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French say “absolutement non” to EU constitution

Posted by Richard on May 30, 2005

This is the first time I’ve cheered something the French have done in a long while. It wasn’t even close:

PARIS — French voters rejected the European Union’s first constitution Sunday, early government results showed — a stinging repudiation of the ambitious, decades-long effort to further unite the continent.

With about 83 percent of the votes counted, the referendum was rejected by 57.26 percent of voters, the Interior Ministry said. The treaty was supported by 42.74 percent, the ministry said.

Of course, most French voters probably voted no for the wrong reasons — resistance to giving up more of their protectionism, fear of competing with the much freer, lower-tax, lower-wage nations of the "new Europe." But anything that derails the bureaucratic monstrosity in Brussels is a good thing.

UPDATE: Predictably, the movers and shakers in Brussels are insisting that the French "non" doesn’t really mean no, that the French really support "more Europe," that the result is unclear and doesn’t kill the EU constitution:

The European constitution will not be renegotiated and is not dead after a French ‘non’, the EU presidency insisted on Sunday night.

In the aftermath of the May 29 French referendum constitution defeat the EU presidency, European Commission and Parliament have united to demand the show go on.

Luxembourg Prime Minister and current holder of the EU presidency Jean-Claude Juncker demanded that constitutional ratifications continue – ahead of an expected Dutch ‘nee’ on June 1.

What’s with this odd use of the term "presidency" instead of "president" when speaking of the actions and utterances of the specific individual holding the office?

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso also played down the strength of the French rejection.

“The messages are contradictory, some are saying they vote because they want more Europe, some are saying because they want less Europe. So it is very difficult to draw a conclusion,” he said.

Leader of the European Parliament’s largest centre-right political bloc, Hans-Gert Poettering urged EU leaders to keep the constitution on track at a June 16 Brussels summit.

“In the end European heads of state and government will have to evaluate the overall result of the ratification process and will have to examine all possibilities on whether and in which way the constitution, or at least important parts of it, can still become legal reality,” he said.

Leader of the parliament’s Socialists Martin Schulz insisted that “the battle goes on”. 

“We respect the outcome of this democratic vote – a vote that can be interpreted as a vote against what Europe is like at the moment or against Jacques Chirac on domestic grounds.” 

Former Danish PM and European Socialist leader Poul Nyrup Rasmussen highlighted the domestic factor.

"We must not read the ‘non’ in France as a ‘non’ to Europe. This is not the last word on the European constitution.”

Apparently, the whole spectrum of political hacks in Brussels  — far left to left to "centre-right" — are agreed: French voters’ rejection of the EU constitution must not be allowed to prevent its adoption, even though every nation must ratify in order for it to be adopted. I guess they’re unclear about concepts like unanimous consent and democratic majority rule.

I’ve got an idea — maybe they can consult with Florida Democrats to see if it’s possible that France’s ballot was confusing, causing some voters to vote "non" when they really intended to vote for "more Europe." Or they could talk to Ohio Democrats,, and the inmates of DU about the possibility that France’s voting machines are secretly controlled by a cabal of programmers in Zurich to produce millions of excess "non" votes.

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