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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 May, 2005, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
What will the French EU vote mean?
A man walks past campaign posters

French voters are going to the polls in a key referendum that may decide the fate of the new EU constitution.

Nine countries have so far ratified the constitution, which aims to streamline EU decision-making, but France is the first to put the issue to a binding referendum of its citizens.

If the result is "No", it will be the first time a large founder member has directly opposed the current process and could have implications for referendums in other EU countries.

How will the French result affect other referendums? Do you think the public is well informed about the content of the constitution? Send us your views on the EU constitution.

We discussed the French vote on the EU constitution and how the outcome will affect other European countries in our weekly phone-in programme, Talking Point. A video is available at the top of the page.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

The new EU Constitution is not designed to strike down individual nationality which the French have to realise. They cannot let such preferential ideology ruin something so unique and great. They have to also look beyond their personal opinions and think about the joining nations that need the European Union if they want to prosper.
Anon

The French people will disapprove the EU constitution partly because they did not fully absorb the idea of a united Europe which might jeopardize their identity but mostly because they are afraid of losing all social and welfare benefits provided by the French Government. I think a united Europe is a long way away. The extremely different positions of the European countries towards the war in Iraq is the finest and the most revealing example of the disunity of the EU!!!!
Dr Zaid Saffar, Basra-Iraq

I read some parts of the constitution yesterday and got stuck at paragraph I-44. It seems to justify a break-up of the union as soon as some member states don't agree with the rest. Which 'real' state or corporation would put such stuff in its founding documents? I won't be allowed to vote, but if I was, I would only accept a bug-free text in terms of solidarity.
Eberhard, Bochum, Germany

EU Constitutional changes are appreciable. Mainly the member nations like Slovenia, Slovakia and Lithuania will relish sharing equal rights with the other dominant nations. But a Parliamentary vote in all 25 EU nations to clear the treaty is unnecessary and will only drain economies especially if people are asked to vote again.
Shib SenChaudhury, Calcutta, India

Tony Blair might deny us the referendum
John Gallagher, London
I must admit that I would be disappointed if the French and Dutch vote "No" in this referendum. If this were to happen Tony Blair might deny us the referendum in the UK. He knows that the "No" vote over here would be overwhelming and it would become a resignation issue for him, so destroying his ambition of becoming 'El Presidente' of Europe.
John Gallagher, London

Something as important as a constitution shouldn't be almost 500 pages but a simple statement of ideals. It should be in the best interest of the citizens rather than the ruling elite. Every voter has the right to vote No or Yes according to any personal belief whether or not based on a misconception or misunderstanding. For me it will be a resounding "No!" mainly because of my total dissatisfaction with the way our EU leaders have run things as of late. There are too many issues at stake and we need plenty of discussion especially on a local level. Let's not forget how the Euro has made many of us unable to make ends meet.
Victor Dago, Amterdam, NL

I do not fear a French "non" because it is not necessarily what the count is, but more likely who counts the votes.
Balazs, Hungary

What will the French EU vote mean? A cunning time to steal their French sticks I suspect...
Tom Barker, Devon

What will it mean? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The EU has become an unaccountable dictatorship that is corrupt and totally out of touch with the citizens of Europe. The constitution will be imposed through the back door route as there is too much self-interest at stake to let a "No" vote affect the Eurocrats.
John C, Bath, UK

Do we seriously expect our governments to spoon feed us?
Nick Fraser, Jordan
I'm tired of people complaining that they aren't informed about the EU Constitution. It's all clearly set out in detail only a few clicks away on the internet. Do we seriously expect our governments to spoon feed us? Why aren't people honest enough to admit they simply can't be bothered to read and understand the document and will instead vote on their ingrained prejudices on what Europe does or does not represent. Depressingly, this leads to the disturbing conclusion that the referenda that have and will take place lack any credibility given the widespread public ignorance of what they are actually voting on.
Nick Fraser, Jordan

I might be naive but the mere fact of asking people to agree in whole to a document with over 485 pages, hundreds of articles and thousands of clauses by saying a massive YES of NO just seems ludicrous to me.
Guillaume Langellier, London, UK

A no vote will be a sharp and justified rebuke to Euro politicians who have allowed small, economically backward countries into the EU which will undermine jobs and living standards
John Widden, Aberdeen, Scotland

The French remember the referendum on the Maastricht treaty which promised to be a magic wand against unemployment and all other sorts of woes. They French (and many others, like the Germans) have seen the results : massive unemployment, outsourcing and daily closures of businesses and so on. Now with this infamous constitution the same jaded and in my view, corrupted politicians are once again promising heaven. So certainly the NO vote does contain a share of discontent against Chirac but not only that: there's also, first and foremost, a growing disillusionment with the EU and the obscure Brussels decision makers.
Alain Hernu, France

One nice thing about the Dutch referendum is that it has put politics back to where it should be: in the midst of public debate. It's lovely to hear people (in public transport, for instance) discussing politics instead of soccer, soaps or stocks. Whether the Dutch politicians are grateful for this is another matter... As for me, I'm going to vote "no". Whether a "no" vote by the majority is going to carry any weight, I don't know. Please note that this is not a binding referendum.
Martin van Dalen, Uithoorn, the Netherlands

Lucky French, at least you have the chance to say a wide open "no"
Monika, Germany
Lucky French, at least you have the chance to say a wide open "no". I actually pity my country as well as the people of Austria, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Slovenia and the Spanish as we are deprived of our right to vote! If that's what the EU calls. Constitution and democracy, then I also say ''no, thanks!
Monika, Germany

I do not know how well informed are the people in other countries about the EU constitution, but I must confess that the people in Greece are not informed at all and have no idea as the importance of it and the effect that it will have on Greece and its people! No reference is made in the media as if we are not EU citizens. In that respect, if a referendum had taken place in Greece, I would definitely vote a big "no" due to lack of information!
Anon, Athens, Greece

As a non-citizen resident of France, I do not have the right to vote Sunday (if I did, I would vote "oui"), but I predict that France will vote "non" for the following reasons: the basic French social/economic model is no longer sustainable, but rather than accept the responsibility, the French people blame "liberalism"; the French people and parts of the ruling elite are nostalgic for the time when France was a powerful player in world affairs, and voting "non" provides the illusion of power and sovereignty and finally the extreme right has raised the spectre of "an Islamic invasion" Although I hope that the "oui" rallies at the last minute, I fear that the "non" will indeed carry the day.
Bruce Epstein, Orsay, France

As a Brit working in the Netherlands I have first hand knowledge of the Dutch feelings about Europe. Most of the young people here will either vote no, or will abstain, and that is fairly typical I suggest even in France. The scare stories about the return to the bad old days of the two world wars do not affect today's generation. It is old hat. They are more concerned with national identity, the high contribution to the EU and enlargement which they see as a great danger to Dutch jobs. I'm not surprised they are voting no, and neither should be the mandarins at the EU.
Chris Tinker, Scarborough, UK

An answer to Chris Tinker, Scarborough, UK: Just to remind you that the only reason you are able to work in the Netherlands is European integration itself - something you take for granted now, but was not the case a few decades ago. A "Non" would be a step back in the process some of the Eurosceptics take for granted.
Nico, Brussels, Belgium

The French will, it appears, vote "No." By how large a margin remains to be seen. The Netherlands will likely follow the French lead and also vote "No." However, the sky won't fall in, and I believe the long-term effort to create an EU constitution will only be set back a few years. The next effort, one hopes, will learn from first effort's failure and do a better job of informing the public about the content and likely consequences of the next constitution. These things take time.
Howard Ducmann, Seattle, WA, USA

I am pro-European but against this constitution
Simon Wells, Brentwood England
I hope that the French vote No. I am pro-European but against this constitution. 1. It is incomprehensible. It should be simplified. 2. It can only be changed by unanimous vote. This latter point could lead to the break up of Europe in the future.
Simon Wells, Brentwood England

If the French vote no, it will be because they want something better than what is on offer. Good luck to them. The fact that over 100,000 English people have now made their homes in Provence is an endorsement of the French way of life. If we were wise (which we are not, because I believe Murdoch and Rothermere forbid it), we would learn something from this.
John Lawrence, Southampton, UK

Let's hope the "drivers" of the European Project start to actually listen to the people. There are lots of messages being sent, but the most important and universal ones is that people resent the unaccountable bureaucracy of Brussels and being rushed and bullied on an elitist vision of the European project.
James, Epsom, Surrey

I cannot believe anyone in their right mind can support a massive organisation like the EU, at a cost of 16% of its budget upping sticks once a month to move to Strasbourg, just because the French were going to throw their toys out of the pram if they didn't get a 'seat of government'. Imagine if the same happened in the UK - the whole of Westminster decamping to - say- Cardiff twelve times a year - the electorate would go barmy. The whole organisation is way past its "sell by date" - its time it was completely disbanded.
David, London, UK

The current economic situation on the continent is dire but this is no excuse for a No vote. After all, weren't things played in reverse in the early 90s? The EU constitution is a good way to consolidate the EU before it moves forward again.
Thierry, Manchester

The EU needs to get its' act together. Their accounting is a mess and the "books" have not been signed off because the do not balance....this has been so for many years. Until the EU can be seen to be a well run and reliable organisation, any further expansion/changes should be arrested immediately.
R Charlesworth, Scotland

I hope the French vote oui - they can keep their high unemployment
Darrel, Cardiff, UK
If you want to see what "balanced social models" do for economies take a look at France and Germany's high unemployment and taxes and lack of inward investment. Then look at the low taxation Eastern European economies and the UK and you tell me which one is working best? I hope the French vote oui - they can keep their high unemployment and the UK will keep attracting business.
Darrel, Cardiff, UK

They will simply get differently worded referendums until they do give the wanted answer. A NO vote will not be accepted as such.
Len E Burch, United Kingdom

Whether the French vote yes or no one thing has been made clear to me by the debate, the European people do not consider themselves as one state. I wonder how much further integration can proceed when people are more focused on their individual societies, traditions and benefits. It does seem that governments are proceeding too far along a line that their constituencies are not following, regardless of what the eventual benefits might be.
Steve Mac, Boston MA USA

A French "non" will be a victory for the average Frenchman. The majority of French are conservative and do not agree with the Parisian career politicians who hunger for more economic power against America to the exclusion of all other issues.
Natalie, Lyon, France

The EU constitution was jointly decided by the elected representatives (Presidents, Prime Ministers etc) of all EU states. Those representatives were democratically elected to decide what is best for their people. Therefore it seems reasonable to say that the majority of EU citizens believes in constitutional integration.
Ken, Nicosia, CY

We, in Greece, also sympathise with the issue, but unfortunately we are less likely to be asked to vote. This proves how 'democratic' many EU governments are and how they choose to reign! Personally, I am very disappointed in the whole EU thing and I wish my country as well as many others, could have the choice to leave this undemocratic union, ASAP!
Sotos, Athens, Greece

The French people need to see beyond perhaps losing all the social benefits they have gained
Dan Braun, Canada
I believe that if the French people vote no, that they will be disappointing all of Europe, and Europe will not benefit from a no vote. The French people need to see beyond perhaps losing all the social benefits they have gained.
Dan Braun, Canada

We moved from Wales to Canada two years ago, one of the main reasons was that I felt that the UK was getting too integrated within Europe. I hope that the French people vote no on the European constitution, their leaders are only interested in a united Europe, they are not interested in the ordinary people and their concerns. If they vote no it would mean the end of an United Europe.
Derrick Davies, Wales, Canada

The strong resistance expressed across Europe for this treaty only highlights the futility of trying to create a political union of different nations. The Euro is starting to highlight the tensions of economic union. Can't politicians understand that many Europeans want to retain their political and economic identities? The EU should seek to provide an open and free market for all. If it concentrated on doing that well, then Europe would be a far better place.
John, London

A yes vote in France would be another good reason to vote no in Holland. Historically we have little in common and the only cooperation of any significance of late has been the merger between KLM and Air France which was forced through by the politicians, the senior executives acting out of self-interest, the manipulation of the timing of critical events and announcements and creative accounting.
Paul van Wonderen, Bergen

The French have got it right and if they vote "non" they will send a clear message to all in the EU that a constitution must be based on more than a mere economic agenda.
John, Devon, UK

What I fear is that if France vote non, other European countries will criticize us, and use this against us for decades. After all, it has become a tradition in UK and new Europe to disregard France whatever we do, that's probably why nobody noticed the certain "no" vote in the Netherlands, because it's easier to criticize France. Even if France is one of the main founding members, French must be the most hated people in Europe. That's perhaps why so many want to vote "no" here. It seems that nobody in Europe shares our dreams of Europe. We somehow feel excluded from what has become the new EU, and I'm not sure if it's a good thing for us to continue the European Adventure. In the end, it's a very costly adventure.
Luc, France

The EU deserves to fail unless it informs its public honestly
Csaba Lengyel, Budapest, Hungary
There is a disastrous lack of clear information on the new EU constitution and in virtually every country in Europe the media and governments skate round the real issues. The public have a right to know how this will really effect them and their countries and the EU deserves to fail unless it informs its public honestly!
Csaba Lengyel, Budapest, Hungary

I have no vote in the European referendum because I live in a host country and only nationals can vote. I have lost my proxy vote in Britain because I am not resident. For thousands across Europe, including me, we have become disenfranchised at a critical time. I have no vote on 1st June in the Netherlands and yet I can vote to elect a Euro MP here.
Norma Taylor, Leiden Holland

I rarely say this, but bravo to the French, and double bravo if they actually vote "NO". So many EU countries are suffering because of the euro, etc, and the more this EU concept solidifies, the more each EU citizen suffers, financially, etc. The cowardly, corrupt governments that "passed" the EU constitution quietly in Parliament votes, without any awareness campaigns, are guilty of leading their people like sheep to slaughter. Where are the officials who were championing monetary union to explain to the poor why their pensions remained the same, but the "normalized" prices skyrocketed? Enough is enough, and it is time for the people to speak. France, don't be afraid to vote "NO".
John, Virginia, USA

I think the politicians have shot themselves in the foot. The 'non' camp, in France say the constitution is too English; too Anglo-Saxon. The English 'no' camp say it is not English enough...and never the twain shall meet. One thing both camps appear to agree on is 'enough is enough. The EU has gone as far as it ought to. Someone stop the gravy train, I want to get off.
Glen, Welling, UK

Maybe if the EU constitution began its preamble with "We, the people", and actually reflected the will of the Europeans instead of that of unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, it would have a better chance of success.
Ed Woods, Mons, Belgium (US)

I hope that the French vote "non", because some politicians are doing politics by ignoring their people! Who on earth asked us if we wanted 10 more countries at once in EU? Who asks us if we agree with even more expansion? And what kind of factors make them think that Europe will become stronger with more members and not weaker? No, it is time for a non!
Marcos, Athens, Greece

If the French have as much sense as their history indicates, they will give this constitution a massive vote of Non. It is about time that the EU had its come-uppance, it has moved from being a unification of nations to being a means to subjugate the peoples of Europe to in the interests of multinationals and global capitalism. Let the French liberate us from this yoke of oppression.
Mark Wilkins, Cardiff. Wales

When I watched the ceremony to welcome the new member states in Ireland last year, with all the handshakes and back-slapping amongst the politicians present, my overwhelming feeling was that all this was happening on another planet, totally removed from the reality of life amongst ordinary citizens.
David, London, UK

The French have always been the principal architects behind the laws and institutions of the EU. The recent enlargement of the EU has not been of their making and it undermines their ability to control EU matters. For this reason, they will probably vote 'Non'.
Ian, Baildon UK

I really hope that France will send a clear NO. This constitution is based on competitiveness, concurrence and social dumping, not on collaboration, fraternity and democratic control of institutions. The constitution issue just puts money before people. But I understand that the "French social model" where you live to enjoy time, and don't lose your life while earning it may sound odd to Anglo-Saxons. After all, an economy where the highest income comes from the stock exchange and not daily work and where 20% of the people are under the poverty level is perhaps your definition of a modern society. But it is not mine, and I'm convinced that next Sunday, France will lead the path toward an alternative.
Guillaume, Angers, France

The text of the European constitution has too many flaws and loopholes
Jorge Silva Marques, Brussels
This constitution has not been written by the people and for the people, but by a panel of politicians representing an array of economic interests, who weren't even elected for that purpose. Of course it contains a few phrases intended at creating in some people's minds the idea that it will defend their interests, but these only "work" if you haven't read the whole text or are totally ignorant of EU jargon and procedures. The fact is, that the politicians are asking people to vote yes through an "act of faith", and not by knowledge of what this constitution really means. The text of the European constitution has too many flaws and loopholes to be safe, and we don't have any reason to believe in our politicians' best intentions.
Jorge Silva Marques, Brussels

I don't get why France, Germany... should accept this Anglo-Saxon model when people in England don't even seem to want to join us in the first place. We should continue our way, if England likes it, they're more than welcome to join us but we should not accept whatever comes from 'across the English Channel'. It may be fine for you, not for us.
Arturo, Spanish living in Paris

The constitution is the fundamental set of laws on which all others a based. It should be simple, clear, and precise - setting out basic principles and values. The current European Constitution is none of these. People should vote "non" to that which they do not understand for something so important.
Roberto Rivas, Australia

The French realized in the fifties that they would never be a real superpower and that their culture and language was rapidly fading in influence. So they set out to create a European super state, with them, of course, calling all the shots. You can rest assured that, whatever form what should have remained the EEC eventually takes, it will benefit France most, and its 'partners' only to the extent that it must to keep it going. In other words, they simply want to use Europe as a 'supersuit', to be put on when it suits them and hung in the closet when it doesn't. The rest of Europe should hope and pray for 'non'
Steve Franklin, Columbus Ohio, USA

Well, that didn't take long. The EU President has just said the referenda should be re-run if the "no's" win until they get the "right" answer. So there's no real point in voting. The people of Europe have no real say at all. And people wonder why I left!
Jean-Paul, Madison, Wisconsin (French ex-pat)

I am disappointed that more time has not been spent explaining the constitution
Paul, Belgium
As a UK citizen I can say that I am disappointed that more time has not been spent explaining the constitution in a clear and understandable manner, our politicians seem to consider it all too complicated for us simple souls. Perhaps that is the real underlying issue here, we are inundated with politicians who care little for what we the people think or feel. It is not strong leadership that we need today, we need politicians who seek to include us and listen to us. Refusing to accept the constitution might just be our way of making a point.
Paul, Belgium

A French yes means the UK will have a vote. A French no means the UK will have to wait a few months while the French repeat the exercise until they get the answer 'right'.
Paul, Nottingham

Being Dutch, it disturbs me that only the French referendum is highlighted here. I, for one, can only say that I have no desire to be ruled by Germany, France or the UK in the future. The Dutch were great fore-players for the European Economic Community in the past, but I cannot imagine one Europe, regarding culture, languages and so on, not to mention the euro, which has made us poor.
Jake, Netherlands

A treaty between independent nations
Thomas Bauer, Amsterdam, NL
This "Constitution is in fact a treaty between independent nations, and not what is commonly called a Constitution. "Yes" to a united Europe, but with a European Parliament which has full control over the Executive, including the right to initiate and formulate the legislation (in contrast to article I-34). Also, Europe must have its own defence structure (just as it has its own structure for diplomacy) which is not subordinate to extra-European organisations such as the Nato (notwithstanding the possibility that Europe may be part of Nato). This "Constitution" consolidates a "free-trade-zone", but does too little to unite Europe. Since, as a German national, I do have the right to cast my vote, I hope that the French or Dutch or English voters will send the politicians back to negotiate something which deserves the name "Constitution".
Thomas Bauer, Amsterdam, NL

The French may be the first to vote "No" to the constitution but it is unlikely they will be alone. Are we really a nation of "Little Englanders"? I just can't believe the negative sentiments expressed by some on this matter. It is right that we should care what France and indeed, the rest of Europe think. Embracing Europe as our future does not negate our wonderful history - and who better to understand that than the French, our true contemporary!
Melissa, Guildford, Surrey

The information given about the EU policies or even anything from the EU is twisted to fit the wishes of the government. If you go to other EU countries and talk to the normal people most will agree that the EU has only cost them money and brought almost no benefits, the only people to benefit from the EU are the politicians
Caygill David, Southampton

The reason the French will vote no is globalisation
Karl, Germany
Reading some of the comments concerning the French who vote "non", or at least what people think these individuals are like, one would think the French were worse then any communist country. No, the reason the French will vote no is globalisation. That is what has ground almost every economy down in Europe. The French have just been savvy enough to see it. The power people naturally want a yes vote, making it easier for them to make more money amongst themselves in a Super State. Capitalism is simply exploitation, as has been demonstrated very clearly as of late with the grinding down of European economies due to job exports.
Karl, Germany

Some of the arguments the yes camp uses are mind-boggling. They suggest that if we vote no there will be economic crises or perhaps a repeat of the holocaust (yes that was actually suggested here in Holland, twice even). We do not need a constitutional treaty, the EU has gone far beyond what it was supposed to be. European unity cannot be mandated from above by politicians. And even if you would favour a constitutional treaty, then certainly not this Franco-German power-grab, because let's face it, that's what it is. The voting powers in the council of Europe give large nations with their larger population an easy task to block proposals.
Marcel, Netherlands

If the French, European Integration's greatest advocates, are not convinced by the EU constitution then it is a flawed document. Any treaty that generates such strong antipathy must be rejected. The US Constitution contains a simple message understood by people of any status. I have yet to hear any politician or commentator provide a coherent summary of the EU constitution.
John Kelly, South Queensferry, Scotland

OK so how many people in France want Tony Blair controlling their lives and how many people in Britain want Jacques Chirac controlling their lives? Somewhere approaching nil for both camps I suspect. As a trading bloc the EEC was a good thing, as a single political body the EU is just not going to convince the people of Europe they are a single body of people with a single set of values.
Michael, Penshurst, Kent

The EU will not react in any way because the opinion of its citizens has always been of minor importance. The French will be asked until they say 'oui'. And many other citizens will not be asked at all. This is democracy. Do you see any difference to dictatorship?
Johann Lang, Graz, Austria

A million-plus EU citizens resident in France, including hundreds of thousands of UK nationals - all of whom embody the founding EU principle of the free movement of people - are denied by the French government the chance of voting in the referendum. A million potential votes that the yes campaign badly needs. If the no wins, whose fault will it be?
Christopher Chantrey, Paris, France

I gather from the coverage that the major complaint of the Non camp is that this constitution imposes an Anglo-Saxon model on the economy? Well guys, look across the English Channel - it's a model that evidently works a lot better then your statistic model. If you want more evidence, look further west at Ireland. 3% unemployment is the best guarantee of worker's rights you can possible have, beats any government socialist mandates anytime.
Donal, Ireland

Demographically, culturally, linguistically, Britain has more in common with Canada, Australia, and the United States than it does with France or many of the other European nations. As far as history is concerned, for the most part, we've all inherited the same baggage. Perhaps the British are looking in the wrong direction for their future.
Chris Wheeler, Whitehorse, Canada

I personally do not get a single word of what this constitution means or implies
Sébastien Menecier, France
I am French, and I personally do not get a single word of what this constitution means or implies. It actually seems to have been written for this purpose
Sébastien Menecier, Limoges, France

A yes vote would means the French are committed to the hard work of engaging in international competition. A no vote means more socialism, laziness, and excuses to blame others for their misfortunes. With this choice ahead, who would expect the French to vote any other way but "non".
Edward Boltz, Chicago, USA

I am sure that the building of the European Union as an economic and political entity is a strategic step. I am sure that the French voters are aware of their leading role through the modern history to construct Europe. Based on these well known historical achievements they are going to vote yes. The European constitution is drafted taking in it accounts the numerous and diversified identities existing in Europe.
Moha, Tangier, Morocco

I have read most of the constitution and find that it can be interpreted in different ways, like your average legal text. This comes as no surprise, as it is a legal document, a "constitutional treaty" and not a "constitution". This treaty can easily be considered as a trampoline for jurisprudence and not as a box of constraints. I will therefore vote yes.
Alex, Toulouse, France

A no vote only makes sense. Europeans have hacked each other up since Europe began. There are deep cultural differences and a traditional xenophobia imbedded in European cultures. A piece of paper will not patch this up.
Mark Dufrene, US

Those who will vote "non" for a more social constitution must realize there is no plan B
Aris, US
For those who will vote "non" for a more "social" constitution, they must realize that there is no plan B. It will be very hard to come up with another compromise with 25 member states. For those who feel the EU is undemocratic, they must realize that with every treaty it has gotten progressively more democratic and that this constitution will be more so.
Aris, United States

Having lived in France for a year I realised that the rejectionists are, for the most part, very much in favour of a strong EU - but they want an EU to mimic the French model. Under the pretext of socialism this model has created a stagnant economy, high unemployment and high state intervention. A non will just confirm how deluded France has become.
Kevin, Dublin

I would bet my money on a tiny victory of the yes vote in France followed by a clear "nee" from the Dutch. I hope the text as it is now will be slightly changed to make it more flexible - to give each country more power to rule their own system. Most of the people are just afraid of the unknown and want some guarantee that their national legitimacy will be preserved. What's wrong with that?
Xavier, France

It is so complex I doubt 99.9% of the electorate are qualified to make a rational decision.
Jeffrey Lake, London
The Constitution is neither socialist federal Europe, nor a collection of nation states. It is so complex in fact that I doubt 99.9% of the electorate are qualified to make a rational decision.
Jeffrey Lake, London, UK

In a world with huge growing countries like China or India, with someone like Mr. Bush running the show, and with many demographic "bombs" all over, there is no other path but the one started once by the French people. The constitution is a short step...but a step.
Gustavo, Spain

The politicians saw this referendum as the people's rubber stamp. It turns out that the people are actually taking this very seriously and are engaged in the debate. Although one side will be sad with the verdict on the constitution, everyone should feel glad that the democratic process is still alive and kicking.
Robert Arisz, Amsterdam

The President of France Jacques Chirac is an astute politician. I suspect that in his heart, he is against the present version of the EU Constitution. He cannot publicly reveal his own opinion, so he has put the EU constitution to a referendum, because he knows beforehand that the French will vote no. In his secret heart he would like the proposed EU Constitution to be amended because it is much too free market oriented. Did he really do a tactical blunder by calling for a referendum on the EU Constitution? I believe he did not.
Jacques Lazier, Paris - France

I hope very much that the French will vote "yes". However, if they do vote "no", let's please not waste time having a referendum here and let's focus on a single Europe-wide debate to find a consensus on how to move Europe forwards. If we must have referenda, then it should be a single Europe-wide vote on the same day in every country to enable us to bring the issue closer to the people. That way we can address the massive ignorance of Europe's electorate on this issue.
Dean Gargano, London

The French will vote "Non" to the EU constitution simply because they have the opportunity to vote against EU bureaucracy, unlike the Germans whose decision was left to their parliament. Consequently, I reckon virtually all other EU member states will follow France's example and thereby leave the EU to ponder over "what next"
Keith Buck, Copenhagen, Denmark

It is clear that the interests of the politicians and those of the people are two different things
Walter Cools, UK (Belgium expat)
Organising a referendum is the only democratic way to get people heard. Consequently the outcome must be respected, especially by the 'losers'. Recent polls in the Netherlands, where the referendum is on June 1, also predict a NO. In my own country Belgium, where there is no referendum because, in my view, the government is afraid of the result, the majority would also vote NO. It is clear that the interests of the politicians and those of the people are two different things.
Walter Cools, UK (Belgium expat)

Politics, it has been said, is the continuation of war by other means. This is particularly true of the EU constitution: a grave threat to the sovereignty of all European nations, not just the UK. In my view, the EU is an undemocratic, unaccountable black hole into which we pour billions of pounds of our hard-earned and much needed GDP. If there are sufficient no votes, hopefully the long overdue demise of this corrupt edifice will at last be in sight.
David Jones, Peterborough, UK

I hope we vote Yes in the forthcoming election. I'm sick and tired of the Brits imposing their will and language on our country (France had was a founder member of the EU) whilst claiming billions of pounds in rebate. You Brits should worry more about your fishing and farming policies before worry about the way France will vote!
Claude, France

Claude's comments illustrate why the Constitution and the road to political union are failing. He and other French writers see this as imposing 'British' or 'Anglo-Saxon' norms onto their culture. This side of the Channel the complaint is that continental norms are being imposed on us as a result of the EU project. The rivalries between the cultures and peoples of Europe have been ignored and the straitjacket of the EU is now straining at the seams as a result.
Peter, Chelmsford, UK

A "No" to this lengthy document should mean that we have had enough of democratic deficiencies, bureaucracy and plain stupidity (lets not get into corruption of commissioners and some of the deputies) pouring on us from Brussels. I for one have some questions on my own: 1. have some of the yeah sayers actually read the whole document? I have growing doubts. 2.Why do you ask if you are so scared of an answer? I hope the French say no and the Dutch too. After all we do not get too many chances to have our say in things that matter so we can reject this waste of paper as long as they ask. At least some of us do - we in Germany are not worthy to be given this chance.
Hans Kloss, Weiden, Germany

The "NO" campaigns reasons for not endorsing the constitution are mind boggling - free trade, non government intervention - these are the reasons that they have such high unemployment. It just goes to show how alien these people are from the British. I hope they vote NO so that the constitution can be redrafted or the picture of Europe can be redrawn. I say yes to a free trade Europe and we should leave it there. We are different and that's a simple fact of life.
W Dickson, London, UK

If the French vote is a "Yes" (and I hope it is not) watch out for what happens when immediately afterwards, French wine, for the first time in France's history, is taxed.
Raymond F Breakspear, Kent, UK

Anyone who would base this vote on fear of American interference should really lower the caffeine intake and ask a realistic question like: "is this constitution beneficial or not?" Bush has his hand in a lot of cookie jars but you cannot reduce every political debate to resisting America.
Philip, Ottawa, Canada

It was difficult to find good coverage of the treaty when it was being drafted by the Convention. Now it has been drafted, and a rejection would cause problems, the need to discuss it has suddenly been discovered. In Ireland we have a specific example of that with one political party - Sinn Fein - who made no contribution to the drafting process but now complain that the treaty is flawed.
CF Kelly, Dublin, Ireland

A European constitution is better than taking on the US constitution as the 51st State
Scott Cheadle, Zurich
Personally, I would vote yes. Yes a European constitution is better than taking on the US constitution as the 51st State of America, which the likes of the Tories and UKIP seem to want. A no for Europe means a yes for America and GW Bush. If you want to be governed by America, vote no.
Scott Cheadle, Zurich (Expat Brit)

It doesn't mean anything. This constitution is not revolutionary: this text is just enhances a process began a long time ago. People have just the reality of a situation before them. They are afraid of free market, delocalisation to the eastern countries and so on. Maybe they are realizing that this EU project, which France would be the leader of, isn't worth changing the nation's economic system and mentality for.
Romain, Paris

I will vote yes in the referendum. As a part of my study of international relations, I had to read the constitution and although at some points I disagree, on the whole I think it will give the EU a firm base. However, I would like to see an end to the British rebate and I hope this constitution will regulate the EU coffers.
Kim, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Playing to popular fears wins over common sense every time
Barry, Paris
Following the debate here in France, I've noticed that there's one difference between the politicians supporting the constitution and those against. Those supporting it base their arguments on what is written in it; those against it on anything but (namely protest against the government of Raffarin, entry of Turkey into the EU and so on). It just shows how playing to popular fears wins over common sense every time.
Barry, Paris, France

I couldn't disagree more with Barry in Paris. I attended a debate on the constitution in my town this weekend. The "no" camp clearly had the text at their fingertips, quoting article after article to highlight the flaws in the treaty. The "yes" camp's best argument was that a yes vote would mean more cheap flights. I remained unconvinced, to say the least.
Susie P, Conflans, France

The Dutch government was arrogant and lazy assuming the Dutch would just vote 'yes'. Now that a 'no' vote is imminent they suddenly awaken and run a ludicrous 'yes' campaign. A Dutch 'no' is a big 'yes'-go-and-do-your-homework to all the arrogant politicians.
Mauro, Amsterdam, Netherlands

I doubt even a Non will stop Chirac as interpreting it as a Oui. Politicians, as we in the UK all know, are not good at listening when the answer isn't what they want to hear. A French non will only invoke a delay - it won't stop the EU gravy-train.
Colin, Portsmouth

Whatever the French vote, it will still be a small step towards the birth of a European nation.
John, UK

Pro EU? Yes. Pro Constitution? Yes, but not this one.
Emily S, Manchester, UK

Better to be part of a European superstate than to fall again into squabbles between nation states
GF Muresu, Birmingham
Better to be part of a European superstate than to fall again into squabbles between nation states, nationalism and war. The French are voting "non" because the constitution is not European enough. The British will vote "no" out of a culture of xenophobia that makes my stomach turn.
GF Muresu, Birmingham

I find the arguments given by France and Germany against the EU based on Turkey's entrance a complete joke. If you were poor and Turkish would you go to France or Germany? Nope, you'd catch the next boat, train, plane or car to London. And frankly immigration is one of the reasons why the UK's economy is streets ahead of countries on the continent.
Mark, London

I agree with Mark from London. No man from Warsaw to Madras to Shanghai would settle in France or Germany if he had the choice to live in the UK, USA or Australia. The economy of France and Germany is sluggish, because their benefit system is too large. They need immigrants to pay taxes, yet are too scared. Immigration made the US the world's superpower, and now it is making the UK the most powerful European country, and a country that is respected throughout the world. Sadly this can't be said of France and Germany.
Tom P, Manchester, UK

The result is largely irrelevant. If the French say no now, they will simply be asked to vote again later, until, eventually, worn down by relentless publicity, they will vote yes in the end. Then on with the plan, next country to vote etc. The EU want a federated state. They will not stop until they have got one.
Alison, UK

The EU constitution is an undemocratic disaster. No other constitution on earth manages so much waffle, so many deliberately smudged boundaries. I hope the French give us the excuse for a revolutionary re-write.
Michael Grazebrook, London, UK

Until they start putting IQ tests on the front of the ballot paper these referendums are a waste of time anyway.
Jennifer, Netherlands, ex-UK
The comments by the UK writers very clearly describe the situation. I agree, the EU is most powerful as a trading block. But trying to make a constitution to regulate things like a country's money supply will only work if each country becomes a "state". That's how a federal republic works. To become a federal republic, like the US, the member states would have to surrender some sovereignty. But do you guys really want Brussels making decisions for you? To me the clear answer is NON!
Jeff Aula, Detroit, MI, USA

I truly hope it is a No vote and is the start of the collapse of the so called common market. The most expensive folly in our time.
Maurice French, Guildford , Surrey

Until they start putting IQ tests on the front of the ballot paper these referendums are a waste of time anyway. A poll taken on Friday last week here in Holland showed that some Dutch people were planning to vote No in the referendum simply because our Eurovision entry did not get through the semi-finals!
Jennifer, Netherlands, ex-UK

I'm hoping for a landslide non vote. This would be a clear message to the EU that Turkey is not wanted in the community. I feel that France is the only country capable of doing this. Our government would just let Turkey in without question to pacify the US.
James, UK

It will no difference how any country votes - the EU will simply ignore it and carry on manipulating things to get what it wants.
Les, Morpeth, England

In Germany it seems no Politician is allowed to be against a NO Vote . If you ask the ordinary German most people hate the Euro, want a NO vote because since the start of the Euro, cheap labour has been flooding in to Germany destroying many jobs, everything is more expensive and the ordinary Germany feels betrayed Please say NO!
James Marrs, Bielefeld, Germany

Anything that stops the cancerous spread of this overbearing bureaucracy has to be good for all of us in the end. Let's hope the French vote marks the start. We have to be competitive in Europe. We have to persuade this turkey to vote for Christmas.
Ben Booker, Midhurst, England

Britain and France are the only two countries where the population is kicking up a fuss about this constitution. The British claim that it will create a "leftie" socialist superstate ruled from Brussels. The French claim the contrary - an "Anglo-Saxon" style free-market economy comparable with the United States. It would appear that neither have read the document.
Darryl LeCount, Paderborn, Germany

With luck, the French electorate will do the people of Europe a great service and vote "No". I'm fed up with this idea that anybody who contemplates a negative vote is somehow anti-European. What we signed up for is not what we've got. The EU has become an unaccountable gravy-train. How ironic it would be if those who have benefited most from this corrupt organization should be the ones (for whatever reasons) to put the brakes on! Vive Les Francais!
Malcolm, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

It doesn't matter what the French vote. The Dutch are clearly, overwhelmingly against the EU constitution and will vote no. It will fail no matter what the French decide.
Phillip, USA

I am a 16-year-old student and therefore cannot vote in the anticipated referendum. France is so significant because it is a founding member. The UK does not hold the same authority, which is why, whatever the French result may be, the UK result will be almost irrelevant anyway.
Leanne, Burton, England

The French are not stupid: they will vote 'yes' to preserve their influence in the EU
Nick, Southampton, UK
Talk of the EU constitution is like worrying about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The major economies including Germany and France are headed over the falls with no apparent alternative course in sight. When the end comes, whether it is later this year, or three years from now, the very same people who are preoccupied with this useless document will stare out into space in amazement wondering why it happened. The EU has become an irrational creation and those in it trapped in a reality entirely of their own making.
Mark, USA

I hope the French vote no, but everyone else votes yes. Then we can kick them of the EU, saving billions for the remaining countries currently spent propping-up French agriculture.
Mark Blackman, London

Who cares what the French vote? The UK will be voting no, we have no wish to further accelerate our economic downturn by tying our fortunes to the rest of Europe.
Chris, UK

With luck a No vote will mean the end for this 511 page piece of bureaucratic meddling.
G, Orpington, Kent

The fear amongst the French with regards to being railroaded into accepting Turkey into the EU is was the final straw for them.
Roger, Whitwick, England
If the French vote no, it will mean another referendum will be held a few years later, then another and another until it becomes a Yes vote.
T Newman, Bournemouth UK

The main question is why do millions of people let a few politicians and unelected egotists even contemplate such an ill-founded plan as the E.U. We in Great Britain voted only for an economic trading bloc not a federal state. I hope the French vote no and kill the issue once and for all.
Tony M, Portsmouth, UK

The EU Constitution only arouses passion in politicians. It is completely detached from the average EU citizen. The US constitution is concise and clear. The EU constitution, like every other EU legal document is too complicated and thus detached from the people. It is time the EU worked for the people rather than the heads of state.
Tom Skinner, Brighton, UK

Perhaps the government is not able to present persuasive reasons to the electorate to vote 'Oui' .I'm sure they would if they could .
John Joyce, Southampton, US

I shall be happy if the French vote 'non' for the EU constitution. It is about time that their leaders stop dreaming about leading Europe. They have never been able to do it.
Jai Singh, Kaiseraugst, Switzerland

I was in Paris over the weekend - I don't know why the Pollsters are calling this one as "close". Everyone I spoke to was against it & will be voting non. The main reason - a reason that has not explored on this forum in any detail, is the Turkey question. The fear amongst the French with regards to being railroaded into accepting Turkey into the EU is was the final straw for them.
Roger, Whitwick, England

It could be great news if the French vote no because then they may pull out altogether and we can get rid of the CAP and begin to run the EU as a co-op of nation states not a collection of social workers.
Tony, East Sussex. UK.

I thought it was only the pig-headed British who didn't comprehend the wondrous benefits of the marvellous EU.
Michael Brown, Homerton

According to today's press there are contingency plans to carry on anyway in the event of a French no, with them being invited to "try again" later. Additionally many of the policies have been put through in advance of ratification. Tells you everything you need to know about EU grass roots democracy n'est-ce pas?
Roger, UK

Whatever happens in France, it's going to affect us in the UK. If a Yes vote is cast then Blair & Co will go into overdrive to have us vote Yes to the constitution. If a No vote is cast then the whole thing will be void because for the constitution to become law, ALL member states must vote Yes. Once void, everyone will have to start all over again at the negotiation table to find a better treaty. If that happens, the UK may very well loose out on any/all political clout it might otherwise hold.
Aaron David Hall, Worcester, UK

Since the French arrogantly think that they are the epitome of what it is to be 'European' and because France has historically held sway in the EU, they will vote for the Constitution. The French are not stupid: they will vote 'yes' to preserve their influence in the EU. However, it would be nice for them to vote 'no' then it would give somebody else an opportunity to drive the EU forward.
Nick, Southampton, UK

I am hoping they vote "non". I do not agree with the European Union and do not ever see 25 different countries, with their respective cultures, languages and viewpoints happily and easily meshing together. Although I now live in Sweden who seem pro Europe, apart from the Euro thankfully, I still love England and wish it to remain as it is, not a small governed island by some faceless bearcat in Brussels. Disband the whole thing and start again.
Dee, Sweden

When Ireland voted no, they were asked to vote again until they got the "right" answer. Why should it be any different here?
Martin, England, UK

As an international law professor at Creighton University, I can assure you that a no vote will not destroy the E.U. Although it will keep the Constitution in abeyance until all members eventually approve it; the E.U. will continue to operate under the legal regime established for it in the treaties - which would remain in effect. Thus, nothing will have changed legally if the Constitution fails. Whether something will have changed politically is another question altogether.
Michael J. Kelly, Omaha, Nebraska USA

I will vote NON, because it is my duty to do everything to counter the tidal wave of Europe's constant enlargement which is resulting in France's increased poverty, increased loss of sovereignty and increased loss of her own identity. I do not believe in the utopian grand vision of a single European voice, but in a Europe of independent sovereign nations which should cooperate on certain issues but agree to differ on others.
Anne, Cambridge, England

If the French vote NO, other countries will feel more confident in voting NO themselves. It would make my day to see the French throw out this ridiculous constitution - it would be a massive blow to the EU's bloated pride and arrogance. Then perhaps Britain could talk about leaving.
A. Howlett, Manchester, England

If the French vote No, you can be sure that arrangements will be made for a second ballot where the public will be given another chance to provide the correct answer. Although a French No vote would be amusing, it would only indicate disapproval of the existing government, not a change of heart regarding the EU as such. I hope that the French vote YES so that we in the UK have the opportunity to make clear our rejection of the EU as a socialist, big government organisation and of it's corruption, waste and complete lack of democratic legitimacy.
Alan, Alton, England

I live in the UK and it seems I am much more informed about the constitution than the majority of the French people. Clearly, I am interested in it but they are not (cf Constance from France). However, I could not arrange my vote because the consulate makes it difficult for ex-pats. I am in favour of the 'Yes' and if France vote 'No', it is a step back but not the end of the world.
David, Bradford, UK

The major issue is what holds Europe together? What do people in Eastern Europe have in common with those in Western Europe. Some countries have benefited greatly from subsidies, however is that the main benefit. There are so many different languages and culture and trying to bring them together without a clear sense of purpose seems doomed to failure. I suspect the French will vote no and that will be the end of it.
Chris Parker, Bucks

Even if France votes no, England should also be allowed to have a referendum. Poliliticians have become detached from their electorate in this matter and it is about time the electorate let the politicians know that a fair proportion of Europe simply wants a trading agreement without all the social/2 tier government baggage.
Christian Tiburtius, Reading UK

Personally I feel that the implications of either a Yes or a No vote, have not been very adequately explained to the average man in the street. I also notice that there are huge Non signs everywhere you look, but very few Oui signs. I also am not sure where or when voting takes place, so the event seems to have handled in a rather low-key manner considering its importance.
Susan, Biarritz, France

The French will not reject the constitution. They realize that if that happens, their influence will be crippled in Europe, and the French are not willing to let that happen. It will be pretty close, but certain that the French people will vote "oui".
Traiano, Calperi, Rome, Italy

I have read the treaty and there are major problems with it. This is due to too many parties having to be appeased. We have heard already from France that it is too "Anglo-Saxon". We must remind ourselves that the EU is a coalition of different cultures. In France, for example, the idea of lowering taxes is political suicide - the culture there is definitely better that everyone has less but is equal. In Anglo-Saxon lands the opposite can be true. Although Eurosceptic - I am against the EU in its current form. The idea of a president and a foreign minister is very appealing but we must get the treaty right from the start - keep it simple, restrict it to areas where we all agree and then I am sure we will all vote OUI
Andy Bugden, Den Haag, Netherlands

I will vote NON. Non to Islamism, Non to Turkey.
Michel, Lyon, France

If the French vote NO then the constitution will be in tatters. There would be no need for a referendum in this country. The main reason for Tony Blair wanting this vote and subsequently for us to say Yes is so he can become President of Europe or another very high paid similar job. He will leave office within 4 years and is merely looking for another high powered job.
Steve Dowdeswell, Atherton, England

We should look deeper than general unhappiness with the present government
Joe Ryan, Chartres, France
If the French referendum is on a knife-edge after their 50 years of participation in the European Community (in all its various formats) then we really should look deeper than general unhappiness with the present government. People have no real idea what "Europe" is all about (or each person has his own idea) and nobody, apart from a few intellectuals, is going to wade through pages and pages of Eurospeak to find out.
Joe Ryan, Chartres, France

A free internal market can only be a good thing, but the layers of European bureaucracy and interference can only be a bad thing. I don't want my country's future tied inexorably to that of any other nation. The trade argument is also absurd - we want to do business with the USA and the Far East but nobody is suggesting becoming politically absorbed into Japan or America and nobody is suggesting adopting the Yen or the Dollar as our currency. By all means tear down barriers to trade but let us keep our own ways of doing things and let's not pretend we can come together as a single nation speaking 25 different languages. As they say in France, vive la difference!
John B

I will vote "Oui" and I really hope that the "Oui" win. It's the first time in history some people from different countries, with different languages, ideas...want to live together in peace. The EU constitution is a great project for European people, but also like a light to follow for others countries over the world.
Chris, Toulouse

Perhaps if the politicians presented the French public with a couple of good reasons tototo vote Oui, they may consider voting Oui. As it is, the popolitical elite seem to believe that the electorate are naive enough not to realise this and will blindly do what they are told. Present a decent argument for the constitution and you might win t the v vote.
Owen, Folkestone, UK

The problem here in France is that we have not been well-informed about the Constitution
Constance May, France
The problem here in France is that we have not been well-informed about the Constitution, and now they want us to vote "yes" saying that you can't be for Europe and vote "no". I am for Europe but I will vote no. If you vote no it just means that you disagree with the text - not the community. Maybe our vote will affect the other referenda. But, if people are well-informed, there is no reason for them to change their mind because of the French position.
Constance May, France

Yes or no is not nearly as important as the fact France is holding a referendum. Give the French and the other countries holding referendums a pat on the back. I can't believe other countries are letting their respective governments make such an important decision for them.
Ron Blackburn, Houston, Texas

Most governments in Europe ignore the wishes of the people. It is good that at least the French have a real democracy. Most Germans I know hope the French will say no. The German people did not want the Euro, they are sick of paying for the rest of Europe and they certainly did not want the expansion to the east. The French will do Europe a great favour if they have the courage to say no, non or nein.
Kenneth Ingle, Bielefeld, Germany

Hopefully, it will mean the beginning of the end for the idea of Europe as a nation
Brian, Kansas City, USA
Hopefully, it will mean the beginning of the end for the idea of Europe as a nation. The thought of the UK being ruled from Brussels makes my stomach turn.
Brian, Kansas City, USA

The French will vote yes to the constitution. They are far more politically savvy than we are in the UK, and less likely to have their opinions formed by tabloid headlines. The French are a barometer of what political ideals are across Europe, as we have seen before, and they are not afraid to voice their dissatisfaction and dissent. I'll be watching on 29th may with interest though, as the French also know how to punish through democracy very well indeed.
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, UK

Who cares what the French think? I live in Great Britain, not France. In any case, whatever happens will have no bearing on us, as the majority of this country will vote no. Good job too.
Peter, Spalding, England

I have a feeling that if the French vote "non" then they will either be asked to vote again or else the goalposts will be moved - so that it is no longer necessary for all individual countries to vote in favour.
Brian W, Chelmsford, UK

A French no will kill the constitution stone dead. Good! We joined the European Economic Community not a European Union. Nobody has asked the UK electorate whether they want anything more than an economic free trade area.
D Clark, Odiham

I believe that both the French and the Dutch will be vote no. Sadly, however, it will be for all the wrong reasons. Both no votes will be a "no" to t the government, rather than the text of the treaty. The sadness is that the public doesn't seem to understand this. As a result they are going to put the EU in a very difficult situation. I am in favour of the EU constitution as it makes the running of the EU practical.
Angelo Micallef, Malta




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