Victory! Referendum exit polls: Abortion set to be decriminalized in Ireland

Yes campaign on course for historic victory by landslide margin, surveys suggests

VOTING MATTERS! - Irish people from around the world traveled back home to vote, and end the country's strict abortion ban. AND THEY WON! 68% to 32% - it's a landslide!

Ireland has voted by a landslide margin to repeal the eighth amendment to its constitution, opening the door to a change in the country’s restrictive abortion laws, exit polls suggest.

If the emphatic results are correct, the Irish government will be able to legislate on allowing terminations.

The historic referendum vote will be decided by a margin of 68 per cent to 32, an Ipsos/MRBI survey predicted. An RTE exit put the Yes campaign’s lead even higher, at 69 per cent.

Counting of votes will begin at 9am on Saturday, with an official result expected to be announced in the afternoon.

NOTABLE - People over 65 were the ONLY Irish demographic group voting "No", highlighting the worldwide problem of old age social conservatism.

However, the size of the Yes campaign’s predicted lead leaves little doubt that Ireland has voted to repeal the eighth amendment 35 years after it was introduced.

“It’s amazing,” one young woman in Dublin’s Temple Bar told The Independent after the first exit poll emerged. “It’s everything that we ever wanted, just to be able to have ownership over our own bodies and feel respected and loved and wanted.

“I hope this poll is correct and tomorrow we wake up to a new day for women in Ireland.”

Four thousand voters were interviewed for the Ipsos/MRBI survey, carried out for the Irish Times at 160 polling stations. The newspaper said the margin of error in previous surveys was 1.5 per cent.

The result of the exit poll was announced minutes after voting closed at 10pm on an emotive day which saw thousands of Irish citizens living overseas travel home to exercise their democratic right.

Among the throngs of hen nights and pub drinkers in the Irish capital’s centre, people wearing Yes wearing stickers spoke of their delight.

“I think the Yes vote really came out this time,” said 54-year-old Dave Seacy. “People were coming in from New York and back on the same day, just to vote. It was the right thing to be done. The no campaign got it wrong. The vote was for choice.”

Sophie Hughes, 28, said: “I’m happy that a load of young people voted – this seems to be the year young people finally got out there. I believe the exit poll.

“The closer it got to the vote, the more people started talking about it. This is a new day for Ireland.”

Seventy-seven per cent of voters in the Irish capital backed Yes, the highest proportion anywhere in the country, according to Ipsos/MRBI poll.

The survey suggested the vasty majority of young people voted for repeal, including 87 per cent of 18- to 25-year-olds and 83 per cent of 25- to 34-year olds.

If exit polls are correct, the Irish government intends to legislate by the end of the year to make it relatively easy for women to obtain an abortion early in pregnancy.

In 2015, Ireland voted for same-sex marriage equality by 62 per cent, but it was widely expected that this vote would be much closer.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who supports liberalising Ireland‘s strict abortion regime, predicted earlier on Friday that a high turnout would be good for those campaigning for change

The eighth amendment of the Irish constitution was inserted in 1983 to ban abortion, and at that time it was passed by 67 per cent of the population.

If this exit poll is correct, there will be a powerful symmetry between the two historic referendums, which would both have been passed by a two-thirds majority.

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

John McGuirk, communications director for Save the 8th, which fought against repeal, conceded the tide of public opinion had turned against his campaign.

He said: “The 8th did not create an unborn child’s right to life – it merely acknowledged it. The right exists, independent of what a majority says. That said, with a result of that magnitude, clearly there was very little to be done.”

The story was originally published by The Independent