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Ireland will today start counting votes in a referendum on the European Union’s fiscal treaty, with opinion polls before the ballot indicating the compact will be passed.
Counting begins around the country at 9.a.m. local time after yesterday’s vote on the treaty, which enshrines tougher budgetary rules into law. The “yes” camp is confident of victory, with the treaty backed by at least 60 percent, the Irish Times reported, without citing anyone. Turnout was about 50 percent, the Dublin-based newspaper said.
Early tallies may give an indication of the outcome by mid- morning, with a final result due in the evening. The count can be followed on www.referendum.ie/index.php. The Cork-based Irish Examiner reported that some of the “yes” side were concerned the low turnout meant that the treaty could be defeated.
Ireland’s ability to access future bailout funds after its current program runs out at the end of 2013 is at stake in the vote, according to the government. Former Irish Finance Minister Alan Dukes said yesterday that supporters of the treaty will probably win with a “narrow margin.” Around 3.1 million people were entitled to vote.
Ireland would leave itself in a “weak bargaining position” if it rejected the compact, Dukes said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. It is “prudent” to assume that the country will need to extend the 67.5 billion euro ($83.5 billion) it received in 2010, he said.
Opinion polls before the vote indicated that supporters of the treaty lead by about 18 percentage points even as doubts grow about the viability of the euro region.
“This is a sign to the world that we are not going in the same direction as Greece,” said Kieran Binchy, a member of Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s ruling party, speaking outside a polling station in Dublin’s city center.
A “yes” outcome is 1-33, meaning 33 euros ($41) would return 1 euro of profit, according to Dublin-based bookmaker Paddy Power Plc. (PWL) A “no” vote is 10-1 which would mean a 10 euro profit on a 1 euro wager, with odds lengthening through the campaign as Greek and Spanish debt woes intensified.
“I voted ‘no’ out of fear of more austerity,” said Aoife Farrell, 28, a student at University College Cork, in the south of the country. “We should be negotiating an alternative solution and sending that message.”
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