Libertas has suffered a triple whammy to its credibility as a force in Irish, never mind European politics, with the publication of an (PDF Alert) opinion poll showing it gaining only 2% of first preference votes in the European Elections in Ireland, losing 69 to 31% in a Lisbon referendum re-run, and with the remarks of it’s ex-Director in favour of ratifying the Treaty
IRELAND DOES not have the luxury of a second No vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum and voters should vote Yes, one of the architects of last year’s Libertas campaign has said.Naoise Nunn, who resigned as executive director of Libertas last September said: “The circumstances have changed: internationally, economically, financially and domestically.
“We don’t have the luxury of doing anything else. I am glad that we had a referendum. We were the only member state to do so, to have a proper debate, or something like a proper debate,” Mr Nunn told The Irish Times .
His public declaration will come as an embarrassment for Libertas founder, Declan Ganley, who is running for the organisation in the European Parliament elections in the North-West constituency.
Both sides were guilty, he said, of “scare-mongering and misinformation” during the referendum campaign. Mr Nunn, who was one of the central figures in Libertas’s campaign last year, is understood to have written a detailed critique of Libertas’s performance last year for Mr Ganley’s attention before his departure last year.
In Ireland’s single transferable vote proportional representation system, Declan Ganley will have to achieve at least 15% of the first preference vote in order to be elected (plus c. another 10% of lower preference votes transferred from candidates with less votes on their elimination from the count). Even allowing for the fact that this poll is very early in the campaign, and the fact that we might expect Ganley to do better in his home constituency, achieving those sorts of numbers from such a low base is a very tall order.
Libertas has attracted quite a lot of negative publicity in both print and television media since the last Referendum campaign chiefly focusing on Ganley’s murky business dealings in Albania and eastern Europe, his close links with the US military industrial establishment, alleged ties to the US neo-conservative Heritage Foundation, and the lack of transparency surrounding Libertas’ funding.
Getting people to vote against a Treaty they are not sure about is one thing, especially when the vote can be cast as a vote against a remote “European Elite” and an extremely unpopular Irish political establishment. Getting people to vote for someone they are not sure about is quite another, and in a climate of distrust against entrepreneurial businessmen who are seen as the main authors of Ireland’s boom to bust economy, this may be a particularly inopportune time for Ganley to run.
There are also increasing signs of a popular campaign in favour of Lisbon as evidenced by a recently launched Pro-Lisbon Youth Group called Generation Yes. Younger voters voted predominantly against the Lisbon Treaty the last time around.
The Irish electorate also have a history of being quite discriminating in how they cast their votes, and may well exercise their animus against their Government in the European Parliament polls rather than through any re-run of the Lisbon Referendum. The same (PDF Alert) poll shows Fianna Fail - the lead Government party - down from 42% in the 2007 general election to a projected 23% in the forthcoming European Parliament polls. The chief beneficiary of their decline has been the opposition Labour Party which is up from 10% to 19% in the same poll leaving it in with a strong chance of increasing it’s representation in the European Parliament from 1 to c. 3 seats.
The Government’s cause was not helped by a recent re-shuffle when one of the sacked ministers, John McGuinness, hired Naoise Nunn to advise him on his caustic criticisms of the Tanaiste (deputy Prime Minister) and the Government in general:
Dick Roche kept his portfolio as Minister for European Affairs and has promised me an interview for this blog. If you have any questions you would particularly like me to ask him, please submit them in the comments below!