Daniela Schwarzer

The French Tug-of-War over the EU Constitution

Domestic Conflicts Jeopardize Ratification of the Treaty

SWP Comment 2004/C 39, December 2004, 7 Pages



France is one of ten countries whose population will decide whether to accept the new constitution of the European Union. The referendum on the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe has been announced for the second half of 2005. Recent opinion polls suggest that more French are in favor of the Treaty than are against it, but ratification is not a foregone conclusion. Around a quarter of voters are still undecided, and the constitution's critics have stepped up their campaign to persuade them to vote "no." Some of the critics are EU opponents from the right and left, who feel the new Treaty goes too far. For other politicians the Constitution Treaty does not go far enough - they demand that social integration be put higher on the agenda. Their canvassing for a "no" vote is motivated by domestic tactical considerations, and they have increasingly gained ground in the recent months of debate. Politicians of the Socialist Party (PS) play a special role here because the party is split on the constitution issue right up to the top leadership and will not take a position one way or the other until after an internal referendum at the beginning of December. This decision will decisively influence the French government's strategy and the result of the referendum.

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