Chirac gives his TV all forthe EU 'daughter of 1789'

4th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 3 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac, buoyed by polls that show the 'yes' camp gaining ground ahead of the EU constitution referendum, on Tuesday appealed to sceptical left-leaning voters to support the text.

PARIS, May 3 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac, buoyed by polls that show the 'yes' camp gaining ground ahead of the EU constitution referendum, on Tuesday appealed to sceptical left-leaning voters to support the text.  

The constitution is "neither on the right nor the left", Chirac said in an interview with two journalists from state-owned France 2, his second live television appearance in defence of the treaty ahead of the May 29 referendum.  

He called the text the "daughter of 1989", the year the Berlin Wall fell, and "especially the daughter of 1789", referring to the French Revolution, because it embraces "all the values of France".  

"This constitution is essentially of French inspiration," Chirac said, adding that it was "the best possible constitution for France".  

The centre-right French leader said the treaty, aimed at simplifying decision-making in the expanded European Union, would mark "a decisive step toward a more socially conscious situation" in the bloc.  

"This constitution combines the demands of a large market with the demands of social harmonization," he said.  

"We are creating a united Europe of states and people, and not at all a United States of Europe."  

His arguments seemed specifically aimed at winning over left-wing voters, who remained the most unpersuaded about the merits of the constitution and were tempted to cast a protest vote against his government.  

Chirac appeared much more relaxed during the 50-minute interview at his Elysee palace than during his April 14 live televised appearance with a group of 80 young adults - a performance that media and political observers said was unconvincing.  

While he said he did not know if a 'no' vote on May 29 would represent a personal setback, the president said it would "certainly be a setback for France".  

He reiterated warnings that a 'no' vote would halt 50 years of European constitution and diminish France's influence abroad.  

Asked repeatedly whether he would reshuffle his government following the May 29 vote, whatever the outcome, he declined to comment, saying only: "We should not mix up domestic politics and the referendum."  

With less than a month to go before French voters cast their ballots on the landmark EU treaty, and with his political legacy on the line, Chirac was stepping up his campaign, using all opportunities to defend the constitution.  

From last week's maiden flight of the new Airbus A380 jet to a meeting in Paris of artists and intellectuals that wrapped up Tuesday, the French leader has not missed a chance to extol the virtues of European integration.  

The president's task on Tuesday was made a bit easier by the release of opinion polls indicating that the 'yes' camp could prevail on May 29.  

Three polls released since Saturday have indicated that a majority of French voters will approve the European constitution, after a string of surveys since mid-March had indicated a victory for the 'no' camp.  

All 25 EU member states must approve the constitutional treaty, either by popular referendum or parliamentary vote.  

If such a heavyweight EU member as France rejected the constitution, many observers believed the treaty would be stopped in its tracks.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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