The Irish government is heading for another kicking in the latest referendum – as the No vote against the break-up of the Senate baffles pundits.
Counting began at 9am local time on Saturday morning after Friday’s referendum on the future of the Senate.
Government parties Fine Gael and Labor had supported the proposal to abolish the second house of the Irish parliament.
They had also endorsed a second referendum to establish a new court of appeal in Ireland.
Early tallies suggest that the No vote is greater than any predicted by the opinion polls in the lead-up to the Senate referendum.
Fine Gael Minister Richard Bruton, the public face of his party’s campaign, admitted the vote was too close to call.
He told Irish state broadcaster: “It is going to be tight but it is too early in the count to make a call.”
Commentators have criticised the wording of the referendum as early tallies in working class Dublin suggest support for a No vote.
Former Fianna Fail Minister Mary O’Rourke said: “There are questions to be answered about the wording of the Senate referendum.
“It was too confusing according to many voters I have spoken to and that has to be looked at. At one stage I heard a voter say ‘vote No for no Seanad’.”
Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan told The Irish Times: “Voters were unsure what a Yes or a No vote meant.”
The paper says there were also reports of some voters not accepting the ballot paper for the second referendum.
The final results will be announced at the central count centre in Dublin Castle on Saturday evening.
Voter turnout for the two referendums was put at just above 30 per cent.