Jonathan Saul and Peter Graff, Reuters, June 13, 2008
Irish voters have rejected the European Union’s Lisbon treaty, putting plans to overhaul the bloc’s institutions in peril and humiliating Ireland’s political leaders.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern conceded the vote shortly after midday on Friday as tallies from around the country showed the treaty had been defeated in an overwhelming number of constituencies.
“It looks like this will be a ‘No’ vote,” Mr. Ahern told RTE television. “At the end of the day for a myriad of reasons the people have spoken.”
The Lisbon treaty was itself an effort to resurrect EU reforms that were torpedoed by French and Dutch voters in 2005.
This time Ireland was only country to entrust its voters with a referendum. The “No” vote means a country with fewer than 1 percent of the EU’s 490 million population could doom a treaty painstakingly negotiated by all 27 member states.
The Lisbon treaty envisages a long-term president of the European Council of EU leaders, a stronger foreign policy chief and a mutual defence pact. Fourteen countries have already ratified the treaty in their national parliaments.
It wasn’t the first time Irish voters have shocked the EU. They almost wrecked the bloc’s plans for eastward expansion in 2001 by rejecting the Nice treaty, but the government staged a second referendum in which that pact passed. The government has said it is not considering a re-run this time around.