Save 'no' vote for Chirac elections, says Jospin

25th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 24 (AFP) - France's former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on Tuesday urged a "yes" vote in this weekend's referendum on the EU constitution, telling television viewers that rejection would leave France isolated and its European partners bewildered.

PARIS, May 24 (AFP) - France's former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on Tuesday urged a "yes" vote in this weekend's referendum on the EU constitution, telling television viewers that rejection would leave France isolated and its European partners bewildered.  

Instead he urged left-wingers tempted by a "no" vote to focus their attention on defeating President Jacques Chirac's ruling party at the next elections in 2007.  

In his second televised intervention in the campaign, Jospin said that the varied list of political leaders backing the "no" - including far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, Communist and Trotskyite party chiefs and the dissident Socialist Laurent Fabius - showed they had no coherent alternative to offer.  

"All these 'no's are incompatible and absolutely unrealistic ... What are we going to do with them - put them in a cocktail shaker, mix them up, then ask the president to present this shaker to our astonished European partners?" he told TF1's main evening news programme.  

"I think such an attitude will not just isolate France but leave us incomprehensible to the other Europeans," he said.  

Instead the former leader - who was defeated by Chirac in the 2002 elections and has since officially left politics - said voters should vote "yes" on May 29, and afterwards look to improving European politics in a more social direction.  

"I suggest that the French should first vote for the treaty so that Europe is not weakened and France not isolated, and then concentrate on the essential - trusting France and its allies to use all their influence to shift European politics.  

"Obviously if we have an anti-liberal majority in France after 2007, it will be easier to do this. So I say we should not get worked up about the 'no', but instead fight on ... with the 'yes'.  

"It is in the interest of France and Europe - and it is a much more positive perspective for all workers - not to get fixated on a purely technical debate on the constitutional treaty, and direct ourselves instead to the big issues of European policies ... That is the real challenge," he said.  

A respected figure on the left of French politics, Jospin is seen as the Socialist party's major hope for winning over undecided voters. His last intervention two weeks ago was followed by a brief surge in the "yes" camp.  

Polls all show the "no" camp winning Sunday's referendum, with a majority of between 51 and 54 percent.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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