Counting of ballots in the referendum on the European fiscal treaty has begun, and early indications are that the treaty will be approved.
The ballot boxes were opened at 9am today at count centres in all 43 constituencies. Each constituency will forward its results to the central count centre in Dublin Castle, where the result will be formally announced this evening.
As polls closed last night, the indications were that about half of the electorate voted in the referendum.
Early tallies from count centres suggest the treaty was supported by voters in many rural constituencies, middle class and upper class areas, although the ‘No’ vote was strong in working class and border areas.
The referendum appears to have been rejected in a small number of constituencies, but the overall result, as predicted by tallymen, is in favour.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said if he had to call the result nationally, he would be expecting 57%-58% would vote Yes.
Libertas advisor John McGuirk, who campaigned against the Treaty, congratulated the ‘Yes’ side on an effective campaign. “I fear it won’t bring any stability, alas, but you deserve your day,” he said.
Longford-Westmeath TD James Bannon said the absence of under 35 voters from the polling centres yesterday was playing a significant part in the overall result. The decision of the government to hold the referendum on a Thursday rather than a Friday had been criticised as an attempt to prevent students and young workers, who typically live away from their home town, from travelling home to vote.
Deputy Bannon said Fine Gael party workers had witnessed little or no young people voting in this referendum in this constituency.
The turnout in Dublin was reported to be lower than in the last comparable referendum, on the Lisbon Treaty in October 2009, when the national turnout was 59 per cent. Turnout was even lower in many rural parts of the country and observers said it would struggle to reach 50 per cent.
At this early stage, the strongest ‘No’ votes appear to be coming from working class areas of Dublin South-Central at 67%, Dublin North at 60%, and Cork North-Central at 56%. Also notable was a strong ‘No’ vote in the deprived Donegal North-East constituency, at 58%.
In contrast, wealthy areas in south county Dublin scored highly in favour of the Austerity treaty.
Dun Laoghaire has seen a ‘Yes’ vote of 71%, Dublin South at 69%, while the Taoiseach’s own constituency of Mayo at 68%, all from early tallies.
Much of the rest of the country, where tallies have been recorded, has reported a breakdown of about 55% to 45% in favour of the Treaty.
The offical results are expected to be announced this afternoon or early evening.