The Irish Times reports that a striking feature of
the recent referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was a massive difference
in the class composition of those who voted 'No' and 'Yes',
according to an analysis of the results of an opinion poll
carried out for the European Commission.
Among manual workers, 74 per cent voted 'No' to the treaty,
while among the self-employed, 60 per cent voted 'Yes'. There
was a corresponding difference between the more educated who
voted 'Yes' and the least educated, who voted 'No'.
Prof Richard Sinnott of UCD, who specialises in analysing
voter behaviour, said that, in a society where there has been
little evidence of class voting in elections or referendums,
the class factor in the treaty vote was substantial.
He was speaking at the European Commission offices in Dublin
where he presented an analysis of the survey carried out among
a sample of 2,000 people who were polled in the days after
the referendum. Prof Sinnott also presented an analysis of
the regular twice-yearly Eurobarometer poll - the last one
of which was conducted in April during the referendum campaign.
The highlights of the survey, which have already been published,
showed that a majority of women and young people voted 'No',
while a majority of men and older people voted 'Yes'.
The main reason given for voting 'No' was a lack of knowledge
about the treaty - with 22 per cent of 'No' voters holding
that view. The main reason given by 'Yes' voters for their
decision at 32 per cent was that it was in Ireland's best
When it came to party affiliations, a majority of Fianna
Fáil supporters - 60 per cent - voted 'Yes'. However, the
40 per cent of Fianna Fáil supporters who voted 'No' comprised
the biggest element of the 'No' vote as broken down by party
support. Fine Gael voters were evenly divided, with 51 per
cent voting 'Yes' and 49 per cent voting 'No', while 55 per
cent of Labour supporters and 57 per cent of Green Party supporters
voted 'No'. Sinn Féin was the only party whose supporters
were completely in tune with the party's position, with 95
per cent voting 'No'.
One of the remarkable features of the poll was that 67 per
cent of voters thought the 'No' campaign was most convincing,
with just 15 per cent giving that accolade to the 'Yes' campaign.
Even among 'Yes' voters, a majority of two to one thought
the 'No' campaign more convincing.
More than half of the voters only made up their minds on
how they would vote during the final weeks of the campaign
- indicating that the poor quality of the 'Yes' campaign played
a significant part in the outcome.
While lack of knowledge of the treaty was cited as the most
common reason for voting 'No', the second reason given was
to protect Irish identity, followed by safeguarding Irish
neutrality. When taken with the Eurobarometer poll - which
showed a jump in the number of people who believe national
identity is more important than European identity - it appears
that this was also an important factor in the result.
However, there are apparent contradictions between the two
polls. The Eurobarometer poll showed that a substantial majority
of people still believe that membership of the EU was good
for Ireland and that the country had benefited from membership.
It also showed that institutions like the European Parliament
and the European Commission generated a much greater level
of trust than national institutions like the Dáil, while a
substantial majority of Irish people supported a European
common foreign policy and even a defence and security policy.
Yet, a comparison of the Eurobarometer polls in Ireland and
Denmark, carried out by Prof Sinnott, found striking differences.
Danish voters know far more about the EU, but Irish voters
had a much stronger attachment to their national identity.
The attachment to national identity in Ireland is the second
highest in the EU, with only Britain feeling stronger on the
Source - The Irish Times