European press considers vote 'earthquake'

30th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 30 (AFP) - A kiss of death, an earthquake rattling the European continent, a cannonball in the bow: Europe's press on Monday reflected all the drama of the resounding French "no" to the European Union's constitution.

PARIS, May 30 (AFP) - A kiss of death, an earthquake rattling the European continent, a cannonball in the bow: Europe's press on Monday reflected all the drama of the resounding French "no" to the European Union's constitution.

Across the continent, the media mirrored the widespread concern that
Sunday's rejection would deal a severe - if not fatal - blow to the new treaty.

"The French 'no' has just triggered an earthquake at the scale of the
European continent: the constitution project is dead, at least in its current form," wrote Austria's left-wing daily Standard.

Greece's top-selling Ta Nea daily called it an "own-goal in united Europe" from the union's own architects, while Denmark's conservative daily Berlingke Tidende saw "Europe thrown in a historic crisis."

"The treaty will never see the light of day," an editorialist in Italy's left-leaning La Repubblica wrote, under the headline "The Union: Year Zero."

In an attempt to draw lessons from the vote, Norway's Aftenposten daily in an article headlined "A cannonball in the bow," urged Europe to slow down, particularly with its enlargement process.

"The enlargement towards the east ... gave western Europeans the feeling they were being turned over to an anonymous leviathan, a massive and obscure power that is growing without limit," Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote.

"The Polish plumber who blocked up France," ironized Warsaw daily Zycie
Warszawy, in reference to the argument of some no campaigners in France that the French job market would be flooded with cheaper east European labor if the constitution passed.

Countries seeking to join the EU worried for their candidacy.

"Bulgaria will suffer the negative consequences," wrote the country's right-wing Standart.

The French "no" was the first rejection of the constitution by a member of the 25-state bloc. Each member has to ratify the text either by parliamentary vote or by referendum for it to come into effect.

Russia's Izvestia daily said the result would hurt the Franco-German

"One of the deepest wounds was inflicted to the 'Franco-German motor,' which had propelled the European train forward for half a century," Isvestia wrote.

But the 54.9 percent "no" vote was first and foremost a blow for French President Jacques Chirac and the French political class, according to several European papers.

"Europe Groggy, Chirac on the Mat," headlined Belgium's Le Soir.

Spain's El Mundo said "if (Chirac) had any dignity he would resign" for having "shown he has neither the political capacity nor the will to jolt France out of its paralysis."

Dutch papers, fearing that the French rejection will boost the "no" camp in their non-binding referendum Wednesday, also saw the French result as more of a rejection of Chirac than of the actual constitution.

Even French papers saw the vote as the end of "Chiracism," as a regional newspaper wrote.

Liberation daily spoke of a "masochist masterpiece" and "a political class with its head in the sand, accustomed to lying over many years, notoriously incompetent and at the bidding of the president."

France as a whole would suffer from the decision, according to Poland's
Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

"France will be the loser because French politicians will henceforth have even greater difficulty in convincing others in Brussels to defend French interests," it said.

Some saw a growing divide between the continent's political elites and its people, with Switzerland's Le Temps calling the vote a "second French revolution."

The vote was "a direct hit at the European Union's democracy deficit,"
wrote Greece's Eleftherotypia.

"What happened in France demonstrates that there is a divorce between elites and the electorate that, if it is not taken into account, could lead all of Europe to implode," said Portugal's Publico daily.

"Truly respecting the French 'no' would be if the EU member states found a new way to involve the citizens, the politicians and the parties in this great European political adventure," said Denmark's left-leaning Politiken.

Treaty rejectionists and euroskeptics could not hide their pleasure at Sunday's result.Britain's anti-EU Daily Mail acclaimed the "French kiss of death to EU superstate."

"Vive la France! Vive la Republique! Vive la liberation!" the tabloid cheered in an uncharacteristic display of cross-channel affection.


Subject: French News

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