It is clear that the Lisbon Treaty has been decisively rejected by the Irish electorate. The no vote appears especially strong in working-class and rural districts, but it is also significant in middle-class areas.
While non-economic dimensions are certainly important in explaining the outcome, several economics issues have also been quite central.
The most visible element has been the debate about the future of the low Irish corporate tax rate. While the veto on tax rates is retained under the Lisbon Treaty, there was considerable confusion about the prospects for a common European-wide corporate tax base, not helped by the interventions of politicians from some other European countries.
It is also plausible that part of the No vote relates to a lack of comfort with the very high levels of immigration from the new members states over the last five years. While the immigration flows were broadly welcomed during the boom years, the current slowdown in the Irish economy means that there is greater competition for jobs and more pressure on wage rates in construction and services sectors, which may have prompted an anti-Europe vote in some quarters.
Finally, it is striking that the enhanced protection for workers’ rights under the Lisbon Treaty may have prompted No votes from both ends of the spectrum. From the left, there was a concern that the Lisbon Treaty was too pro-business and the protections for workers’ rights did not go far enough; from the right, the Lisbon Treaty may have smacked too much of a ‘European Social Model’ rather than the Anglo-American hybrid that is favoured by many in Irish business.