June 10th, 2008 | Published in Google Public Policy
Voters in Ireland go to the polls on Thursday in a vote that could have a significant impact on the future of the European Union.
The Treaty of Lisbon -- which would make some significant changes to how the European Union works -- must be ratified by all 27 EU Member States before it can enter into force. Ireland is the only one of the Member States that will hold a referendum on the treaty, which takes place on 12 June.
As the referendum approaches, opinion polls seem to show we are heading for a close finish and the Yes and No campaign have ramped up their efforts. For the first time in Ireland a political contest has moved significantly online with a wide variety of websites, blogs, video resources and online advertising providing voters with a huge volume of information and opinion.
With the treaty potentially having a significant impact on economic and social development across Europe, Googlers in our European HQ in Dublin have taken an active interest in the campaign.
We recently hosted a debate at our offices where a panel of prominent speakers set out the Yes and No arguments for a large audience of Googlers. We have worked with the National Forum on Europe (an organisation that provides a forum for debate on European issues) to help them establish a presence on YouTube. The Forum is hosting a series of public debates on the treaty and their YouTube channel gives an opportunity for the views of “ordinary” people to be heard by a wider audience.
We have also partnered with Rock the Vote, an innovative grass-roots campaign which aims to increase voter turnout, particularly among young voters. On 6 June we hosted "Ask The Experts" -- a panel discussion with academics from law and political science, with an aim of providing clear and impartial information to help voters make an informed decision. And on Monday 9 June we facilitated a live web debate with questions from an audience of young voters and from universities across the country via a live web link-up.
Voters in Ireland will have their say on Thursday and people in Ireland and across Europe will watch the outcome closely.