French Voters Say ‘Non’ to EU Constitution
As expected, French voters rejected the EU Constitution today, with nearly 60% in opposition.
French voters dealt a crushing defeat to the European constitution today, demonstrating their determination to punish the leaders of France and of Europe after a bitter campaign that split the country in two. As the polls closed, the French Interior Ministry said the no camp had 57.26 percent, compared to 42.74 for yes, with nearly 83 percent of the votes counted.
The result was a shock for President Jacques Chirac and a large part of the political establishment that had campaigned for a yes vote as necessary for strengthening European unity. It also created a challenge for the European Union, which has staked its future on the constitution.
Mr. Chirac addressed the nation 30 minutes after the result was announced. “My dear compatriots,” Mr. Chirac said, “France has spoken democratically. A majority of you have rejected the constitution. This is your sovereign decision.” But he added, “France’s decision inevitably creates a difficult context for defending our interests in Europe.” He indicated he would reshuffle his government in the next few days.
French voters rejected the European Union’s first constitution Sunday, a stinging repudiation of President Jacques Chirac’s leadership and the ambitious, decades-long effort to further unite the continent.
Chirac, who urged voters to approve the charter, announced the result in a brief, televised address. He said the process of ratifying the treaty would continue in other EU countries. “It is your sovereign decision, and I take note,” Chirac said. “Make no mistake, France’s decision inevitably creates a difficult context for the defense of our interests in Europe.”
With 92 percent of votes counted, the treaty was rejected by 56.14 percent of voters, the Interior Ministry said. It was supported by 43.86 percent.
Treaty opponents chanting “We won!” gathered at Paris’ Place de la Bastille, a symbol of rebellion where angry crowds in 1789 stormed the Bastille prison and sparked the French Revolution. Cars blared their horns and “no” campaigners thrust their arms into the air.
French voters have rejected the European Union’s proposed constitution in Sunday’s referendum, President Jacques Chirac has said.
The vote could deal a fatal blow to the constitution, which needs to be ratified by all 25 members states.
“Europe” may be a reality one day but not anytime soon, it seems. Even the French won’t surrender their sovereignty this easily.