Ireland Abortion Referendum Exit Polls Signal Emphatic 'Yes' Vote To Repeal Eighth Amendment

Graeme Demianyk
A woman lays flowers next to a mural of Savita Halappanavar in Dublin, as Ireland went to the polls.

Ireland’s historic referendum on liberalising its abortion laws is on course to be a landslide for the ‘Yes’ campaign, according to two exit polls.

Polls closed at 10pm, and minutes later the Irish Times published an exit poll projecting that ‘Yes’ was on course to get 68% of the vote, and ‘No’ just 32%.

An hour later, an exit poll conducted on behalf of Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTE, also suggested victory for those campaigning to liberalise the state’s abortion laws, with 69.4% voting in favour.

A final result anywhere close to those would see the repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the state’s constitution - which prohibits terminations unless a mother’s life is in danger - pass convincingly.

Four thousand voters were interviewed by Ipsos/MRBI for the Irish Times as they left polling stations on Friday.

Sampling began at 7am and was conducted at 160 locations across every constituency throughout the day. The margin of error is estimated at +/- 1.5%, the newspaper said.

The Irish Times poll suggested a huge difference in the views held by young and old voters.

According to the paper, 87% of people aged 18 to 24 voted Yes, while 83% of those aged 25 to 34 also voted to repeal.

In stark contrast, the over 65 age group voted No – by 60% to 40%.

Soon after the second exit poll came out, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who supported the campaign to liberalise Ireland’s abortion laws, said: “It’s looking like we will make history tomorrow.”

At the headquarters for the official campaign for ‘Yes’, Together For Yes, there was “barely a dry eye”. 

A breakdown of the poll suggested young people had overwhelmingly vote for ‘Yes’.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that the exit poll projected 68% had voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment, adding: “Hope this is right. #RepealThe8th”

Counting does not begin until Saturday morning, with the official result expected later in the day.

Earlier Varadkar, a proponent of liberalising Ireland’s strict abortion regime, predicted a high turnout would be good for those campaigning for change.

Thousands of Irish citizens living overseas have travelled home in droves to exercise their democratic right on the emotive issue.

The specific question people were asked was whether they wanted to see the Eighth Amendment replaced with wording in the constitution that would hand politicians the responsibility to set future laws on abortion, unhindered by constitutional strictures.

Earlier, Ireland’s president and political leaders were among 3 million people expected to vote, with 6,500 polling stations open across the country.

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