Referendum vote on fiscal treaty in Ireland | News | DW | 31.05.2012
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Referendum vote on fiscal treaty in Ireland

Low turnout in bad weather marked the Irish referendum on the European Union fiscal pact. Ireland is the only country holding a national referendum on the agreement.

A Carmelite nun arrives at a polling station in North Dublin, Ireland, Thursday, May 31, 2012, as Irish voters went to the polls Thursday to vote in the European Fiscal Treaty Referendum. Irish voters are deciding Thursday whether their government can ratify the European Union's Fiscal Treaty, a deficit-fighting pact designed to bind Ireland and other debt-hit eurozone members to much tighter spending limits. (Foto:Peter Morrison/AP/dapd)

Irland Volksabstimmung über EU Fiskalpakt Wahllokal

A low turnout was being reported early evening in Ireland for the referendum vote on the European Union's fiscal pact.

More than 3.1 million people are entitled to vote in the referendum. Polling stations opened at 7am and closed at 10pm local time. The counting of votes will begin at 9am Friday local time with the result expected by early evening.

Turnout was reported as being at between 15 per cent and 25 per cent by returning officers in the various constituencies by late afternoon. In Mayo, approximately 19 per cent of the electorate had cast their ballot by 5pm local time in the evening.

Campaign rhetoric

Irelandis the only country holding a national referendum on the fiscal pact, which all 27 EU members have signed except Britain and the Czech Republic.

In the run up to the vote, the "yes" campaign warned that a vote against the pact could exclude Ireland from emergency EU funds when its current bailout package expires in 2013.

The Irish government has warned it would only be able to get guaranteed financial help from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the new permanent bailout fund which comes into force in July, if voters approve the treaty.

Eighteen months ago, Ireland was forced to accept an 85-billion-euro ($105 billion) bailout from the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) after its economy came close to collapse.

Critics of the pact have labeled it an austerity treaty as it ultimately empowers the EU to fine countries that overspend.

jm/slk (Reuters, AFP)