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Lisbon: A hard sell

Mark Mardell | 08:16 UK time, Friday, 13 June 2008

Turnout, they told me, was crucial. Above 50% and it is a Yes. Under 40% and it's a No. Frankly I am suspicious about this analysis, but both camps tell me about 45% of Ireland's voters went to the polls. Right in the middle of knife-edge territory. Irish polling station

But in Ireland, the don't knows have it. I don't mean those who didn't bother to vote.

On talking to people at polling stations the overwhelming impression that comes through is that voters feel they don't understand the Lisbon Treaty. On the whole they agree with Ireland's Eurovision star Dustin the Turkey, who is quoted in the Irish Sun as calling the treaty "gobbledegook" (Geddit?).

At one place a teacher told me she wasn't sure how she was going to vote when she walked into the polling station. Dustin the Turkey poster
She only decided to vote Yes as her pen hovered above the ballot paper.

At a more working-class area of Dublin the polling station staff are bored in the early evening, doing a quiz in the newspaper and chatting on their phones. Hardly anyone has been in. Turnout has been around 30% here, which is higher than the national average at this time, which is 20%. Just then a bit of a rush starts. I ask a couple of young women what they make of the treaty. "I don't know what it's all about." And her friend? "Not a clue." So how did she vote? "No. I'm not going to vote for something I don't understand."Election officials

An elderly couple tell me they don't know what it is all about, either. "But we voted Yes. Did we do the right thing?"

A couple in their thirties with three kids in tow says the Yes campaign has done a bad job of explaining the treaty. "No-one understands it." So they will be voting No.

If it turns out Ireland said No it could be because of the advice from Dustin the Turkey. But I think it will be because of the huge difficulty of finding a simple way to sell a complex legal document.


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