The campaigning is almost over. The eyes of Europe are on Spain. On Sunday, voters there will make history – becoming the first to have their say in a referendum on the new EU Constitution. The result of the ballot does not seem in doubt. Both main political parties have thrown their weight behind the “yes” campaign and opinion polls predict a clear thumbs-up. On the streets of central Madrid, however, opinions were divided.
“We will be able to integrate ourselves fully into Europe and have something in common with all Europeans,” said one woman, preparing to vote in favour of the charter. But a “no” vote could be expected from a young man questioned by reporters. He believes the Constitution fails to defend the family, life and the Christian roots of Europe. Three EU countries have already ratified the treaty in their parliaments. But Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has staked his reputation on making Europhile Spaniards the first to give the Constitution the green light in a popular vote. His main obstacle however is voter apathy. Polls show that less than half the electorate could turn out to vote. The Council of Young People in Spain has come up with a novel idea to try to motivate the young. It has created an energy drink called “Referendum Plus” which has been distributed with a leaflet explaining the importance of voting and the significance of the Constitution itself.