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NewsletterApril 2005

Oui ou Non (Yes or No)

A national referendum is scheduled May 29th to decide if France will ratify the new European Constitution. At this time the 'Non' vote seems to be winning. But almost half of those asked had not made up their minds yet. Even voters responding "yes" or "no" seemed open to changing their vote between now and May 29th.

The vote is going to very close. The "no" camp believes the purposed Constitution is to 'liberal' i.e. market friendly or offers little to workers or people in the lower classes. The "Yes" camp says "not true" workers rights, including the right to strike and unionize are guaranteed.

So far the turning point is the Bolkestein Directive, which would have allowed some service providers, i.e. accountants, to practice under the labor law of their country of origin. The "No" camp jumped on this to illustrate the 'New Europe' represented the by Constitution is in fact nothing more than a front for globalization and its race to the bottom. The "Yes" camp fought back saying the Bolkestein Directive wasn't law yet and would be changed. After a request by the French Government, the European Union (EU) started the process of amending the Bolkestein Directive to remove the "country of origin" article.

Until the Bolkestein Directive story hit the news the "yes" vote was winning, now the dynamics are changed and the "No" camp seems to have the upper hand.

Furthermore, the French normally vote for or against a person or party. This fact is working against the "Yes" camp. The present government's Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, is unpopular.

The other factor working against the "yes" camp is the social unrest France is experiencing. Strikes and demonstrations are occurring almost weekly. The "Yes" camp is trying to get people to focus on the future and not on the present. Some are saying that a "No" votes jeopardize the EU and what's been built over the last 50 years.

The last aspect working against the "yes" camp is the proposed Constitution is very long and technical, meaning few people have read the document. Probably most people won't before the election. Most voters will cast votes based on politics of the moment, not the written document.

The purposed Constitution would supersede all previous treaties related to the EU. Including the streamlining of how decisions are made. Until now the EU has worked on the principle of consensus of all members. But with the addition of 10 new members a few years ago, this past practice is too cumbersome. The new Constitution, the "Yes" camp believes, solves this problem by changing the way decisions are made. Should the Constitution be ratified the unanimous agreement clause would be deleted.

To see a "Non" political poster click here.

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