People in Ireland have voted to keep their upper house of parliament following a referendum on its proposed abolition.
Voters went to the polls yesterday to vote in two referenda, one on whether the Senate (Seanad) should be abolished after the next general election in 2016.
The final result was very close with a ‘No’ vote (against abolition of the Senate) of just 51.73%. The ‘Yes’ vote was 48.27%.
The rejection of the proposed abolition of the upper house is a surprise and a body blow to the Irish Government.
Before it came to power, the main governing party, Fine Gael, promised a referendum on the issue.
Party leader and Prime Minister Enda Kenny was the main driving force for abolition and had argued that the upper house costs too much money and is inefficient.
The cost of the Senate became the main talking point of the campaign in the weeks leading up to the vote.
Enda Kenny claimed scrapping the Senate would save €20m (£17m) a year.
Those against the abolition argued that the figure would be much less.
The Senate has 60 senators and is loosely based on the House of Lords in the UK.
Members can be nominated by the Prime Minister or special panels of academics and politicians.
The Irish Government supported the ‘Yes’ campaign for the abolition of the upper house.
Unusually, most of the main political parties including Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Fein came together to campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote.
The main opposition party, Fianna Fáil, campaigned for a ‘No’ vote.
A second referendum on the establishment of a Court of Appeal was also held yesterday.
There is currently a High Court and a Supreme Court in Ireland, and the ‘Yes’ campaign argued that a Court of Appeal should also be created.
Supporters say it would cut the backlog of cases currently waiting to be heard in the Supreme Court.
The campaign leading up to the referenda had been somewhat slow and voters seemed disengaged.
The Irish Prime Minister was criticised for not taking part in a televised debate with other party leaders on the referenda issues in the weeks leading up to the vote.
Predictions of a low turnout were correct, with a voter turnout of less than 39.17%.
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Abeg wetin you think?
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