Content Section

The Content section will provide news, quotes and background materials refering to the topic of the EU Constitution. The time-table will give you an overview about the current status concerning the referendums on the Constitution.

 

France has resoundingly rejected the proposed European Union constitution.


The result of the referendum was a massive 56 per cent for the "no", against 44 per cent for the "yes", according to Dominique de Villepin, the Interior Minister. An unusually high turnout of 70 per cent of the 42 million voters had briefly raised hopes that the great legion of "undecided" might still tip the outcome to the "yes".

President Jacques Chirac, in a brief address to the nation, said last night that the result would make it "difficult to defend French interests in Europe". He urged the country to unite behind him, "with one aim in mind the defence of French national interests". Immediately after the result, other politicians close to M. Chirac tried to present him as the only person now capable of "reuniting" France and representing the French people, as the EU tries to pick up the pieces.

Their and his comments possibly presage an attempt by M. Chirac to "change sides" and reposition himself as the spokesman for French anger towards the EU. The former socialist finance minister Dominique Strauss Kahn lashed out at "demagogues" in his own party who had played "disgracefully on the fears of the French people".

The former socialist treasurer Henri Emmanuelli a leading campaigner for the "no" vote said France had "reasserted the primacy of popular sovereignty over the plans of apparatchiks and cabals". He said the vote would lead to a new, "socialist Europe".

The referendum result, which last night brought calls for M. Chirac's resignation. Rejection of the constitution first suggested by M. Chirac and largely negotiated by a French ex-president will make M. Chirac, 72, the lamest of ducks in the final two years of his second term. There could even be a period of turbulent "street politics", with increased social demands by a triumphant hard and romantic left.

The unpopular centre-right Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, is likely to be fired by President Chirac today or tomorrow. His likely successor could be M. de Villepin a never-elected, classic scion of the French administrative elite.

As Europe reacted to the size of the "no" vote, M. Chirac's European ally, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, stressed that the referendum result did not mean the end of the Franco-German partnership. Like other EU leaders, he stressed that "the referendum result is a blow for the constitutional process, but not the end of it".

In Brussels, the European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, said: "All 25 member states must express their view. We can't just take those of one or two countries."


© Independent