Hostility to the European Union constitution is hardening in France, despite increasingly desperate attempts by government and opposition leaders to rescue the collapsing “yes” vote before the referendum next month.
An opinion poll published yesterday showed that 55 per cent of French voters who had reached a decision were likely to reject the proposed new EU treaty in the vote on 29 May.
Worryingly for the “yes” camp, the latest survey – the sixth in a row to predict a “no” vote – shows an erosion of support for the treaty on the centre-right and a hardening of attitudes on the left.
Even when bribes are thrown in…
Senior political figures admit privately it may be impossible to turn around the extraordinary momentum gained by the no vote over the past three weeks. Efforts by the centre-right government last week to bribe public sector workers with an inflation-linked pay rise have had no immediate impact. Neither have dire warnings from President Jacques Chirac and others that a no would plunge European and French domestic politics into deep crisis. He will make his first major contribution to the campaign in a live television debate on Thursday
The new treaty or Constitution is, basically, stupid. It frightens a lot of people by giving the transnational European Union a lot of vague powers (which worries Britain) and vague talk about free markets (which worries that French). In America we would sign the treaty and ignore it, but the Euros take things more seriously.
The important news: French intrasigence may save Tony Blair’s political career. Tony Blair has promised a vote on the new treaty, which is deepy unpopular in Britain. Losing a vote of that importance would seriously harm Blair’s credibility. Further, if the other countries vote yes, Britain may be asked to leave the European Union.
However, a French no vote gives everyone cover. Great news!