Report: The Children's Referendum 2012

11 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2014

See all articles by Claire McGing

Claire McGing

National University of Ireland, Maynooth (Maynooth University)

Date Written: March 12, 2014


On Saturday, 10 November 2012, the Irish electorate voted to accept a proposed amendment to the Constitution of Ireland which would strengthen the constitutional rights of children. The 31st Amendment was passed by a margin of 16 per cent, with 58 per cent of voters in favour and 42 per cent against. The result was much closer than expected. It was hoped that holding the referendum on a Saturday would boost electoral participation, particularly among young people, but turnout on the day proved disappointingly low at 33.5 per cent. This report provides a detailed overview of the 2012 Children’s Referendum campaign and result. It begins by summarising the context behind the referendum and then outlines the key issues, events and players of the campaign. After mapping the national result, the paper draws on market research to understand the various factors grounding voter choice and turnout intentions. The report concludes with an explanation as to the current legal standing of the amendment following a petition to the High Court to have the result annulled.

Keywords: referendums; voter turnout; electoral studies; opinion polls; Irish politics

Suggested Citation

McGing, Claire, Report: The Children's Referendum 2012 (March 12, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Claire McGing (Contact Author)

National University of Ireland, Maynooth (Maynooth University) ( email )

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Iontas Building
Maynooth, County Kildare W23 F2H6

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