I don’t know if you have the same impression as me, but over the last fortnight I seem to have seen surveys in Ireland showing that Merkel’s Fiscal Treaty will be roundly rejected and overwhelmingly endorsed. A closer look, however, reveals a situation remarkably parallel to that in Greece three weeks ago: a huge proportions of the voters can’t make their minds up. They’re in two minds. So perhaps they need two votes. The old Irish saying, “Vote early and often” may apply.
The latest gauge of this uncertainty comes from Millward Brown Lansdowne, who did fieldwork on behalf of the Irish Independent on Monday and Tuesday. The results show 37% in the Yes camp, 24% in the No redoubt, and 35% between two stools, if you’ll pardon the expression.
But just as in Greece, it’s the young voters who are taking longest to make their minds up….and we all know what happened in Hellenika.
I contacted Paul Moran at MBL this morning, and he has kindly furnished me with an age-related demographic showing that the Undecideds are heavily biased towards under 25s, and biased overall to those under middle age. So, the average of all Don’t Knows is 35%, but:
18-24 – 47%
25-34 – 38%
35-49 – 35%
50-64 – 30%
65+ – 32%
This produces another element of the unknown, because as we saw in the UK election of May 2010, voters under 25 talk a good game about turning up to vote, and then often don’t. (In Greece they turned up in droves).
Not many Irish eyes are smiling on the whole right now, but the Stalinist desperation of Government politicians to be on-message provides more than enough amusement to produce the odd wink and twinkle.
Asked yesterday on Irish radio station Today FM what the Government’s ‘Plan B’ was if the treaty is rejected, Minister Richard Bruton suggested a second vote was possible.
“We will have to say we will need access to this fund and I think Ireland will be looking to say, can we vote again?’
This falls under the standard EU procedure of continuing to vote until citizens give the desired answer. If nothing else, it shows what Good Europeans the Dublin pols are.
But a Government spokesperson later insisted that misspeaking had been involved in Richard Bruton’s remarks, and denied that he was merely a dead actor undergoing an unfortunate typing error.
The spokesperson told RTÉ News that the Government’s position was “crystal clear” – aaaarrrrggg – and there would be no second referendum on the Treaty, whatever the result.
Mr Bruton admitted that he did not handle the interview as well as he could have. Correct, Richard. Let’s be absolutely clear about this, you screwed up.