The No side has – alarmingly – surged into the lead in the opinion polls prior to the referendum next week on the Treaty of Lisbon. From the article from the Irish Times about the poll, these are the crucial lines:

The swing to the No camp has not been prompted by domestic considerations, with just 5 per cent of those opposed to the Treaty saying they are influenced by a desire to protest against the Government.

The reason most often cited by No voters is that they don’t know what they are voting for or they don’t understand the Treaty, with 30 per cent of No voters listing this as the main reason for their decision.

So, essentially, people are voting no, well, because they just don’t know. I suppose the respondents to the survey were honest at least in admitting complete ignorance, but what a reaction! Get a grip folks! OK, you might oppose the EU per se, or dislike the greater foreign affairs powers granted by the Treaty of Lisbon, or you might not want more majority voting. But that would be an informed choice. But to just say ‘we don’t know’?! Remarkable.

[UPDATE] Just come across this from Jean Quatremer (in French) – the only other blogger I’ve found who reckons ignorance is a remarkable reason for voting against the Treaty.


  1. Eoghan

    OK…first of all i am 19 year old irish citizen (just because i am young does not mean i am stupid)
    i am in italy at the moment where Berlusconi is in charge…a mafioso and a “leader” basically corrupt.
    now as i heard about the referendum coming up in ireland i decided to see exactly what the treaty of lisbon meant, i read about it on many sites and tried to figure out just what it meant for ireland…which i have to say was quite a task in itself.
    so after a good few days of searching i finally found some sense in the complicated wording of the treaty.
    if there was nothing to hide in the wording of treaty then i think the irish people who “dont know” might have voted yes.
    it wasnt that we didnt know what we were voting for, it was the fact that so much was hidden that it was stupid to say yes.
    and do you think it is stupid of people to say no when a yes vote means the privatization of the health board (if you cant pay you die, basically american style health)
    , a yes meaning that we have the right to vote taken away from us.
    i would like to trust the government, i would like to believe that the government wants the best for the people but in realality all it cares about is money.

    the irish government was nearly all for the treaty bar sinn fein….but the people said no….so how many other countries citizens would say the same?
    tell me why didnt any other country have a referendum?

  2. The Vote the we have (The Irish) Was NOT about the lisbon treaty……… It was a vote on weather the government of ireland could change the Consitution or not. if we had sad yes we would not have a vote on anything again ever…..A vote not has not protected our right to have our say and europs right……

  3. Vote NO, only the people of Ireland can stop this stupid treaty.

  4. Sorry, I’m not dishonest. You’re blind. There are 2 comments from you already in the list, unedited, and those are the only 2 comments you’ve posted before. Nothing has been deleted. If you’ve tried to post something else then there was some kind of technical problem – I’ve checked all the e-mails I receive every time someone posts a comment.

  5. Antoine

    Any chance to see my comment published ?

    Unless you are completely DISHONEST ?

  6. Ralf,

    I oppose the treaty word for word, as I opposed the Constitution of Giscard D’Estaing. The intentions of the treaty is not beyond my grasp, I grasp it and I oppose it. The language that the treaty is written in is intentionally unfathomable, as Giscard himself said, nothwithstanding any last minute tinkering. To understand the treaty you would need a library of documents and a team of administrative assistants.

    You may flatter yourself that you are my intellectual superior, and perhaps you are. That is immaterial. This is a political and philosophical disagreement, not an IQ test.

  7. Trooper Thompson,

    Valéry Giscard d’Estaing made his comment before various consolidated and even highlighted versions of the Treaty of Lisbon appeared. Try one of those, instead of demonstrating how much behind the curve you really are.

    And if you don’t understand the Lisbon Treaty then, try reading my blog, where every stage of the long treaty reform process is laid out in detail, Article by Article.

    If you lack understanding even after that, we return to square one. How can you shout for referendums if you have to admit to yourself that it is beyond your grasp?

  8. @Trooper: lighten up! Of course people would not be kicked out of Belgium. And the very idea that I could somehow become Belgian is – equally – ludicrous. Just because you don’t agree with me doesn’t mean you have to ignore things that are tongue-in-cheek.

    @Antoine: if you look at the contents of the rest of this blog you will see that I am not blind and naïve, indeed I find myself becoming more and more cynical and bitter. But I can at least get up in the morning and not be paranoid about the world.

  9. Antoine

    With Sarkozy de Nagy-Bocsa, France is turning into a USA poodle puppet, yes.

    And Quatremer is so biased and manipulative.

    You’re so blind and naïve.

  10. Please God, let Ireland vote no! For all the rest of us who have been robbed of the chance to have a democratic say in this matter.

    For those that are undecided, try reading the treaty. You will soon find that it is unreadable – Giscard D’Estaing, the lead author of the EU Constitution, said that this treaty wasn’t meant to be read, and you’ll soon find out what he means. Then ask yourself, is it wise to sign a contract that you can’t understand?

    See the way these federalists think (e.g. the author of this blog) – they hate referendums because they don’t believe the common people should be allowed to decide such matters.

  11. Oh, very scientific. Rant the loudest and hence think you’re right.

    “If ever Ireland voted YES, Europe would become the poodle-puppet of the USA, specially into military domains.”

    What a load of crap. You assume that a Europe that has France in it is ever going to be a poodle to the USA? Rubbish.

    Jean Quatremer, like anyone else, is welcome to express their views. His blog is well informed and well argued and – thank goodness – he’s fair and open about what he says. If more in the Commission were like him then the EU would not be such a mess.

  12. Antoine

    Please Irish People, in the name of Europeans peoples , vote NO !

    See the comments below this french article
    Most of the commentators wish Ireland could vote NO.

    If ever it’d happened, this would be a huge slap in the face of the European Commision technocrats who are completely disconnected from reality. The current way the European Union is designed is mainly in the interest of politicians, media and corporations and definitely not in the interest of the majority of the people.

    If ever Ireland voted YES, Europe would become the poodle-puppet of the USA, specially into military domains.

    Please, be wise, vote NO and do not fear the pressure of the press and of politicians.

    And BTW, Jean Quatremer is a propagandist disguised into a journalist. He is so biased.

  13. The EU does seem to have become less of a project these days, mostly because that’s how national governments want it to be: a single market plus an intergovernmental mechanism for making collective decisions in a defined set of areas where collective action provides clear benefits.

    Personally, I think it’s good that the federal masterplan is on the wane. Institutions that stand the test of time tend to be built up gradually, haphazardly, over long periods, accruing legitimacy in line with their concrete achievements. EU cheerleaders could do well to accept that and not get so hung up on big plans, constitution-writing and the like. A very Popperian approach, but I’m instinctively suspicious of anyone with a masterplan in their hand.

  14. Maybe so, but I find it hard to be optimistic at the moment. I hear a deafening silence from anyone wanting to be positive yet critical of the EU project – most pro-EU folks want to keep their heads down and hope, while the anti-side can claim the ground using half-truths, ignorance and distortion. Where is the leadership, the fight, the commitment, from anyone who cares about the EU?

  15. You are too pessimistic.

    A high ‘don’t know’ vote would declare the result illegitimate. But that doesn’t mean it would declare the result a ‘no’. An illegitimate referendum on an issue like this is – in my view – a good thing. It shows that all the people calling for a referendum were misguided.

    A high don’t know vote would simply declare the referendum inconclusive, and so the government should proceed as it was…

  16. YES!!! But then the argument would be ‘don’t vote don’t know because you won’t be able to vote no in future’… Sorry to be pessimistic, but – referendums or not – these sorts of issues need bold and optimistic leadership, qualities that are in short supply across the EU at the moment.

  17. A high ‘don’t know’ vote would prove to me that this kind of issue is best decided by elected representatives in a legislature who have the time and inclination to scrutinise line-by-line and mediate a broader public debate.

    A high ‘don’t know’ vote would signal that this does not belong to the category of decisions that are best made by referendum.

  18. Jack: that would seem like a perfectly sensible option. However if you did that, and ‘yes’ scored 40%, people like Harry above would declare the result illegitimate.

  19. Short term, an Irish No would be a setback to the treaty reform exertions since Nice (2000) and harmful to the functioning of a European Union with 27 member states and a blow to the spirit of European integration.

    Long term, the differences between deliberative and representative democracy versus plebiscites would be further underlined, the latter being favourite vehicles of populists bent on wrecking progress.

    Referendums or not, it is absurd that a close political union like the EU is still based on traditional international treaties requiring unanimous decision and ratification.

    When will the European Union cross the Rubicon as the American founding fathers did in 1787 by agreeing that the ratification of nine states was enough to establish the Constitution between these states? (Article VII)

    The United States moved from the deficient Articles of Confederation to the federal Constitution in a decade. Will a century be enough for Europe?

  20. Why not just offer a “Don’t Know” option on the ballot paper?

  21. Harry Haddock

    Er so….

    People asked to ratify treaty that is of sufficient
    legal weight to trigger a national vote.

    A significant minority feel they do not understand the implications of said treaty.

    Thus they look at the status quo, realise it isn’t to bad, and vote ‘no’ as a cautionary act.

    EU blogging idiot calls this ignorance. Everyone else regards it as sensible caution.

    Your problem is?

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