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Europe

Irish Likely to Approve Lisbon Treaty in New Referendum: Poll

If the Lisbon Treaty addressed issues of special concern to the Irish, such as the country's stance on abortion, taxation and political neutrality, a new poll indicates more "yes" than "no" votes.

Two Irish women vote 'NO' at Lisbon Treaty referendum voting machine in Dublin city centre in June 2008

The biggest weakness of the Yes campaign is among women and young voters

Irish voters, who had rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum last June, plunging the European Union into a crisis, said they may approve a revised document, according to a TNS poll conducted by the Irish Times.

In the poll, the public was asked how they would vote if the treaty was modified to contain opt out clauses for issues of special concern, such as Ireland's abortion laws, which are far more restrictive than most members of the 27 nation bloc and the country's special stance on political neutrality and taxation.

The poll, which was carried out for the European Commission and the Irish government last week, surveyed a broad swath of voters. It showed that if such issues were clarified in special declarations, 43% of voters would vote in favour of the treaty and 39% would vote against it, with the remaining respondents expressing no opinion. A representative sampling of 1,000 voters were questioned in face to face interview and is subject to a three percent margin of error.

The poll also showed a difference of views based on socio-economic class, with those well-off voting two to one in favour of the treaty and those in lower income groups voting more heavily on the "no" side.

The most substantial shift was among the rural population. Farmers are now in favour of the treaty by 46 per cent compared to only 32 per cent when the last Irish Times poll before the referendum was held last June.

Interestingly, the big weakness of the Yes campaign is among women and the youngest voters. In the 18- to 24-year old age category, 32 percent plan to vote for the treaty, 38 percent against it and the remaining 30 percent having no opinion about it.

Among women, 40 per cent intend to vote No compared with 38 per cent Yes and 23 per cent in the "don't know" category. Men however are in favour of the treaty by 48 per cent compared to 38 per cent who plan to vote "no", with the remaining15 percent having no opinion.

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