With six weeks to go before Ireland votes on the European fiscal treaty there are signs the government’s campaign for a Yes vote is in danger of unravelling as public attitudes towards austerity harden and instability in Europe feeds into its referendum debate.
On Wednesday the Irish trade union movement said it could not support the treaty, which would tighten budget rules and introduce penalties for states that break the rules…
Opinion polls show a slim majority (30 per cent) in favour, with 23 per cent against. But with 39 per cent of the public undecided concern is rising in government circles that opinion could swing against the treaty during the campaign, as it did in 2008 when Ireland rejected the Lisbon treaty.
“The trade unions’ position shows the naysayers are growing. You can see from studying social media there is a higher degree of anti-European rhetoric for this referendum,” said David Farrell, professor of politics at University College Dublin.
He said the government faced a challenge in the referendum campaign because of a combination of a backlash against austerity, a lack of knowledge about the treaty and the threat that events in France and the Netherlands could feed into the campaign.