Friday, May 27, 2005

EU: all over but the blaming.

EU: via the Guardian, Chirac may have pushed the no vote even higher after his speech tonight.

Jacques Chirac made a final attempt to reverse France's determination to reject the EU constitution last night, imploring voters "not to answer the wrong question" and insisting their choice was "about your future, your children's future, the future of France and of Europe". In a solemn address on television and radio, the president said it would be wrong to use Sunday's referendum to punish his government. He said it was his duty to warn of the consequences of a French non, and promised the treaty would make France stronger, guarantee its social advances and protect its public services. As two more polls put the no camp ahead yesterday, Mr Chirac said a no vote would be seen everywhere as "a no to Europe", opening a period of "divisions, doubts, uncertainties". It would be an illusion, to think Europe could pick up again with a new project - "there is no other project". ...Mr Chirac's appeal came, however, amid growing indications that he and most of his cabinet - including the deeply unpopular prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who is almost certain to be out of a job next week - had already resigned themselves to defeat. The president met journalists earlier and admitted it would now be "extremely difficult" to turn the tide. Nicolas Sarkozy, the leader of Mr Chirac's ruling UMP party, reportedly remarked: "The referendum? It'll be a small no ... or a big no." The post mortems are already under way in the Socialist party, which officially backs a yes vote but has been unable to persuade a majority of its voters to do likewise. Yesterday's two polls put French opposition at 54% and 55%. More than 80% of those questioned said their minds were now made up.

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