Glimmer of light in Lisbon tunnel

The Irish Times poll on a new Lisbon referendum is a close call, too close for comfort but heading in the right direction.

43 per cent now saying they would vote Yes, 39 per cent No and 18 per cent having no opinion.
When the “don’t knows” are excluded this gives the Yes side 52.5 per cent, with the No side on 47.5 per cent. It compares to the referendum result in June of 53.4 per cent No and 46.6 per cent Yes.

Expert economic opinion, if there is still such a thing these days, is clearly in favour of huddling up close to Europe in these tough times. Politically and economically Europe will seem like a rock of stability when everything is uncertain. European pressure on a small country like Ireland may not be entirely welcome but it’s clearly working, particularly after the full force of the financial crisis has broken.

Even in today’s overwhelmingly urban society, the support of farmers who only five months ago were among the Treaty’s strongest opponents is a striking sign of this swing of opinion. Timing will be vital and I assume a new referendum before the June Euro-elections remains unlikely. Also, confusing the issue with mounting general grievances against the government since the budget as Colman has done terribly complicates the politics. From the poll there are encouraging signs that the public can tell the difference. The over-elaborate scenario described by by the Centre of European Reform now seems less plausible.

“A Fine Gael-led coalition government would still have a mountain to climb to convince the Irish electorate to say yes to Lisbon. First the new government would have to find a way to make clear to voters that sticking with the Nice treaty means Ireland is about to lose its automatic right to be ‘represented’ on the European Commission. Second, it would have to give more power to the Oireachtas – the Irish Houses of Parliament – to decide how EU policy is decided at home. (One idea is to include a special ‘EU auditor’ post in the Irish constitution as a watchdog on European matters.) Third, the government would probably have to secure revamped promises on old bugbears in Ireland’s relationship with the EU such as abortion and defence, as well as new ones like tax harmonisation and, possibly, the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

It so happens that a second Irish referendum before the UK general election in 2010 or even soon after it, would be a godsend particularly to the Tories. It would get them off the hook of a British referendum, which they’d love to happen but won’t yet admit it – always assuming of course that the Irish voted yes this time.

  • fair_deal

    This is a push poll. You overlook one important caveat.

    “In the poll, people were asked how they would vote if the treaty was modified to allow Ireland to retain an EU commissioner and other Irish concerns on neutrality, abortion and taxation were clarified in special declarations.”

    Maybe less to do with the pressure from Europe and more to do with the poll question promising to address areas of concern/objection.

  • Mark McGregor

    If we place a chicken in every pot and a car in every driveway would you vote Yes?

    What an utterly worthless poll.

  • Mark,

    Indeed.

  • Wilde Rover

    From the Irish Times,

    “The poll question also assumes that the Government will be able to negotiate clarifying declarations on issues like abortion, neutrality and taxation, which could be appended to the treaty.”

    “However, one important difference between the current poll and the earlier polls that put the Yes side ahead is that a substantial majority of voters have now come to a clear view on the issue.”

    What issue? I don’t remember the Eurocrats saying anything about a separate tax deal for Ireland. Does this mean that Ireland is going to be some sort of super tax haven within the EU, or is this just something sweet looking to stick in a loaded poll question?

    Clear? Clear as mud.

    And what’s with the language in the article?

    “Among women 40 per cent intend to vote No compared with 38 per cent Yes, with 23 per cent in the don’t know category. This is still a big improvement on the last poll in June, which showed that 32 per cent of women were in the No camp, just 25 per cent intended to vote Yes, and a substantial 36 per cent were undecided.”

    Improvement in what? Turnout or swing to the Yes side?

    “In party terms Fianna Fáil voters are the most positive with 51 per cent intending to vote Yes and 34 per cent No.”

    Positive? Does this mean that everyone who intends to vote No is just being negative?

    “While the poll result will come as a boost for the Yes side,”

    Some might say that this was the sole intention of the poll, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

  • Greenflag

    A new or at least a much reformed world economic order is underway . The G_-20 countries ( Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the US and the EU ( another 24 countries ) represent about 85% of the world economy, and will determine the overall financial world structure within which smaller countries like Ireland , Iceland , Denmark , etc can operate .

    The current financial crisis like a trip to the gallows for a condemned man, has concentrated minds wonderfully not just in Ireland but worldwide . The line spouted by Dave on several posts that we could still be a Celtic Tiger economy had we left the Eurozone and adopted ‘Taylor’s Rules ‘ is seen for what it is /was, with the entire world now trying to avoid a severe deflationary downward economic spiral by keeping interest rates low and primimg the economic pump by massive government intervention across the world .

    The belief seemingly held by some that Ireland could have remained as an oasis of ‘non recession’ prosperity in a continent and a world in recession , is evidence of a failure to recognise how interdependent we all are in this global economy , and how much more Ireland is dependent on exports as a percentage of GDP than the larger countries .

    In the above context Ireland’s interest is represented by the EU . Those who cling to an outdated belief that we can go it alone with our own currency a la Iceland are mistaken . The world is going one way and we either go with it and work for reform from within or we remain outside .

    One thing however has become clear and that is that the Libertas /Sinn Fein ‘No ‘ alliance together with their French and Austrian ‘fascist ‘ supporters, with the shady financial backing of discredited neo conservative elements actively involved in profiteering out of the Iraqi war – these have nothing to offer Ireland or Europe or it’s people/peoples .

    As to the poll ? There will be more no doubt before a second referndum is held.

    Cowan needs to put country before his party’s fortunes in any prospective mix of a repeat Lisbon referendum with MEP elections . The Irish electorate are sophisticated enough to pass the Lisbon Treaty while handing FF a drubbing in the EU Parliament election .

  • Brian Walker

    fair deal
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2008/1117/breaking40.htm

    The retention of a commissioner for each country wold seem to me to be the necessary minimum and is increasingly mooted for a new deal, has it not?

    wilde rover etc. Other supposed issues like abortion and neutrality are purely neuralgic and should be dealt with the necessary political warm words from all the parties.

  • Wilde Rover

    Greenflag,

    “In the above context Ireland’s interest is represented by the EU .”

    “The world is going one way and we either go with it and work for reform from within or we remain outside .”

    You have me confused. Are you talking about the EU or some sort of world government?

    I thought the Irish electorate voting No was working for reform from within.

    And now the Irish people will vote Yes on Lisbon because of global financial crisis?

  • Wilde Rover

    Brian Walker,

    “wilde rover etc. Other supposed issues like abortion and neutrality are purely neuralgic and should be dealt with the necessary political warm words from all the parties.”

    I never mentioned abortion or neutrality. I just mentioned the taxation. Am I really missing something and is Ireland really an EU tax haven now?

  • fair_deal

    BW

    “The retention of a commissioner for each country wold seem to me to be the necessary minimum and is increasingly mooted for a new deal, has it not?”

    And? It remains a push/chicken in every pot poll and even then it doesn’t have lead barely beyond the margin of error. You also forget that early Lisbon polls showed a lead for the Yes camp that evaporated in the heat of a campaign.

    Remember the unpopularity of the government parties which will make a second re-run even more difficult:
    http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/latest-poll-confirms-dramatic-shift-away-from-fianna-fail/

  • William

    Surely it is wrong to keep voting to you get the correct result…….shouldn’t these votes be like the supposed Border Poll, which was to happen every 10 years, not every 10 months !

  • Nomad

    On the point of EU commissioners. Their role is not to act as representives of their member state, but to act in the best interest of the EU as a group. The idea that Ireland is losing representation seems a little weak/populist. It does seem like this should have been entirely randomised and smaller countries not solely pushed this direction though!

    On tax havens- I don’t see why Ireland couldn’t maintain a lower level of corporation tax just like Delaware in the US. No reason why this can’t be made explicit either though.

  • ulsterfan

    In the end Ireland will do what Europe wants—so much for sovereignty.
    A year ago the Celtic Tiger roamed the financial jungle but now Ireland is the pauper of Europe and will do what its master decrees.
    This will be dressed up as some minor change to the treaty.
    Ireland will then discover that the whole Treaty fails because of lack of support from UK and other member States.
    All this for nothing and pride lost.

  • Dave

    Greenflag, did you notice that the G-20 operates without a staff of 170,000 bureaucrats? Indeed, it doesn’t have any staff or even a permanent secretariat. Unlike the EU, it is a model of how countries can co-operate on common interests without merging their sovereignty to become a backward, over-regulated, uncompetitive superstate. As the G-20 and free-trade agreements such as NAFTA show, it isn’t nessessary to merge sovereignty in order to have free trade: it is only nessessary not to impose protectionist policies. 😉

    And before Europhiles get their giddy hopes of perverting democracy up by having the partisan, pro-treaty Euro Irish Times create a bandwagon effect by publishing loaded polls, they should remember that the pro-treaty side went into the last referendum with a lead of 18% in the polls and not the 4% that this loaded, begging-the-question poll shows.

    You will lose the re-run simply because Irish people – in common with the people of all of the other nations of Europe – do not want a totalitarian superstate that is run by bureaucrats and mediocre political hacks that are not accountable to them.

  • Dave

    By the way, Greenie, have you ever heard of Romania? It is an EU member state that is referred to as the ‘Celtic’ Tiger of the East with annual growth rates of 8% of GDP. Unlike the former Celtic Tiger which had its economy decimated by the lunatic expansionist monetary policies of the EU’s ECB, it did not surrender control of its monetary policy to the European Central Bank and, ergo, it is not a victim of the ECB’s boom-and-bust policies.

    Indeed, it is also free to devalue its currency if it feels the need to inflate its exports. Ireland, on the other hand, is heavily dependent on exports and has seen the rise of the Euro make those exports uncompetitive. Is it any wonder that an IDA report found that 61% of FDI investors who came to Ireland before it joined the Eurozone now regret investing in Ireland? We should exit the Eurozone and immediately devalue the (restored) punt to boost our exports.

  • Greenflag

    Dave ,

    ‘did you notice that the G-20 operates without a staff of 170,000 bureaucrats? ‘

    No I did’nt . By the time they get back to their own countries and start working on the details they ‘ll probably in total use a lot more more than 170,000 to finesse any deal . The significant point of agreement worldwide appears to be that Milton Friedman laissez faire and trickle down economics will be very much out of favour .

    ‘By the way, Greenie, have you ever heard of Romania?’

    Yes -it’s GDP per capita is less than Botswana’s and 8% growth there is in absolute monetary terms probably a good deal less 1% growth in Ireland .

  • Oilifear

    “Greenflag, did you notice that the G-20 operates without a staff of 170,000 bureaucrats?”

    Dave, you really should do better than to look to Open Europe for a source. “170,000 people now work for the EU institutions.” Oh really? “As well as those who work for the EU directly …” Wait. So you mean you are going to count people that don’t work for the EU as being among those that do? Using Open Europe’s calculations we should reckon the number employed by the G-20 as being the combined civil and public services of the G-20’s member countries.

    (For a neutral estimate of the cost of the EU, you can refer to the 2008 EU budget. You may be surprised to learn that the entire budget of EU comes in as roughly equivalent to the budget for Dublin City Council in the same year.)

    Oh, and Dave, are you sure it’s Romania you mean to talk about? Is this the same Romania whose credit rating was lowered last week the the status of “junk”. Hardly a shining light for retention of one’s own currency. Indeed, if this is the same Romania you are talking about, you will find them tumbling over themselves to join the Euro in a bid to allay their investors’ fears.

    “We should exit the Eurozone and immediately devalue the (restored) punt to boost our exports.”

    *shakes head in despair*

  • Greenflag

    dave ,

    ‘We should exit the Eurozone and immediately devalue the (restored) punt to boost our exports.”

    IIRC Britain pursued a policy of continuing devaluation in the 70’s and 80’s the idea being that it would improve British manufacturing exports and restore health to the non performing sectors of industry .

    The result ?

    Germany with an appreciating currency held on to most of it’s engineering and auto industry . Britain with it’s devaluationary policies ended up losing it’s auto industry and much of it’s engineering skills.

    Olifear ,

    Not just Romania , but also Serbia and Iceland among others will be signing up for the Euro which could well be the worlds number one reserve currency a few years after this current crisis is over . Britain one would hope will eventually join the eurozone.

  • Ri Na Deise

    Fcuk the EU as far as Im concerned. We’re after gettin our use out of it at this stage. They rode us with Nice and now their trying the same with Lisbon.

  • Avoid the Lisbon Trick. Vote YES to Free Europe at http://www.FreeEurope.info. Last chance…

  • Greenflag

    ri na deise ,

    Go to Iceland – go directly to Iceland -do not pass go -do not collect 200 euros and don’t forget you can have all the worthless currency you want but it won’t buy you a bag of beans .

    Anybody still holding onto sterling as the currency continues to devalue is in for a drubbing . Britain outside the Eurozone will be just a larger Iceland sooner or later, and will given the choice between financial strangulation or the Eurozone will opt for the Eurozone .

    Excellent article in today’s FT on the hard choices ahead for sterling .

    And the idiots of SF & Libertas expect Ireland to follow the Iceland and UK example ?

    We may be green but not that green;).

  • Greenflag

    William Humbug Jr,

    Free Cornflakes – Vote YES or NO ?

    Europe has been ‘free ‘ since 1945 in the West and since 1990 in the East .

    I’m expecting a demand soon enough for chips in the UK and Ireland to be renamed -‘Libertas Fries ‘ 🙁

    Ireland belongs in the EU and as part of a strong currency zone which will ensure that we will not have to pay an extra ‘premium’ for having the ‘freedom ‘ of a so called ‘sovereign’ currency such as sterling or the Icelandic equivalent .

    Wise up .

    PS the only place where holding sterling now is an advantage in the UK is in Newry, Co Down, Northern Ireland which is just a few miles from the Eurozone . Without the Eurozone nearby retail sales in Newry would be 40% of what they are . And the same can be said for many of NI towns close to the Republic’s border with NI .

  • George

    Still peddling fear and loathing I see Greenflag.

    Iceland is in the mess it’s in because of its crazy economic policies, not because its non-membership of the euro.

    I don’t see the Swiss banging down the EU’s door, do you?

    It’s all a matter of prudence.

    Bank of Ireland shares now at 80-odd euro cent I see.

  • Wilde Rover

    George,

    “Still peddling fear and loathing I see Greenflag.”

    Indeed.

    If Ireland looks like it will be hit by a freak tsunami we can expect the blame will be placed at the doorstep of No voters.

  • Greenflag

    george ,

    ‘Iceland is in the mess it’s in because of its crazy economic policies, not because its non-membership of the euro.’

    True. Iceland now wants to protect itself in the future from such scenario’s by becoming part of the eurozone .

    ‘I don’t see the Swiss banging down the EU’s door, do you? ‘

    No but then Ireland is not Switzerland and we don’t have a 400 year history of fiscal independence or bank vaults filled to the brim with the ill gotten and not so ill gotten gains of every despot in the world since Savonarola .

    ‘It’s all a matter of prudence.’

    There was nothing ‘prudent ‘ about the neo conservative economic policies pursued by the Bush administration over the past 8 years.

    As I said hold sterling and be prepared to see your pension fund , retirment savings etc devalue in relative terms to the Eurozone area and as a bonus when the dust has cleared on the present crisis you will also get to pay those higher interest rates our friend Dave has been recommending 😉

  • George

    Greenflag,
    “Iceland now wants to protect itself in the future from such scenario’s by becoming part of the eurozone.”

    No, one party has set up a commission to look into the merits of such a move. Don’t lose the run of yourself. We’ll see where they stand in six months.

    Anyway, if anything it is to get out of its current mess that Iceland would consider becoming part of the eurozone, not because it sees a future in it. These people have huge foreign debt and a valueless currency. There is a world of difference.

    As for sterling you may be right but I wouldn’t want a pension in dollars either. It could go through the floor any time in the next year.

    The euro might not be a wonderful bet either if the low-debt inflation-averse Germans plump for a spell of stagnation/deflation leaving us high-debt Irish with ever increasing burdens. They would come out the other side, we would have multi-generational debt.

    PS:

    On a simplistic level, if the EU survives until October 2009 and puts into place the measures it feels are necessary then the argument about Lisbon being essential will ring hollow for many.

    They will say we have survived the greatest financial crisis in 80 years without it.

  • Greenflag

    George,

    It will take more than six months to see how the land lies . There is President Obama and his financial advisor Mr ( I devalued the pound ) Soros yet to contend with and the new world financial order which may not see the light of day until well into next year .

    We can be sure that the Chinese and other large emerging economies will have an input into any new system particularly in relation to ‘transparency’ . Remember that compared to the Americans and to a lesser extent Europeans the Chinese and other East Asian societies remain committed to the idea of the individual as less important than society as a whole. How this will impact any new world financial order I can’t say but it’s a studied fact that when confronted with scenes of underwater life Americans focus on the fish , whereas the Japanese and Chinese focus on the water and the relationships between the fish . Presumably in the new financial world the biggest fish (USA ) won’t have it all it’s own way anymore . In the American model the past two decades have been focused on the larger sharks getting more and more of the take such that they eventually ran out of smaller fish to prey on and thus sub prime mortgages being sold to the smallest fish just to keep the bigger ones happy .

    It’s not just the Icelanders who will be looking to hook up with the Euro . The Serbs among others in Eastern Europe are also being drawn towards Frankfurt’s ECB as a better bet for future financial stability.

    The Germans too will not have it all their own way either as they have Federal elections coming up and Frau Merkel like any other politician will not want to see unemployment numbers rise too much . And although the dollar proved it’s reserve status by strengthening against other currencies including the Euro in this crisis it will imo suffer a major reversal after the ‘new ‘ world financial system is installed next year.

    In the context of the world wide reforms coming in we can expect to see a strengthening of the powers of the European Central Bank which was shown to be very slow off the mark in it’s response to this crisis than the British equivalent.

    Getting out of this crisis will be dependent on Americans restoring confidence in their ‘consumer orientated ‘ economy and this can probably only be achieved in the short term 3 to 5 years by ‘printing ‘ more money and not reducing present expenditure and by ‘liquidating ‘ debt and doing something to reduce the build up of foreclosures which are a drag on the economy. If you recall Mr McCain’s policy was to cut expenditure at this time ? Americans responded by voting for Obama .

    New paradigm ahead for all of us .

    If I was living in NI and in the retail trade I’d consider a move to Newry for the next few years 😉 It’s only an hour from civilisation i.e Dublin .

  • Oilifear

    “I don’t see the Swiss banging down the EU’s door, do you?”

    The Swiss example is quite an extraordinary case, and one that we may look to/learn from post-Lisbon in Ireland. When 50.3% of Swiss voters said ‘No’ to joining the EEA in 1994, Swiss negotiations for EU membership were put on ice, where they still remain (technically Switzerland is still an applicant state). Instead, they have voluntarily taken on EU law through “bilateralism”. This is not a case of the Swiss merely adopting national mirrors of EU law, but choosing to submit themselves to *actual* EU law and jurisdiction – but without any of the benefits of membership or influence in the legislative process. Is that what we want for Ireland?

    “No, one party has set up a commission to look into the merits of such a move.”

    One party of government fully supports joining, both party have set up the commission. The preliminary plan is to apply for membership next year with an eye to joining as early in 2011. The financial crisis has caused public support for membership in Iceland to move from around 50% to up to 80%.

    “… if the EU survives until October 2009 and puts into place the measures it feels are necessary then the argument about Lisbon being essential will ring hollow for many.”

    Not essential. But useful. Ask yourself, who does Sarkozy represent at the G-20: France or Europe? Then reconsider the value of a independent European presidency.

    “www.FreeEurope.info” – !?

    As disingenuous and vacuous as anything I’ve seen from Libertas or Sinn Féin and their likes.

  • Oilifear