Just a few days to go before Ireland votes on the European fiscal compact treaty also called the “stability treaty”! On May 31st, the Irish people, unlike their European counterparts, will tell their government to ratify or reject this treaty that England and the Czech Republic refused to sign. Ahead of crucial days for Ireland and Europe, we take a look at the yes and no campaigns and debates, and focus on some of the parties’ respective arguments on Twitter.
Back in February 2012, the government announced that because “this treaty is a unique instrument, outside the European Union treaty architecture, on balance, a referendum is required to ratify it”. Since then, the Prime minister Enda Kenny and his cabinet, plus his political party (Fine Gael) and many other interested parties have been intensively advocating for a yes vote. So why should the people of Ireland green light the ratification of this treaty?
Many others forecast what would happen if Ireland dared to vote no: larger Irish firms think their ability to raise debt would be impacted, because a no vote would trigger sovereign rating downgrades by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. Dan O’Brien, Economic Editor at the Irish Times, fears: “a break-up of the single currency; the ejection of Ireland from that currency union; a collapse of the Irish banking system; a Greek-style sovereign default (while remaining in the euro); and a much bigger fiscal adjustment owing to a lack of additional bailout funds. A rejection of the treaty will increase the probability of all of these things happening to varying degrees”. The Prime Minister and others have used different or similar claims to push forward a yes vote:
Neutralpaddy writes in a comment:”we know we need a stricter set of rules that take account of lessons learned, we know who is buttering our bread for the moment (the Germans) and we know what we don’t know – how long it would take to recover nationally if we were outside the Euro tent pissing alone in a Force Ten financial gale”.
However, a number of skeptical Irish people wont bend to such threats. They’ve had enough!
And their tweeting it loud and clear!
In this recent video, economic commentator David McWilliams illustrates what he believes is at stake for this referendum:
Michael Burke, economic consultant, blogged that a no would do “a great service to the population of Europe, pulling the brake on the austerity express before it hits the buffers. For this former economist with Citibank in London, a no vote would be a blow in favour of all the victims of austerity and for all democrats across Europe”.
Listening to what the yes and no campaigners say can’t hide some hard facts Ireland has to deal with. These figures put the above mentioned arguments into context. Ireland is running an important budget deficit: 24.9bn euros in 2011. And according to IMF data, the country fell back into recession in the last three months. However, just a few days ago, the European Commission issued a report stating the Irish budget deficit should fall to 8.3% of GDP in 2012, below the Government’s original forecast of 8.6%.
Eurostat figures released in March 2012 show that Ireland has an unemployment rate of 14.5%. And youth unemployment stood at an alarming 29.4% in 2011 and was possibly rising. The ones that bear the heaviest burden seem to be the households: in the last threee years, their net wealth has declined by 23%. According to a non-governmental organization’s 2012 report, some 706,000 people, including 200,00 children, are living in poverty in Ireland which is an increase of 92,000 in two years.
No doubt Irish citizens will bear this in mind when they cast their vote on May 31st.