Irish support EU treaty but many undecided: poll

Reuters News
Posted: May 18, 2012 11:08 PM
Irish support EU treaty but many undecided: poll

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland remains on course to back Europe's new fiscal treaty in a referendum this month, a poll showed on Thursday, although with just two weeks to go until polling more than a third of voters have yet to make up their minds.

Ireland will hold what is likely to be the only popular vote on the so-called "fiscal compact" on May 31. The country's finance minister warned on Wednesday that it would be left with "less than full membership" of the euro zone if voters reject the treaty.

Some 37 percent of voters said they would support the German-led plan for stricter budget discipline, according to the Irish Independent/Millward Brown Lansdowne poll, with 24 percent opposed and 35 percent yet to decide either way.

When undecided voters are excluded, the "Yes" side, which is being led by the country's three largest political parties as well as business and farming groups, leads by 60 percent to 40 percent, a similar advantage to a poll on Sunday which put support for the treaty at 63 percent.

Analysts warned that the high number of undecided voters in Thursday's poll gave the "Yes" camp little room for complacency.

"There are two important conclusions from such a high figure: the referendum could yet go either way, and the campaign to date has not been very effective at reaching a minority of voters," said Theresa Reidy of University College Cork.

As with previous European referendums, Dublin's centre-left junior coalition Labor party faces the toughest task in convincing its supporters to back the treaty, with a breakdown of the poll showing 41 percent of them are set to vote "No".

While the treaty needs the approval of only 12 of the 17 euro zone countries to be ratified, an Irish rejection would undermine Europe's strategy for overcoming a debt crisis thrown sharply into focus this week by political disarray in Greece.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Catherine Evans)