The don't knows have it

Decision day today in Ireland. The streets are packed with exhortations to vote one way or other. Ireland, like India, uses public space to maximum effect during elections. There is such a bewilderingly large array of posters on some roads that accidents must be caused by the faces of jaundiced male politicians bearing down on drivers from all directions.

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And, having spent time in taxis in three cities in Ireland over the last few weeks here are some highly scientific results of my survey and a prediction.

  • I predict, perhaps against the flow, that Ireland will vote yes but…
  • No one seems to know what they are voting for and what it means to Ireland, one way or the other. When both the PM and commissioner admit they haven't read the treaty why expect the populace to have done so?
  • The leaflet the government sent around doesn't seem to have helped many people fathom what they are voting for.
  • Taxi drivers report many fares from elsewhere in Europe hoping that they will vote yes "for them". For example, Cork taxi driver reported some German fares vociferously urging him to vote yes for Germany.
  • Many said taxi drivers suspect, given that no one knows what they are voting for, that they should leave it to the politicians (implying perhaps that the political class is good at dealing with situations where they don't know what they are doing.

Overall, whether the vote is a yes or a no, I suspect the feeling is that, despite protestations from ultra-rightwing Catholics, traditional nationalists, pro-American free marketeers and the far left to the contrary, no one thinks this will really change anything and the EU will rumble on.