DUBLIN (Reuters) – The people of Ireland are set to liberalize some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws by a landslide, two exit polls from a referendum showed on Friday, as voters demanded change in what two decades ago was one of Europe’s most socially conservative countries.
An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll suggested that voters in the once deeply Catholic nation had backed change by 68 percent to 32 percent. An RTE/Behaviour & Attitudes survey put the margin at 69 percent to 31 percent.
If confirmed, the outcome will be the latest milestone on a path of change for a country which only legalized divorce by a razor thin majority in 1995 before becoming the first in the world to adopt gay marriage by popular vote three years ago.
“It’s looking like we will make history tomorrow,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who was in favour of change, said on Twitter.
Vote-counting begins at 0800 GMT on Saturday, with the first indication of results expected mid-morning.