President Jacques Chirac is promoting the new European Constitution he signed with the other leaders last October starting with France’s youth.
A live television debate has been organised with a handpicked audience of 18-to-25-year-olds. Ahead of a May 29 referendum on the charter, this is Chirac’s first on-stage effort in a campaign that has seen the ‘No’ vote establish a solid lead in France. Polling expert Jerome Jaffre says one of the Chirac’s difficulties will be to win over voters who are to the left of his politics. Rejection of the treaty would be a huge personal embarrassment for the centre-right 72-year-old. The last 14 opinion polls have shown a majority of French wanting to reject the constitution; the latest one said 55 percent. Those campaigning against it argue it threatens France’s cherished social model. Pollsters say voter discontent over the economy, unemployment and the prospect of Turkey later becoming an EU member make it a real possibility that France will reject the treaty.