relieved) Foreign Minister Micheal Martin.
17.56: Micheal Martin says Europe should learn communication lessons from the experience of two Irish referenda. He points to Europe’s “FP7” research programme which he says is fantastic but is named in a way that is meaningless to the general public.
17.45: Jubilant scenes in Dublin Castle as the result is formally announced by election officials. [The woman pictured is Brigid Laffan, Jean Monnet, professor of European studies at UCD].
17.34: Final national result – 67.1% ‘Yes’
17.33: Dublin North result – 71% ‘Yes’
17.30: Piotr Maciej Kaczyński has just come up with a fascinating little quip suggesting Czech President Vaclav Klaus should find a way to step aside (even temporarily) without losing face:
17.30: Piotr Maciej Kaczyński: “There are ways to persuade or to eliminate the [Czech] president from the picture. It’s gossip at this stage, it is speculation, but such scenarios have been laid out. Another one is that the president could undergo an operation, for which he gives his powers for about two hours, and during that time, whoever is in charge according to the constitution, performs the duties of head of state. As it was the case, we do remember, the Belgian case when the king [Baudouin] refused to sign a bill on abortion [in 1990], he abdicated for a day and became a king again 24 hours later – for the purpose of not putting his signature under that piece of legislation. […] There are creative ways to come out of this problem.”
17.21: Europe for Ireland tells EurActiv that Ireland will remain “master of its own destiny” in Europe.
“Europe for Ireland welcomes the strong endorsement of the Lisbon Treaty by the Irish people. The big majority reflects the clear wish of the Irish people to continue to play an active role in the development of the European Union and to work together with our partners in Europe to master the challenges that face us all. We respect our fellow citizens who voted No and we believe that the future will show that their worst fears about the Treaty were not well founded. Ireland will remain the master of its own destiny in Europe.”
17.18: Bookmakers install Pat Cox as the favourite to become Ireland’s next EU Commissioner. Former MEP Eoin Ryan and sitting health minster Mary Harney are also in the running. All three have been competing for airtime this afternoon.
17.15: Ireland’s environment minister (and leader of the Irish Greens), John Gormley, says the Lisbon Treaty will allow progress on green issues, such as climate change. Onwards to Copenhagen…
17.13: Barroso says guaranteeing that all member states will have a European Commissioner was a major factor in the Irish people voting ‘Yes’.
17.05: Nigel Farage MEP – UKIP leader – says today is a decisive victory for “the bully boys” in Brussels and Dublin threatening the Irish electorate. “Why don’t we make it the best of three?”
17.04: Farage is furious that Ireland’s Broadcasting Commission ruled that TV and radio stations did not have to give equal time to ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigners. Ireland’s Europe Minister Dick Roche sarcastically thanks Farage for his intervention in the campaign, which he says helped the ‘Yes’ vote.
17.02: As things stand, it’s 65% ‘Yes’. However, the heavily populated Dublin North consituency has yet to report and is likely to return a solid pro-Treaty vote.
16.58: John Bruton, Head of the European Commission Delegation to the US (and a former Irish Taoiseach), is publicly welcoming the result. “This is a huge relief. Now the way is clear to get on with the real work of restoring the lost dynamism of the shared economy of Europe and Ireland,” he said. Hardly surprising, but interesting to see him weighing in – some see him as a potential EU Commissioner (but Pat Cox is still the frontrunner).
16.50: Former Green Party MEP Patrician McKenna (who is no longer a member of the Irish Greens) says funding disparities put ‘No’ campaigners at a disadvantage: “Fears and insecurities of voters were skilfully tapped into by an illegally over-funded Yes campaign.”
16.48: Wexford result – 58% ‘Yes’
16.46: Donegal South West result – ‘No’ side edges it by a handful of votes (50.3% ‘No’). This is more than a little embarrassing for Deputy Prime Minister Mary Coughlan and government MEP Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher.
16.44: Galway East result – 67% ‘Yes’
16.41: A tale of two cities: Over 80% ‘Yes’ in well-heeled corners of Dublin, but ballot boxes in some working class areas were breaking 2:1 against the Treaty. This pattern cannot be discounted – concerns over the minimum wage and suspicion that Lisbon is a ‘charter for big business’ obviously had an impact.
16.38: Cork South West result – 67.17%. This is pretty much what the national picture will look like when the dust settles. Cork South West voted 55.6% ‘No’ last time.
16.36: Roscommon-South Leitrim result – 65.97% ‘Yes’
16.35: Laois-Offaly result – 73.17% ‘Yes’
16.30: Statement from UK Conservative leader David Cameron:
“The Treaty has still not been ratified by the Czechs and the Poles. The Czech Prime Minister has said that the constitutional challenge before the Czech Constitutional Court could take 3-6 months to resolve. I have said repeatedly that I want us to have a referendum.”
16.25: Pat Cox: “We’ve sent a powerful and positive signal. We want to be first division players in Europe; we want Europe to be a first division player globally for all our interests.”
16.20: Jens-Peter Bonde: “I hope that President Klaus will wait until the next elections in the UK.”
16.19: Asked about David Cameron’s allegedly plea to Vaclav Klaus to drag out ratification until the Conservative Party come to power in the UK, Barroso said flatly that Britain has already approved and ratified the Lisbon Treaty.
16.18: Barroso: “Thank you Ireland – it was a great day for Ireland and a great day for Europe.” He’s stressing that citizen’s appreciate the “solidarity” central to the EU’s response to the crisis, adding that ‘No’ camaigners played the fear card.
16.12: Check out EurActiv’s updated story with comments from all the key players.
16.10 Foreign Minister Michael Martin said around 10am Irish time that around two thirds of the electorate backed the Treaty – that early assessment seems to have been spot on.
16.09: Turnout – 58.8%. This is significantly better than the 52.7% that voted last time. Not bad given the danger of voter fatigue.
16.08: Dublin North East 63.5% ‘Yes’ – another 20% wing, reflecting the national pattern.
16.07: European Commission Vice-President Margot Wallström: “The Commission played its role by producing clear, factual, understandable information, including a Citizens’ Summary of the Treaty in all EU languages. And I am very pleased to hear reports that people said they felt they understood the issues much better this time around.”
16.05: Results are rolling in thick and fast now, but the trend is clear and the result is beyond doubt. Meath East – 72% ‘Yes’, Dublin South East – 79% ‘Yes’.
16.02: Guy Verhofstadt tells EurActiv the Czech and Polish presidents have little choice but to ratify the Lisbon Treaty.
15.59: Kildare South – 69.7% ‘Yes’
15.55: Interesting to see what UK Convervative leader David Cameron says tomorrow at his party conference. He’s under heavy pressure to commit to a referendum if/when he is prime minister. Of course it will be too late if Czech President Klaus signs off on the Treaty.
15.50: Irish public turns its attention to bigger issues…Leinster vs Munster
15.45: Interesting sub-text developing: the result was sorted so early that debate is moving on to other issues. One is why people voted ‘Yes’ – with opposition parties working hard to make sure this is not a victory for the government. Another point – from a Brussels point of view is who will be Ireland’s next Commissioner.
15.44: Pat Cox, health minister Mary Harney and former MEP Eoin Ryan are doing the rounds in the Irish media – none of whom are willing to rule themselves out as a potentail EU Commissioner…
15.40: Galway East shows a 21% shift to the ‘Yes’ side, Dubiln Central returns an 18% shift. Similar story in Louth where the swing is 19%.
15.35: Taoiseach Brian Cowen credits the guarantees secured at the European Council meeting in June for securing a solid ‘Yes’ vote.
15.15: Referenda are great fun – best out of three? Anyone?
15.08: Lothar Bisky, leader of the left-wing GUE/NGL block in the European Parliament, says the Lisbon Treaty represents a “neo-liberal perversion” in European political thinking and the number of ‘No’ votes shows Europeans have reservations about the direction of the EU.
15.06: Two Donegal constituencies have given thumbs down to the Lisbon Treaty.
15.05: As things stand, it’s 64% ‘Yes’, a 20% swing to the pro-Lisbon side.
15.02: Apparently miraculous medals were fished out of a ballot box in County Laois…
14.59: Leader of the Socialists and Democracts in the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, is calling on “eurosceptics, including Czech President Vaclav Klaus, to respect the outcome”.
14.56: IBEC – the employers group that invested heavily in pro-Lisbon posters – has published a statement welcoming the “decisive” ‘Yes’ vote.
“The vote will lead to an EU that is better able to face the challenges ahead and reaffirms Ireland’s long-standing, positive and constructive role in Europe. Today’s decision is good for Ireland and good for Europe.”
14.53: Former MEP Eoin Ryan – another genuine candidate to be Ireland’s next EU Commissioner – quotes Barroso, saying it’s a great day for Europe. Cosying up to his future boss?
14.48: European Commission President Barroso says Brussels provided “impartial information” to the Irish public – hitting back at criticism of the Commission’s involvment in the campaign, including its decision to pay for supplements on the Lisbon Treaty in several Sunday newspapers last week.
14.46: Barroso going to great lengths to give credit to Ireland’s pro-Treaty opposition parties, Fine Gael and Labour. Clearly he expects Ireland’s current government is on the way out. He sounds uncanniily like Verhofstadt, saying the result means Europeans have – directly or indirectly – backed the Lisbon Treaty.
14.45: 68% in Dublin West say ‘Yes’ having narrowly voted ‘No’ last time.
14.44: Kerry North – which returned a strong ‘No’ vote last time – shows a 23% increase in the ‘Yes’ vote.
14.42: Health Minister Mary Harney indicates she has no interest in becoming Ireland’s next Commissioner.
14.41: European Commission President Barroso frames the result as an endorsement of Europe’s concerted approach to tackling the economic crisis.
14.37: Mary Harney, who founded the party of which Pat Cox was a member, said the Lisbon referendum was the first step in Ireland’s recovery. The budget is the real test, she says.
14.36: The large margin of the ‘Yes’ vote is significant. A ‘Yes’ vote of 50.1% would have been democratically suspect and would have put less pressure on Vaclav Klaus.
14.35: Nigel Farage MEP, leader of UKIP, is comparing the referendum with elections in Zimbabwe or Afghanistan.
14.32: Cork South Central result 67% ‘Yes’. Turnout broadly higher than last time.
14.30: Dublin Mid-West result 61.5% – continuing a trend of around a 20% swing. A 3.5% swing was needed to reverse the result.
14.29: Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso to give his reaction shortly…
14.23: Donegal South West – Result a narrow ‘No’ (having been hardcore ‘No’ last time) representing a swing to the ‘Yes’ side.
14.22: Given the focus on jobs in the Lisbon Treaty campaign, it’s worth noting that the queue outside the European Commission building today – where it’s ‘Job Day Brussels’ – resembles something from 1930s United States.
14.20: Kildare North returns huge ‘Yes’ vote. Worth noting that Intel is located in that area and had pushed hard for a positive result locally and nationally.
14.18: Labour leader Eamon Gilmore stresses that ‘Yes’ vote is in spite of the current Irish government rather than the public expressing confidence in the status quo.
14.16: Kitty O’Shea’s pub (which sits in the shadow of the European Commission building and (conveniently) is across the road from the International Press Centre in Brussels) is awash with excitable ‘Yes’ camaigners. People are wearing green and sporting green face paint – it’s like World Cup Italia ’90.
14.10: Confession: I was in Kitty O’Shea’s at lunchtime and accepted a free Guinness from Guy Verhofstadt.
13.32: Pat Cox: The next European Commission will respond to concerns on workers’ rights that arose during the campaign. Interesting given that he may well be a Commissioner.
13.26: Former Sinn Fein MEP Mary-Lou MacDonald said ‘Yes’ campaigners ran an fear-based campaign. “A dishonorable message to people who feel very vulnerable.”
13.25: Last time around, just 10 of Ireland’s 43 constituencies voted ‘Yes’. This time it will be at least 41.
13.22: Dublin Mid-West constituency – with all boxes open, it looks like 68% ‘Yes’. Last time, 60% of Dublin Mid-West voters said ‘No’.
13.19: Ireland’s Europe Minister Dick Roche notes that trade union leaders and business lobbies had joined forces to back the Treaty. Expect that cosy consensus to end on Monday when they have to start thrashing out ways to cut back on public spending.
13.17: Dick Roche says he focused on ground work during the campaign – perhaps preempting the accusation that he was sidelined while Foreign Minister Micheal Martin did much of the heavy lifting
13.15: Speaking to EurActiv, Guy Verhofstadt MEP (leader of the liberal group (ALDE) in the European Parliament) said that the Czech President Vaclav Klaus and his Polish colleague Lech Kaczynski could not oppose the will of 500 million Europeans who have already ratified the Lisbon Treaty – either directly or through their parliaments.
13.15: Verhofstadt said that in the eventuality that President Klaus still opposes the Treaty, it would be, strictly speaking, legal but not democratic.
[Full length interview to be published later today on www.euractiv.com]
13.09: Figures from Dundalk suggest strong ‘Yes’ result, possibly in the region of 70%.
12.58: Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said the result will send a clear signal to the world and instill confidence across Europe.
12.57: Brian Lenihan: “The Yes vote is a positive signal that Ireland is working with Europe on our economic problems. We can’t retreat into economic isolationism. This is an essentail first step to recovery.”
12.55: Anti-Treaty campaigner Richard Boyd Barrett, of the People Before Profit Alliance, said fear of retaliation from the EU drove the ‘Yes’ vote.
12.52: Pat Cox says better organisation and explanation won the day. “It reflects a very mature vote by the Irish public.” An undoubted victory for Cox & co. – will he be Ireland’s next European Commissioner?
12.47: Socialist MEP Joe Higgins said a “grand coalition” of political elite and the print media won the referendum. Good news for “arms dealers and multinational companies”, he adds.
12.44: Richard Greene of extreme Catholic group Coir says it was a “David versus Goliath” battle given the financial resources available to ‘Yes’ campaigners.
“The battle to kill this Treaty is not over. President Klaus should wait for the British to have a referendum before signing the Treaty.”
12.43: Southern constituencies (Cork and Kerry) returning strong ‘Yes’ votes, in contrast to the result 15 months ago.
12.42: The battle to claim victory is well and truly under way. Irish government ministers say they did their homework and it paid off. Opposition politicians are saying their supporters “held their noses” and backed the Treaty. In truth, civil society groups and business lobbies played a major role this time around.
12.38: Guy Verhofstadt MEP (former Belgian Prime Minister) says Irish people see the EU and the Euro as a guarantee of economic stability. “All the people of Europe have said ‘Yes’. The only thing left is a formal signature.”
12.30: Labour politician Joan Burton says the government did ‘Yes’ campaigners a favour by staying out of the campaign. “Brian Cowen’s face never graced a poster.”
12.28: Ganley suggests the ‘Vote Yes for Jobs’ posters will come back to haunt pro-Lisbon campaigners if/when unemployment is not magically solved by the referendum result
12:27: Libertas leader Declan Ganley congratulates Taoiseach Brian Cowen for a “politically masterful campaign”. “This is not a vote of hope, it’s inspired by something other than hope. The Irish people have vested their trust in the political establishment who have promised them jobs.”
12.18: Ireland voted twice on the Nice Treaty but observers put the second ‘Yes’ vote down to an increased turnout at the second referendum. This time, it seems ‘Yes’ campaigners changed people’s minds rather than just convincing their supporters to cast their ballots.
12.16: Ballot boxes from working class areas of Dublin producing more ‘No’ votes than others, while middle class parts of the city are returning huge ‘Yes’ votes
12.10: Dublin Mid-West 65% ‘Yes’. Last time they went 60:40 ‘No’
12.01: An exit poll by Fine Gael (the largest opposition party) indicates a 65% ‘Yes’ vote
11.59: Tallies in from all constituencies indicate that they all voted ‘Yes’ – just as they did for the second Nice Treaty referendum
11.57: Piotr Maciej Kaczyński notes that the biggest challenge was for the people to differentiate between showing a red card to the deeply unpopular government and voting on the Treaty.
11.53: Piotr Maciej Kaczyński, Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies, has just popped in to EurActiv HQ in Brussels.
“The Yes vote, if confirmed, is a reinvigoration of the ratification process. President Klaus is now the last person to postpone the process, but there’s no one who can stop the process now. At the same time, we should not overestimate the ‘Yes’ vote because it comes at a time of deep economic recession in Ireland. It’s not jubilation for Europe, it’s fear of the economic consequences of a ‘No’.”
However, he warns Europhiles not to get too carried away:
“The Yes vote, if confirmed, is a reinvigoration of the ratification process. President Klaus is now the last person to postpone the process, but there’s no one who can stop the process now. At the same time, we should not overestimate the ‘Yes’ vote because it comes at a time of deep economic recession in Ireland. It’s not jubilation for Europe, it’s fear of the economic consequences of a ‘No’.
11:45: Cork South Central: with half the boxes open, 67% ‘Yes’ – that’s Foreign Minister Micheal Martin’s constituency. He’s on RTE now saying he expects a 2:1 ‘Yes’ vote. Cork South Central voted 55% ‘No’ last time
11.29: Joe Higgins MEP criticising involvement of European Commission in Irish referendum. Transport Commissioner Tajani going on ‘junkets’ with Ryanair, Barroso offering millions of Euro to unemployed Dell workers, Commission paying for newspaper supplements…Does he have a point?
11.28: Socialist MEP Joe Higgins blaming blatant influx of cash to the ‘Yes’ campaign for the result. 60:40 would be a great achievement for the ‘No’ side given that the political, business and media establishment were pushing for a ‘Yes’ vote
11.23: Foreign Minister Micheal Martin sounding supremely confident. Has he made himself the most likely replacement for Taoiseach Brian Cowen as leader of the Fianna Fail party (when they inevitably lose power at the next election)
11.21: We’re looking at a ‘Yes’ vote of greater than 60% – piling pressure on Klaus
11.19: RTE reports significant anti-Europe sentiment on ballot boxes. One wag wrote “What part of No do you not understand?”
11.16: Dublin county “significant swing” to the ‘Yes’ side. Anything up to 80% ‘Yes’ in Dun Laoghaire (which returned the highest ‘Yes’ vote last time, but by a smaller margin).
11:14: A narrow ‘Yes’ vote foreseen in working class areas of Limerick, with at least one constituency likely to say ‘No’.
11.13: Donegal seems like it may narrowly reject the Lisbon Treaty – however, last time around Donegal returned a staunch ‘No’ vote so this might indicate a clear shift
11.12: Just to be clear, the figures rolling in at this point can be based on anything from 10% to 50% of the ballot boxes – you’ve been warned…
11.11: Early (and unscientific) trends from Cork suggests a 2:1 Yes:No split – Cork voted no last time, as did most of the southern counties
11.09: RTE reports that Ireland’s Europe Minister Dick Roche is grinning like a Cheshire Cat based on the tallies so far
11.06: Galway swinging to a ‘Yes’ vote, having voted ‘No’ last time.
Warning: most of the boxes that are open so far are from urban areas so it’s not a reflection of the whole county
11.03 Earliest indications hint at a ‘Yes’ vote
Regular updates will be posted here throughout Saturday as results roll in from count centres across Ireland. Comment, analysis and (possibly) some light-hearted banter will also feature so feel free to send your comments on events as they unfold.
The debate is over – the Irish media observed the traditional 24-hour media blackout on Thursday – and poll centres open at 8am (CET) on Friday morning (although the islands have already voted). Counting begins at 10am Saturday and an official result is expected by 5pm Brussels time.
Opinion polls and bookmakers say the ‘Yes’ side should be feeling confident going into the big day but ‘No’ campaigners are pointing out that most mainstream predictions got it wildly wrong last time around so it’s all to play for.
Turnout will be key and simple things like a rain storm could be enough to swing the result if fairweather middle-aged ‘Yes’ voters stay home and motivated (often younger) ‘No’ activists come out in force.
Looking at the results of the last referendum, it’s easy to pick out a few bell-weather constituencies. If Dublin West swings to the ‘Yes’ side, it could be a sign of a national trend. If the middle-class bastion of Dun Laoghaire votes against, it’s curtains for pro-Treaty forces.
The excitement is almost too much to bear…but check in again on Saturday at 11am. We’ll do brunch.Author : Gary Finnegan