Chirac, far-right tug on EU treaty for May Day

2nd May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 1 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Sunday took advantage of a traditional May Day appearance to make the case for the European constitution, saying closer economic union would "be beneficial to all".

PARIS, May 1 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Sunday took advantage of a traditional May Day appearance to make the case for the European constitution, saying closer economic union would "be beneficial to all".  

Each May Day, the French president receives merchants from the Rungis market outside Paris, who offer him the country's finest agricultural products including lily-of-the-valley, a traditional May Day gift of good luck.  

But with less than a month to go before France goes to the polls on the European Union's first ever constitution in a May 29 referendum, Chirac is now using every opportunity possible to urge sceptical voters to say 'yes'.  

"Those who fear an invasion of low-cost products are quickly contradicted by the advantages linked to an growing flow of exports, and that's the reality in Europe," Chirac said.  

"The last 10 years have shown just that: a process of rapprochement of economies and people that is beneficial to all."  

After a string of opinion polls showing a majority of French voters were against the treaty, a survey released Saturday indicated for the first time that voters could say 'yes' on May 29, with 52 percent backing the EU treaty.  

Far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, one of the champions of the 'no' camp, led thousands of his supporters in a traditional May Day rally, denouncing what he called the "totalitarian propaganda" of a "suicidal yes vote".  

"Those in the yes camp, so sure of themselves and overbearing, have always presented to us as fact the virtues of Brussels-run Europe, which was going to bring us prosperity, social progress and full employment," Le Pen said.  

"Today, they are trying hard to pull out a suicidal yes with a deluge of totalitarian propaganda," the leader of the National Front (FN) added.  

Police said some 3,200 FN supporters marched with Le Pen, while the FN put turnout at 20,000. Nick Griffin, head of the far-right British National Party, participated in the rally.  

Demonstrators held French flags and banners reading "Turkey + Constitution; no, I'll keep France" and "Chirac, Turkey, treason".  

The 'no' camp has been fuelled by French fears of Turkey's possible entry into the European Union, but Chirac has repeatedly tried to convince sceptics that the two issues are separate and should not be confused.

© AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article