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Adams risks little in his each-way euro bet

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No vote: as the only major party opposing the austerity package, Adams  and Sinn Fein are politically in a good position

No vote: as the only major party opposing the austerity package, Adams and Sinn Fein are politically in a good position

Niall Carson

No vote: as the only major party opposing the austerity package, Adams and Sinn Fein are politically in a good position

The most obvious thing about today's referendum in the Republic is that Sinn Fein has made a good call in urging a No vote.

Let's leave aside the economics and look at the pure politics. As the only major party which is opposed to the treaty, Sinn Fein has a massive opportunity to raise its profile.

The vote won't be a walkover, though most polls are predicting that the referendum will be passed.

Even the Yes campaigners predict years of austerity. Then Sinn Fein can say 'I told you so'.

In fact, it will be the only major party able to say this, because it is the only one which backed the No campaign.

If, on the other hand, the arrangement is rejected, then Sinn Fein will have won. Then it can accuse the governing parties of squandering the opportunities it gave them should things go wrong.

Strategically, that is a strong position, close to an each-way bet, to occupy in the midst of an economic crisis. It won't hurt in next year's European elections, either.

Economically, the referendum may not be as important as is being made out. The only countries to have fully ratified it so far are Greece, Portugal and Slovenia.

They have signed up to a regime in which they must reduce their debts in order to get access to bailout funds and, if they overrun, they will be subject to fines from the European Court.

That is like fining a bankrupt for buying groceries and everyone knows it risks provoking political chaos.

It is there to reassure German voters who are providing the bailout funds; it affords Angela Merkel some political comfort, but Germany needs European stability.

Behind the scenes, negotiations are still in play and Germany hasn't reached its final position. In real terms, keeping the euro in play is massively to Germany's advantage and sustains the exports which are the engine of its economy.

If Germany had the deutschmark back, it would be very strong against sterling, the dollar and most other European countries. That would mean German goods could not be exported.

A tariff-free Europe to export to and, within limits, a weak currency compared to sterling and the dollar, provides the optimum environment for German growth.

Funds flowing to German banks from countries on the European periphery, like Ireland, might arguably be even sweeter, but that is not the decisive consideration.

Anyway, it isn't in Germany's interest for countries like Ireland to be destabilised. So, whatever way the referendum goes, expect more wheeling and dealing.

Mrs Merkel is already talking about allowing a little inflation into the system to increase the money supply.

To do anything, she needs Francois Hollande of France on board and he is calling for stimulus to alleviate austerity.

We all remember the predictions of doom when David Cameron refused to ratify the treaty. The fuss didn't last and he wasn't pushed into the outer darkness.

The stakes are too high for fits of pique. Whatever happens in today's vote, the negotiations and accommodations will still go on.

We haven't reached the bottom line yet. The politics still have to play out.