With less than a month to go until the Second Vote on the Lisbon Treaty campaigners in Ireland are madly trying to rall support amongst the general public. Ireland is the only country to have held a public vote on whether or not to ratify the Lisbon treaty and last time round it was rejected. The first vote was held on Friday June 13th 2008 with 53% voting. Of that number 46.6% voted ‘Yes’ and 53.4% voting ‘No’. A slightly embarassing result for Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, whose job it was to convince the Irish public to vote yes on the treaty.
I have been fortunate to have been in Ireland while both of the campaigns were running and even lucky enough to watch the voting results being announced on RTE. On both visits to the Emerald Isle it was hard not to notice the various political signs that adorned every lamp post, traffic light and street sign all over the country. Campaign slogans for the yes voted focussed mainly on the economic side with ‘Yes to Recovery, Yes to Europe’ and ‘We’re stronger with Europe Vote Yes’, while the No voters played to the everyday issues like ‘Milked dry- 2 billion euro lost in fishing, farming is next, Vote No’ and ‘Minimum wage down to 1 euro 84 an hour, Vote No’. One further worry is that EU law may be forced on to Ireland for example in Ireland abortion is illegal but there is a fear that it may be legalised should the yes vote win.
Both sides are working hard to get votes in the run up to polling day on Friday 2nd October but the question is if ireland votes ‘No’ again, will there be another public vote in a years time? Will the Irish government keep having a public vote until they get the result that they want?
In an ideal democratic situation those in power would go with what the public had decided was best for their country, but then in an ideal situation Ireland would not have been the sole country to hold a public vote on the Lisbon Treaty every country would have had that something that has been voiced by campaign groups here in the UK. If Ireland gets a public vote on the Lisbon Treaty why can’t we? Let’s hope that this is the last time Ireland will be not holding this vote again but that it might be other EU countries who get the chance to vote on whether to ratify the Lisbon Treaty or not.