Irish pose next democratic test for EU austerity

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DUBLIN (AP) — When voters in Greece and France got the chance, they dealt a resounding "No!" to parties backing austerity measures. The Irish could be next to give the European Union's austerity plan a black eye.

A May 31 referendum here asks the public to approve an EU treaty that aims to control nations' deficits and longer-term debts. Critics, however, say the treaty ignores the competing need to stimulate growth.

Ireland is the only EU member putting the agreement to a national vote.

Analysts say an Irish rejection of the treaty, combined with Francois Hollande's victory as France's president and a hard-left turn in Greece's parliamentary elections, could force the continent to shift in favor of less cutting and greater investment in growth.

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