With time running out for the “Yes” campaign ahead of Sunday’s referendum on the EU constitution, French President Jacques Chirac has made a final televised appeal to voters. It was a last-ditch bid by the head of state to secure approval for the charter. Thirteen successive opinion polls have put the “No” camp in the lead.
Rejection of the treaty would by seen by Europeans as a “no” to Europe, he said. “It would open up a period of division, doubt and uncertainty. It would be a mistake to believe that Europe would be better off with another project. There is no other project.”
He also urged the French not to use the ballot to cast judgement on his conservative government. Earlier, members of the European Parliament gathered outside City Hall in Paris to hammer home their call for a “Yes” vote.
But those on the other side of the argument are fighting an equally passionate campaign. People voting “No” won’t be doing so because they are anxious or scared, Marie-George Buffet of the Communist Party argued in a televised debate. She said they wanted “to build a different Europe, a Europe that stands for social progress and democracy.”
The “No” camp wants the charter renegotiated, saying it must take better account of social concerns. All 25 European Union member states must ratify the constitution for it to become law. EU officials say that if France votes “No” by a large margin, the treaty is probably doomed.