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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
French No camp takes fresh lead
No vote poster in Bayonne, south-west France
Both sides have stepped up campaigning as the vote looms
Three opinion polls in France show the No camp in front again ahead of the 29 May referendum on the EU constitution.

A TNS Sofres/Unilog poll showed the No camp on 53%, with Yes on 47%. Two other polls - by Ipsos and CSA - showed the No camp on 51%, with Yes on 49%.

Correspondents say opinion may have been influenced by Monday's strikes, held to defy a government decision to scrap a traditional bank holiday.

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is to urge a Yes vote on TV on Tuesday.

CHANGING FRENCH ATTITUDES
Graph showing French voting intentions
  • 4 March: Voting date named
  • 14 April: Chirac TV debate
  • 28 April: Socialist ex-PM Lionel Jospin backs Yes in TV interview
  • 3 May: Chirac TV address
  • 16 May: Campaigns start
  • 29 May: Referendum day
  • The official campaign on the referendum opened on Monday, two weeks before the vote.

    The polls of about 1,000 people were conducted at the weekend.

    The TNS Sofres/Unilog poll, commissioned by the daily Le Monde, indicated that most left-wing voters - 59% - were in the No camp, whereas a majority of right-wing voters - 61% - were in the Yes camp.

    According to the Ipsos poll, most people think the EU constitution could be renegotiated, with 62% saying they felt it could "certainly" or "probably" be redrafted.

    French anxieties

    Many French trade unions fear the constitution enshrines an "ultra-liberal" Anglo-Saxon style economic model rather than the French "social" model.

    The No camp also includes those who think the treaty threatens France's sovereignty.

    The constitution has to be ratified by all EU member states, but many of them are not holding referendums.

    The treaty is partly aimed at streamlining decision-making in the enlarged EU of 25 nations.

    Commenting on the latest polls, French government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope said: "We have to use all available means to explain to the French people the degree to which this opportunity is historic, and will not come round again soon."




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