NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 2, 2005

The French vote Sunday on the European Union constitution is a truly historic event. The French populace handed President Jacques Chirac a humiliating defeat, voting "no" by 57 to 43 percent. The constitution now lies in tatters. It is unclear if even the current loose political union of the EU will survive. For sure, Washington need not fear a rival in Europe, says Allan Topol, a lawyer and author.

There are a number of factors which contributed to this result, explains Topol:

  • To begin with, there is widespread discontent with the government's social and economic policies.
  • Unemployment is at 10 percent, being pushed up by corporate relocations; even among those employed, spending power has been eroding.

The EU constitution was viewed as greatly exacerbating this situation:

  • o The long and cumbersome document, 498 articles after all the compromises were included, was deemed by the French people to threaten their health and other benefits.
  • o At the same time, under the constitution, bureaucrats in Brussels would be able to impose huge economic costs on the already sagging French economy in order to achieve uniformity among member states.

The economic fear had another component, says Topol:

  • o There is a deep-seated apprehension among many French of political integration with the culturally dissimilar people of Eastern Europe and perhaps Turkey.
  • o The worry is that "those people will overrun us," as hordes move westward in search of jobs and a better life.

Here is the ultimate irony. In addition to M. Chirac's poor performance in this election, recently German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder suffered a sharp defeat in German provincial elections. Thus two opponents of the war in Iraq were rebuked by their people while President Bush and Tony Blair were both re-elected, says Topol.

Source: Allan Topol, "No United States of Europe," Washington Times, June 2, 2005.


Browse more articles on International Issues