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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Second Time Around, Danes Back Maastricht

COPENHAGEN - Danish electors have voted to accept the European Community's Maastricht treaty in a referendum Tuesday, according to a computer forecast by Danish television.

If confirmed, the result would reverse the outcome of a referendum last June in which Danes rejected the treaty on political, economic and monetary union by 50. 7-49. 3 percent. A similar television forecast was accurate in last year's vote.

The forecast, which was made 30 minutes after polling stations closed, showed that Danes voted "yes" to Maastricht by 57. 1 to 42. 9 percent.

The estimate confirmed the trend in a Gallup institute exit poll broadcast 40 minutes earlier which gave a 57-43 percent victory to the "yes" camp.

The previous rejection by Denmark threw the Community into a period of crisis and soul-searching.

Another "no" vote would have scuppered the treaty, which must legally be ratified by all 12 member states.

The treaty, agreed in the Dutch town of Maastricht in December 1991, calls for movement toward monetary union and a common foreign policy for the Community.

But, in a bid to win over voters worried about rule by Brussels bureaucrats, Danish leaders last December negotiated a series of opt-outs on provisions for a single European currency, joint defense policy, supranational police and common citizenship.

The deal, backed by seven out of eight parties in the Danish parliament, appeared to have swayed enough people to overturn the narrow "no" majority in last year's referendum. A switch of only some 25, 000 votes was required.

A Danish "yes" this time will make it easier for British Prime Minister John Major to force ratification of the treaty through a reluctant parliament in the autumn. Britain had said it would give up on Maastricht if the Danes voted against.

Germany, which awaits a court ruling on whether Maastricht accords with its Constitution, is the only other country not to have ratified the treaty so far.

Opinion polls throughout the campaign had predicted a solid "yes" majority, with a final Gallup poll published early on Tuesday showing 58 percent in favor and 42 percent against.

The 3. 9 million-strong electorate voted Tuesday in unusually warm and sunny spring weather, which some pundits said favored a "yes" result.

Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen said as he cast his ballot in a Copenhagen secondary school: "I hope for the sake of Denmark's future that the vote will be a dear 'yes'".

Voters were required to mark a cross on a ballot paper printed only with the words "yes" and "no". More details of the referendum were printed separately on a notice in each polling booth.

Many voters appeared convinced the "yes" camp would triumph, after a campaign in which 45 out of 46 national newspapers backed the treaty. "I'm voting 'no' but I'm sure the outcome will be a 'yes'", said Copenhagen student Jane Adelsgaard. "Many of my friends have changed their minds in recent days".

Treaty opponents said Maastricht would create an undemocratic, armed European superstate dominated by Germany and France. They said Denmark's 5. 1 million people would lose sovereignty to Brussels.

Rasmussen said approval for Maastricht would help economic growth and curb high unemployment of 12 percent. A rejection would create instability, drive up interest rates and put pressure on the Danish crown, he said.

Many Danes had feared that if they rejected Maastricht, other states would quickly cobble together a new union pact.