[JURIST] Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said Friday that a referendum to ratify the new EU reform treaty [JURIST news archive] has failed, with early results showing 53.4 percent of Irish citizens voting against it [RTÉ.ie report]. The result could halt European Union plans to implement the instrument, properly known as the Treaty of Lisbon [official website; PDF text], as it cannot take effect unless it is ratified by all signatories. Treaty proponents blamed its defeat on confusing language, saying most voters were unable to understand the document's significance. Ireland is the only EU nation to put the treaty to a public vote [BBC Q/A], although the UK High Court last month agreed [JURIST report] to consider whether the British government must also hold a referendum on the treaty. BBC News has additional coverage. The Irish Independent News has local coverage.
Leaders from the 27 countries that make up the European Union signed the reform treaty [JURIST report] last December, and fourteen countries have ratified the document [JURIST archive]. In 2005, an earlier draft for a European constitution [JURIST news archive] also failed when voters in France and the Netherlands [JURIST reports] rejected the proposal in national referenda.