"Non" to the EU
According to this piece in the Financial Time (May 22nd, 2005), the "non" vote for the EU referendum in France is currently 52 percent. That leave the "Oui" camp 48 percent, four point behind. However it is still much better than it was a month ago, when the gap was a whopping eight points. But I fear that it is not good enough and the likelihood that the EU constitution will pass in France is low.
Even if it is passed by a point or two, there are still sizable minority who oppose it. And unlike a Presidential or Parliarmentary Election, the constitution is permanent, leaving much bitterness and resentment for years to come. The blame is mostly go to the French Government who did little to prepare their citizens for the new future with Europe. They have fail to convince their citizens of benefit of being a part of the EU. Maastricht Treaty was passed in France by 51 percent in 1993. Twelve years later, and attitude toward European Union has not changed, if not worsen.
Despite all its claim of progressiveness, France society is reactionary in nature. In 2002 election, the total votes for reactionary parties (Left and Right) equal 30 percents of the vote on the first round. Most noticably is the Facist National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen which won 17 percents of the vote. 17 percents of French are racists, the other 13 percents are rabid Communists. What's a progresive country!
There is a counter-argument that the votes for Le Pen are protest votes. A very close friend who is a Francophile -shock- make the same argument. She is a French citizen who works for the UN - more shock! She, like many of apologists explain the votes for Le Pen as protest votes against the Socialists and Chirac. It make no sense to me - none whatsoever. Here is why. Among 16 political parties, the voters had plenty of choice to cast their protest vote, But 17 percent of them pick a known racist. They cannot claim ignorance either. Le Pen is not closeted racist like Pat Buchanan, he was/is an opened and proud racist and his facist agenda was well publicized. The voters must had known his ideology when they casted their votes. Furthermore, Le Pen won even more votes on the second round, gaining one additional point. [Needless to say, my friend voted Socialist the 1st round and Chirac the 2nd round. She was unhappy that she had to make the choice between a Le Pen and Chirac.]
I understand protest vote. I did it last years. I am a traditional Republican voters. But last year, I was in Iraq. I supported the war and still do. But I was unhappy at the dismal performance of our leadership when it come to fighting the post-war insurgency - particularly the lack of preprareness by the Pentagon. My unhappiness was compounded with the rising violence, the lack of armor vehicles, and Bremmer received the Medal of Freedom. But I did not vote for the Aryan Nation. In protest, I voted for a movie actress (of the adult variety).
I would like to see the EU to form, even with France in it. It is an incredible symbol of peace and prosperity. Sixty years ago, most of the members were at war - the most destructive in European history. The scence of them forming a political union carries immeasureable significance for the future of mankind. It gives us hope that peace is possible, even in place like the Middle East. Now that the hope for a unified Europe is in the hand of France; I have good reason to be desponded.
OTHER BLOGS ON THIS SUBJECT
Daniel Drezner: One week left to say "Oui"