Resistance to 'yes' vote on EU mounts in France

6th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 6 (AFP) - Less than three months before a referendum on whether to adopt the EU constitution, 42 percent of French voters are preparing to vote 'no', and their number is rising, a survey published Sunday said.

PARIS, March 6 (AFP) - Less than three months before a referendum on whether to adopt the EU constitution, 42 percent of French voters are preparing to vote 'no', and their number is rising, a survey published Sunday said.

According to the Ifop poll published in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, the 'yes' camp would carry the plebiscite - called for May 29 by President Jacques Chirac last Friday - if it were held today.

But support is slipping, down three points since the last monthly Ifop survey on the issue, and opposition is climbing.

Currently, 42 percent of the 882 registered voters consulted say they would vote against the EU charter, which aims to streamline decision-making among the bloc's 25 member states and forge a united foreign policy. That is up three points since the last poll.

No margin of error was given, but such polls frequently have to be considered with a leeway of plus or minus three percentage points.

The survey's results were similar to other polls recently undertaken. Observers say the public resistance to the EU constitution - upon which Chirac has staked his personal prestige - stems from increasing anger at government economic and labour reforms, especially attempts to undermine the popular 35 workweek.

Anti-government sentiment is running especially high right now, days before a nationwide strike set for Thursday which threatens to paralyse France.

Chirac's push for Turkey to be given future EU membership has also raised hackles in the country, which has Europe's largest Muslim population.

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has called the constitution "historic" and warned a 'no' vote in France - one of the European Union's founding members - could torpedo its adoption.

A meeting of France's ruling UMP party on Sunday approved a motion in which 90.8 percent of the members present committed the party to using "all its energy... so that the French say 'yes' to the European Union".

Theoretically, all 25 EU member states have to ratify the charter for it to come into effect.

Spain, on February 20, became the first to move to adopt the constitution through a referendum.

Another 10 states, including France, are to call their voters out to decide the matter. The Netherlands will hold its plebiscite on June 1 and Denmark will put the constitution before voters on September 27.

Others, such as Britain and Ireland, have yet to fix a date.

The other 15 EU members states, including Germany, have opted to ratify the text through their parliaments.

Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia have already done so.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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