Ireland goes to the polls on Friday in a referendum on the Seanad, or Senate, and voters are prepared to scrap the chamber which, although the upper house of the Dail (Parliament), has no real power and costs too much to run, according to the latest opinion sample.
An Irish Times poll, in which the opinions of 1,000 voters were taken last Friday and Saturday, showed 62 percent favored getting rid of the Senate when undecided voters were excluded.
Friday’s referendum will simply ask voters whether they want to retain the Senate or abolish it. There is no question facilitating views of those who believe the Senate should be retained but changed.
The 1,000 sampled in the poll favor scrapping the Senate to save money. The coalition of Fine Gael and Labor, who were elected on a pledge to seek to abolish the Senate, claimed its abolition would save €20 million a year. But supporters of the Senate have disputed this figure.
Despite the apparent heavy opposition to a continuation of the Senate, support for the campaign to scrap it has narrowed. Excluding undecided voters, the level of support for abolition was 72 percent in June and there was 74 percent support for abolition in February.
This time, of those voting, 43 percent said the “main reason” was to save money. A further 16 percent said the Senate didn’t do much or had no power and 14 percent said two parliamentary chambers were not needed and that other countries had only one.
Only eight percent said they were motivated first by a wish to reduce the number of politicians, and five percent said their motivation was that senators were not democratically elected. Another four percent said they did not know any senators or what the Senate does.