Kenny to target Irish referendum in late May

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny is eyeing late May for a referendum to approve December’s European Union-wide fiscal compact — although we may not know the exact date until later this month, per The Irish Times.

Timing is crucial — right now, polls show Irish voters in favor of the treaty, but two months is a long time for opponents to foment opprobrium against a treaty that would place a fiscal straightjacket on national finance ministries by limiting signatories to an annual budget deficit of just 0.5% of nominal GDP.

So the sooner that the referendum is held, it is thought, the better for treaty supporters.  If held in late May, the vote would follow both rounds of the French presidential election, where François Hollande — an avowed opponent of austerity who has called for renegotiation of the terms of the fiscal compact — currently leads polls, as well as tentative Greek legislative elections planned for April.

An outcome that would jeopardize European unity in any of the three could spook European investors.

Although the fiscal compact — not technically an EU treaty after the UK and the Czech Republic opted out — will go into effect with the approval of just twelve countries, Europe will still pay nervous attention to the vote.  The Irish referendum will be the only opportunity for a popular vote on the treaty across the EU, and so a stingingly public defeat would give other nations an excuse to opt out, or at least think twice about the treaty.  Ireland itself, already under the constraints of IMF- and EU-imposed fiscal austerity, is the recipient of bailout money to support its public debt.  An Irish defeat could jeopardize future bailout money and spark an investor crisis throughout the eurozone. Continue reading Kenny to target Irish referendum in late May

Election rap, Senegal edition

As Senegal prepares for the March 25 presidential runoff, here’s your latest ditty — “Le Vote,” a charming little number from Ousmane “Ouza” Diallo.

The song, which is in French, advises voters to accept money, if offered, from candidate representatives, but simultaneously advises voters to vote however they wish, no matter who provides them money or handouts.

The song warns voters, however, not to sell their election cards required to vote at the polls.

More background from Reuters.



A mixed day for Sarkozy

Today’s news was mixed for French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

A new poll shows him with his first-ever lead in the first-round April 22 presidential election — at 28.5% to just 27% for Partis socialiste candidate François Hollande.  Hollande has a slimmer but still quite commanding second-round lead, where he polls 54.5% to Sarkozy’s 45.5% for the May 6 runoff.

Centrist François Bayrou held steady at 13%, but Front National candidate Marine Le Pen lost a point from the prior survey and Jean-Luc Mélenchon gained 1.5%, at 10% his highest poll rating to date.  The shift of voters away from Le Pen (presumably to Sarkozy) and to Mélenchon (presumably away from Hollande) is more than enough to explain first-round movement between Hollande and Sarkozy.

Looming on the horizon, however, are explosive charges from Mediapart, a French investigative website, that Sarkozy illegally received over €50 million from Muammar Gaddafi to finance his 2007 presidential campaign.  Sarkozy has denied the charges — and snarked that if true, Gaddafi certainly didn’t get his money’s worth, as Sarkozy joined British prime minister David Cameron in the NATO-led bombing campaign against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi last year.  The charges remain very much unsubstantiated, though. Continue reading A mixed day for Sarkozy