Monday, October 5, 2009

Lisbon Result

So its official - having voted yes in the referendum, the Dáil can now ratify the Lisbon Treaty. While a Yes vote was expected the 2-1 majority in favour of the treaty was greater that most expected. So what was the difference between the two votes?

In Lisbon 1, turnout was just over 53% whereas on Friday 59% came out to vote. This equates to almost 200,000 additional votes cast. If all these additional voters had turned out for the first ballot and voted yes, the treaty would have been passed by about 100,000 votes. In the 2nd running the yes vote went up over 450,000 and the no vote went down over 250,000 so it wasn't just a case of higher turnout to overturn the result as happened with the Nice Treaty. Instead people changed their minds and moved from the No camp into the Yes camp.

Across the country, the swing to Yes was pretty much even at 20% from working class constituencies which heavily voted No the last time, through to the leafy suburbs of Dublin that voted Yes the last time. The only outliers in the data are the two Donegal constituencies. In both referenda they recorded the lowest turnout and the Yes side only increased by about 13% to leave Donegal as the only county to vote against the amendment at the second time of asking.

The highest swing was in Limerick East (the city area) where almost 25% of the vote switched from No to Yes. As expected the highest Yes percentages were in Dublin South and Dún Laoghaire where both recorded in excess of 4-1 splits.

So who were the winners and losers politically here? Brian Cowen lives to fight another day. A defeat here would have made it impossible to continue as Taoiseach. Micheál Martin, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, performed well for FF and the Government in the weeks leading up to the vote. Thankfully, Dick Roche was not allowed on the national airwaves. Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore should be happy with the outcome also but in the back of their minds they must feel that this result will give heart to FF to limp on through NAMA and the budget.

Cóir, Declan Ganley, Sinn Féin and Mary Coughlan must be the big losers in all of this. Ganley came back to save the nation from itself but was unable to follow through. Sinn Féin as the only major party to oppose the Treaty did not make much headway and lost the media battle with Cóir and other fringe groups to be the spokespeople for the No campaign. In Lisbon 1 it was almost impossible to find a programme that didn't have Mary Lou McDonald on the panel but this time out they were much less visible.

Finally, Mary Coughlan's days must be numbered. As Táiniste she should have been able to deliver a Yes vote in her home county. Instead the people of the North West gave a two fingered sign to Dublin, Ireland and the rest Europe. Losing one referendum is misfortunate but losing two is careless. There is now no political reason to keep her in the number two spot. A reshuffule should happen as part of the re-negotiation of the PFG and Martin should be promoted and Sweary Mary sent to the back benches beside Bertie.

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