18th Sep 2019

Constitution debate intensifies in France

  • French Socialists grapple with the EU Constitution (Photo: EUobserver)

A new poll of internet users has shown that French people appear to be almost evenly split on whether they are convinced by the arguments for or against the Constitution.

45 percent said they were convinced by the arguments for voting "yes" and 41 percent for the "no" arguments.

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But almost half of French people (49 percent) believe that the Constitution should be ratified even if it is not perfect.

The poll, which was open to all internet users and is therefore not scientific, comes as the debate within the Socialist Party hots up before a crucial internal referendum on the Constitution.

This referendum - to be held on 1 December - will decide the party's position on the text and leaders of the "yes" and "no" camps are intensifying efforts to win party members over to their side.

The "yes" side - led by party leader Francois Hollande - argues that saying "non" to the Constitution would destabilise Europe and also the socialist party itself, allowing the centre-right to triumph in the next Presidential elections.

The "no" side is headed by deputy leader Laurent Fabius and claims that the text can and should be improved and must be rejected in its current form.

Leading members of both sides have recently published short essays in a bid to garner support.

But the Socialist split in France does not appear to be mirrored in the wider European Socialist party, as Socialist MEPs voted unanimously in support of the Constitution on Wednesday (10 November). Some Fabius supporters abstained or absented themselves during the vote.

Information campaign

This week, the French government launched an information campaign aimed at raising awareness of the Constitution.

The campaign will cost 10 million euro and has already been heavily criticised by some "no" supporters as they claim it uses public money to push the arguments of the "yes" side.

But it remains unclear when the referendum will be held.

Speculation has been rife that French President Jacques Chirac will call an early referendum - possibly in May next year, but no official date has been set.

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