Stronger 'yes' from Denmark

Click to follow
The Independent Online
First edition

COPENHAGEN (Reuter) - An opinion poll published on Sunday showed a widening Danish majority for a 'yes' to the European Community Maastricht union treaty ahead of a second referendum on the pact on May 18.

The poll by the Vilstrup institute, published in the national daily Politiken, showed 59 per cent intended to vote 'yes' and 27 per cent 'no' while 14 per cent were undecided or would not vote.

The survey was made between February 14-16 and indicated increasing support since the previous Vilstrup poll one month ago which showed 53 per cent for 'yes', 31 per cent for 'no', while 16 per cent were undecided.

Danes voted 'no' by a 50.7-49.3 per cent margin to the treaty on closer European political, monetary and economic union on June 2 last year.

The result, blocking Europe-wide implementation of the pact, caused one of the biggest crises in EC history and triggered tension on currency markets which has led to a string of European devaluations, real or effective.

The new vote will be on a revised deal agreed with the EC at a summit in Edinburgh in December, allowing Danes to opt out of the treaty's long-term plans for a common currency, joint defence, union citizenship and supranational police co-operation.

All opinion polls taken since the Edinburgh agreement, which is backed by seven of the eight parties in the Danish parliament, have pointed towards a 'yes'.

But the Vilstrup poll was the first this month to show increasing support for the treaty. Other institutes have earlier reported unchanged or slightly falling support.

While some political scientists believe the 'yes' outcome is virtually certain, most experts agree the race will tighten as the date for the referendum approaches.

Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen, named to Denmark's new Social Democrat-led government last month, said he believed he had a better chance than his Liberal predecessor Uffe Ellemann-Jensen to convince Danes to vote 'yes'.