Dublin, Oct 6: Irish voters rejected by a narrow margin the abolition of Senate in a referendum held Friday, according to the final results announced Saturday.
Of all the voters from 43 constituencies, 51.7 percent rejected the proposition to scrap the upper house, while 48.3 percent endorsed it, Xinhua reported.
Of the 1,226,374 valid votes cast, 591,937 were in favour and 634,437 votes were against the proposal, a margin of 42,500 votes. A total of 14,355 invalid votes were counted. Turnout was 39.2 percent.
The Irish national parliament consists of the president and an upper and a lower house.
Major Irish parties favour abolishing the Senate. But opposition party Fianna Fail objects to it, arguing that the coalition government of Prime Minister Enda Kenny wants to centralise its power.
Kenny’s government says that eliminating the Senate would save 20 million euros a year.
The prime minister admitted the defeat in the referendum at the Dublin Castle Saturday afternoon. “Sometimes in politics you get a wallop,” he said.
He told reporters that he was “personally disappointed”, but accepted the result of the referendum.
Observers say the defeat marks a major blow for Kenny and his embattled government, which is preparing for another cost-cutting austerity budget on Oct 15, two months early this year to meet a European Commission requirement.
Ireland is now set to exit its 85-billion-euro bailout by the end of this year. That will make it the first eurozone state to end its dependence on a European Union aid programme.