Cablegate: Lisbon Treaty Referendum Campaign Begins to Warm Up In

DE RUEHDL #0237/01 1221426
R 011426Z MAY 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


(B) DUBLIN 186 and Previous
(C) Dublin 169 and Previous

DUBLIN 00000237 001.2 OF 002


1. The pace of campaigning for the June 12 Lisbon Treaty referendum
has begun to warm up, as the Irish Referendum Commission announced
the launch of its public awareness campaign. A poll released on
April 27 has the referendum vote too close to call. However, Prime
Minister-elect Brian Cowen declared on April 29 that the government
would support the Treaty "vigorously." Once Cowen is installed as
Prime Minister on May 7, campaigning will surge. We expect that
public opinion will shift toward 'Yes' as the referendum date draws
nearer and the main political parties bring their clout into play in
support of the Treaty. End summary.

Referendum Commission Launches Campaign

2. The Irish Referendum Commission (an independent statutory body
set up to ensure fairness of public expenditure in referendums,
promote public awareness of referendums, and encourage the
electorate to vote) launched its public awareness campaign on the
Lisbon Treaty on April 28. An information website
( has been set up to explain the main
details of the document. More than two million informational
handbooks will be delivered to every voting household in the coming
weeks. Advertisements have been placed in the media ahead of the
government's official campaign, which will commence on May 12. At
the launch of its campaign, the Referendum Commission stressed its
view that Ireland will continue to be able to veto demands by
European Union member states for changes to its corporate taxes if
the Lisbon Treaty is passed.

3. Public interest in the Treaty debate has heightened, with a
sharp increase in media coverage of Treaty and referendum issues,
including radio and television programs, newspaper articles, op-eds,
and letters to the editor. In addition, a series of senior European
leaders have visited Ireland recently to talk up the Treaty,
including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Commission
President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Polls Have It "Too Close to Call"

4. As the Lisbon Treaty referendum campaign shifts into higher gear
in the run-up to the June 12 referendum, a poll published in the
April 27 Sunday Business Post showed that the margin between the
'Yes' and 'No' sides in the campaign had narrowed to four points.
The poll recorded support for the Treaty at 35 percent, with 31
percent of those surveyed opposed. With six weeks to go before the
vote, the number of undecided voters remains high, at 34 percent.
The results also suggested that a majority of farmers now oppose the
Treaty because of their concerns about World Trade Organization
(WTO) negotiations (Ref A).

5. A separate survey by the Referendum Commission has found a very
low level of understanding about the Lisbon Treaty among the public,
with 80 percent of respondents saying they did not understand the
Treaty. On April 28, Ireland's EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy
told the press that the poll result should act as a wake-up call to
the 'Yes' side, and said that there will be a "big battle" to
convince the Irish electorate to vote in favor of the Treaty.

Those in Favor ...

6. Those calling for a 'Yes' vote, including all the political
parties (with the exception of Sinn Fein) say the Treaty is good for
Ireland, good for Europe, and good for Ireland in Europe.
Supporters stress that the purpose of the Treaty is to streamline
the legislative process in European institutions, and that the EU's
democratic accountability will be improved by the Treaty.

7. Key Irish leaders are speaking out in support of the Treaty,
highlighting the many benefits Ireland has received from the EU
since joining in 1973. On April 27, Irish Prime Minister Bertie
Ahern issued a stark warning on the consequences of rejecting the
Treaty, stating that a 'No' vote would have "repercussions that
would do immense damage to Ireland," and would be a "disaster for
the country."

... and those Opposed

DUBLIN 00000237 002.2 OF 002

8. The opponents of the Treaty, however, claim the Treaty will
undermine workers' rights, usher in a European super-state with a
military dimension (which will conflict with Ireland's long-standing
policy of military neutrality), damage the interests and role of
small member states like Ireland, and hurt Ireland's farmers by
reducing farm subsidies. They claim Ireland will lose its veto in a
number of areas, including corporate taxation (where it currently
holds a competitive advantage within the EU), and that the Treaty
will create a de facto constitution, comprising more than 90 percent
of the substance of the EU Constitutional Treaty, which was rejected
by the people of the Netherlands and France in 2005.


9. The government hasn't really started its campaign yet; the pace
of campaigning is therefore only warming up. However, Prime
Minister-elect Brian Cowen declared on April 29 that the government
would support the Treaty "vigorously." Once Cowen is installed as
Prime Minister on May 7, and has announced his Cabinet, we expect to
see a major surge in campaigning. Meanwhile, a significant
potential impediment to the passage of the Treaty - the danger that
Irish voters would vote 'No' on the Treaty as a protest vote against
outgoing Taoiseach Bertie Ahern - has disappeared with Ahern's
announced resignation (Ref B). Although the recent polling figures
make it appear - at the moment - that the referendum vote is too
close to call, we expect that public opinion will shift toward 'Yes'
as the main political parties bring their clout into play in support
of the Treaty. It remains to be seen, however, whether Ireland's
political parties will be able to translate any increase in support
of the Treaty into actual turnout on referendum day.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>


Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>


  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC