DUBLIN (Reuters) - Final opinion polls show that Irish voters are likely to give the green light to the European Union’s new fiscal treaty, with the ‘Yes’ campaign leading comfortably ahead of the referendum on Thursday.
Ireland will hold what is likely to be the only popular vote on the so-called “fiscal compact”, a German-inspired pact for stricter budget discipline.
The ‘Yes’ campaign, supported by the three largest political parties who have warned a rejection would undermine the country’s position in the euro zone, has been ahead in the polls since the vote was called three months ago.
While opponents have tried to tap growing anger at the government’s austerity drive to defeat the treaty, 49 percent of voters plan to vote in favor, with 35 percent against and 16 percent undecided, according to a Sunday Business Post/Red C poll.
If undecided voters are excluded, the treaty is backed by 58 percent of voters, with 42 percent against.
Debate in Dublin has focused mainly on a clause that allows access to Europe’s new bailout fund only to states that ratify the treaty - something the government has described as an essential backstop to its plans to return to bond markets.
But as voters go to the polls on Thursday, Irish politicians are mindful that voters have twice rejected European treaties in recent years before reversing course in repeat votes.
Those who have yet to make up their minds could also cause a late swing.
More than one-in-four said they are yet to make up their minds according to the Sunday Independent/Millward Brown Lansdowne poll, while 42 percent supported the treaty and 28 percent were opposed. The ‘undecided’ figure has lowered from 35 percent a week ago.
A Sunday Times poll also supported a likely victory for the ‘Yes’ camp with some 45 percent of voters saying they would support the treaty, 30 percent were opposed and 20 percent yet to decide or unlikely to vote.
Opponents, led by the increasingly popular Sinn Fein party, have seized on a push by newly elected French President Francois Hollande to do more to stimulate growth and not only focus on cost-cutting measures.
The Irish government has rejected calls for the referendum to be postponed to allow the treaty to be changed.
While the treaty needs the approval of only 12 of the 17 euro zone countries to be ratified, an Irish rejection would undermine Europe’s strategy for overcoming a debt crisis thrown sharply into focus by political disarray in Greece.
Reporting by Lorraine Turner; Editing by Sophie Hares