LONDON, UK – Ireland will hold a referendum on the European fiscal treaty on May 31, Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore announced Tuesday.
Gilmore told Ireland’s parliament he was confident the majority of the public would back the government in supporting the treaty, which places restrictions on state spending and imposes tough public deficit rules, the Associated Press reported.
Twenty-five of the EU’s 27 members have signed up to the new compact, which is designed to protect the euro currency from collapse and prevent a repeat of the Greek crisis.
Only the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom refusing to support it. The treaty must be ratified by January 2013.
More from GlobalPost: Ireland to hold referendum on European fiscal treaty
Ireland is expected to be the only European nation to hold a referendum on ratifying the compact. It received legal advice in January stating that under the country’s constitution the public had be to asked whether they backed the treaty
The bill to amend the constitution in anticipation of May’s referendum is being prepared for publication “towards the end of this week,” according to the Irish Times.
Irish voters previously rejected European treaties in 2001 and 2008, although in replayed second referendums they accepted both texts.
However, Ireland’s three main political parties back the fiscal compact, with the opposition Fianna Fáil party indicating it will support the government and campaign for a yes vote in May, according to the BBC.
More from GlobalPost: Ireland falls back into recession
A no result in the referendum would probably not scupper the compact, as only 12 euro zone states have to ratify it before the treaty can come into force.
But a negative vote would be politically explosive and prevent Dublin from accessing loans from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the successor to the euro zone’s current bailout fund.
In November 2010, the International Monetary Fund and European Union provided Ireland with $112 billion worth of emergency loans to tackle huge debts and borrowing costs after the government bailed out banks left with huge liabilities due to a burst property bubble.
More from GlobalPost: Chinese cars, made in Bulgaria