Ireland Awaits Results of Referendum on EU Fiscal Treaty

Posted June 1st, 2012 at 3:20 am (UTC-5)
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Ireland will learn Friday whether voters have agreed to accept the terms of the European Union's debt-reduction treaty.

Voters went to the polls on Thursday to cast their ballots on a German-backed measure that would impose strict limits on debt and budget deficits among the 17-nation euro currency bloc. Ireland signed the treaty in March with most other EU countries, but is the only one seeking to ratify it by popular vote. Parliaments in other eurozone nations are considering the pact.

One voter, Aidan Crowley, said the Irish are irritated at the continuing economic turmoil in the eurozone, but said that Ireland cannot ignore responsibility for its own financial missteps.

“I think many, many people are very annoyed with Europe. Basically they see Europe as to a large extent the problem that now arises in Ireland. I think that is unfair. I think we need to look at ourselves also.''

The Irish government has warned its citizens that failure to approve the EU plan would not be in the country's best interest of getting more bailout help, if it needs more money when its current $106 billion bailout runs out in 2013. Opponents say the treaty would hamper Ireland's need to stimulate its economy.

Opinion surveys taken before Thursday's vote suggested a majority of the Irish approved of the treaty, but the final results could be closer than expected because of low voter turnout.

If Irish voters reject the referendum, the treaty could still be approved by 12 of the other 16 countries using the euro currency.