Raffarin rules out second referendum

25th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 24 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin on Tuesday said France would not hold a new referendum on the EU constitution at a later date if voters rejected the text.

PARIS, May 24 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin on Tuesday said France would not hold a new referendum on the EU constitution at a later date if voters rejected the text.  

"I do not believe that the idea of a new referendum is an idea that France can accept," Raffarin said on BBC television.  

"France will not say 'yes' one day and 'no' another.  

"There is only one word by France (...) France will express itself, it will express itself once. There is no second round, there is no second chance."  

Questioned on a new vote if the 'no' just about prevails in the referendum, Raffarin said there "is no 'small yes' or 'small no'; there is a 'yes' and a 'no'.  

"What counts is the victory of the 'yes' or the 'no'."  

Raffarin said there was no so-called Plan B in the case of a rejection of the constitution, but added that if the text was not ratified by French voters "there will be other texts but texts that will be long in the making; maybe in 10 years' time."  

He was confident however that a "no" vote in France would not stop the ratification process by referendum in other European Union countries.  

"It is reasonable to believe that all countries will choose their own destiny according to their national appreciation and will not let France decide in their place."  

Asked on whether supporters of a "yes" vote were putting pressure on voters, Raffarin said, "We don't want to intimidate French public opinion but create a counterweight to the Chinese, the other big continental forces".  

He predicted a political crisis and serious economic consequences if French voters reject the text but added that a "no" vote should not be seen as punishment for the government, nor should a "yes" vote be seen as a victory.  

However, "Europe will come to a standstill," Raffarin said.  

President Jacques Chirac will "decide in the coming months how to organize" the last two years of his five-year term, he said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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