It is a vote that Euro-enthusiasts hope will set a trend from Lisbon to Prague. France’s opposition Socialists have decided to back the draft European Constitution. The ballot result is a huge boost to those campaigning in favour of the text ahead of a national French referendum next year. France is one of the EU members states, along with Spain and Britain, which have already said they will ask the people to decide if the constitution should be passed or not.
The Socialist’s leader, Francois Hollande, argued for the draft, which he says is crucial for the smooth operation of an enlarged EU. His rival, Laurent Fabius, wanted a ‘No’ vote, saying the constitution does not do enough to protect workers rights. Leader of the European Socialists Martin Schultz welcomed the result: “It’s a victory for all of us, a victory for the French and a victory for European federalists”.
“I hope we can continue what we’ve done because the next referendum will happen soon, in Spain and in other countries. The whole thing is encouraging for Europe,” he added. The Constitution has to be passed by all EU member states to come into force. Most referenda are scheduled for 2006, while some countries, like Germany, have no provision for a ballot.