EU Constitution faces possible French rejection

The future of the European Union Constitution remains in doubt as more polls show a strong potential for a “no” vote in France on May 29. Despite efforts by President Jaques Chirac to encourage the passage of the document, polls showed that as many as 58 percent of French voters intend to reject it.

Supporters of the 325-page constitution say it will streamline decision-making processes in the 25-member bloc, which will soon add two more member states. The rejection of it by France, one of the strongest nations in the EU, would essentially leave it dead in the water.

The “Non!” movement has brought together a diverse group, ranging from the Communist Party of France (PCF) and other left-wing parties to ultra-rightist Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front, the latter motivated by extreme nationalism and xenophobia.

In a February appeal for a “no” vote, the PCF said a victory for the “no” vote would be a victory for the entire left. The Communists have said the constitution will facilitate the neoliberal, “free trade” and austerity schemes of big business, and its defeat is a top priority for the working class.

The Socialist Party, though, has come out in support of the constitution. In spite of this, recent polls showed that 62 percent of that party’s membership, breaking with their leaders, is now against the document.

A “no” vote in France is also expected to influence votes in other nations, such as Britain. In its election platform, the Communist Party of Britain states its opposition to the EU Constitution. The EU, it says, will aid corporations in growing even bigger. “That means mergers, takeovers, job losses,” the program says. “It means wages, conditions and pensions being driven down under the impact of sharper competition.”

A similar objection is being raised by the Irish Campaign against the EU Constitution. The group calls for democracy, sovereignty, peace, equality and human rights, all of which it says are hindered by the draft constitution. “We are being told that the proposed EU Constitution is the only way forward for the enlarged EU,” the group says in a statement. “A constitution should not contain detailed policies — thus preventing future generations remaking policy. But this constitution is a blueprint for a privatized, militarized, centralized and undemocratic Europe.”

All 25 nations must approve the document by popular referendum or parliamentary vote. So far, Italy, Spain, Greece, Slovenia, Lithuania and Hungary have approved the constitution by parliamentary vote. Spanish voters also approved it in a non-binding referendum held prior to their Parliament’s vote.