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Ireland voters reject plan to abolish Senate

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DUBLIN — Irish voters rejected a government plan to abolish the country’s much-criticized Senate, a surprise result Saturday that dealt a blow to Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

Kenny had personally campaigned for the proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate Ireland’s upper house of parliament, arguing the Senate was undemocratic, politically toothless, and expensive in an era of brutal budget cuts. All opinion polls during the monthlong campaign had pointed to easy passage.

Instead, voters rejected Friday’s referendum question on abolishing the Senate with a 51.7 percent ‘‘no’’ vote. Turnout was just 39 percent, a typically weak figure for Irish referendums, when antigovernment voters often come out in droves.

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