France’s socialist party will hold a key vote today in an internal referendum on whether or not to campaign for the European Union’s constitution.
Francois Hollande, leader of the socialists in France, insists that a “no” vote would be catastrophic for France and Europe. “With George Bush re-elected for another four years as US president, we cannot add to Europe’s problems,” he said. Leading the “no” campaign is former prime minister and now deputy leader of the socialists, Laurent Fabius. He wants the treaty redrafted and improved. “Are we moving towards a more socialist Europe, which is what we socialists want, or are we moving towards a liberal Europe?” he asked. European socialists fear that a “no” from the French left would increase the danger of a “no” from France as a whole. Spanish socialist and member of the European Parliament Miguel Angel Martinez said: “The constitution allows for great advances in a number of areas, less so in some, and no improvement elsewhere. But there are no barriers within it to future improvement.” A decision to back a “no” in the national referendum could scupper the EU constitution. Another socialist Euro MP, Italian Nicola Zingaretti said: “It would be a waste not to grab the opportunity afforded by the constitution to work at the heart of Europe and develop better social policies for each European.” Some within the French socialists fear the treaty is too Anglo-Saxon in nature and could mean fewer jobs in France as firms migrate to lower cost economies. The results of the socialist party’s referendum are expected at midnight. The French nation will vote on the constitution some time next year.