Vote counting begins after referendums to modernize Irish constitution | Ireland

Ireland began counting votes after a double referendum on proposals to modernize constitutional references to family composition and women’s “life within the household.”

The votes, which took place on International Women’s Day, are the latest attempt to reflect the changing face of Ireland and the declining influence of the once-dominant Catholic Church.

Turnout was mixed when polling stations closed at 10 p.m. on Friday, reaching 50% in some parts of the country but less than 30% elsewhere, according to local television channel RTÉ.

All major political parties support a Yes-Yes vote and, until recently, polls predicted a smooth vote for both.

The results of both votes are expected Saturday evening. Nearly 3.5 million people were eligible to vote.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who leads the coalition that proposed the questions, acknowledged this week that the results were “in play”.

After voting in Dublin, he urged people to vote “yes” to both questions because “all families are equal” and “caregivers should be recognized in our constitution”.

The two proposals – called the Family Amendment and the Care Amendment – ​​would make changes to the text of Article 41 of the Irish constitution, drafted in 1937.

The first asks citizens to broaden the definition of family, beyond that based on marriage, to also include “lasting relationships”, such as cohabiting couples and their children.

The second proposes replacing the outdated language surrounding the “duties of the stay-at-home mother” with a clause recognizing the care provided to each other by family members.

Ireland chose to end constitutional limits on same-sex marriage in 2015 and on abortion in 2018.

In addition to the government coalition and the main opposition party, Sinn Féin, women’s rights groups and family carers have also urged citizens to “vote for equality”.

“We see these changes as small steps forward and so we are, overall, in favor of a ‘yes’ vote,” Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said on Thursday.

But “no” supporters argued that the concept of “lasting relationship” is undefined and confusing and that women and mothers are being “stripped” from the constitution.

Ultra-conservative voices have argued that the changes could constitutionally protect polygamous relationships and increase immigration through migrant family reunifications – claims the government has denied.

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