7th Jul 2020

German intellectuals in French vote appeal

  • Jacques Chirac issuing another warning about rejecting the Constitution (Photo: European Commission)

German intellectuals have joined forces in speaking out in favour of the European Constitution ahead of France's vote on the document in just over three weeks time.

Jürgen Habermas, Günter Grass and Wolf Biermann were among a group of intellectuals appealing for a yes vote in a letter printed in today's Le Monde.

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The joint letter appeals to French voters not to reject the Constitution saying it would be "folly" if the French would let the EU charter suffer for their anger against the French government.

"A no would be to surrender reason and a betrayal by France, that great country of the Enlightenment, of its own ideals".

The letter goes on to say that "the consequences of a rejection would be a catastrophe for unification" brought about by an "era of peace".

"We owe it to the millions of victims of our wars and our dictatorships", continues the letter.

This is not the first instance of Germany involving itself in France's constitutional track. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder also arranged for the German parliament to vote on the EU text on 12 and 27 May.

It is hoped the expected German approval of the EU Constitution will influence the French.

The letter was published the day after French President Jacques Chirac also issued a strong warning about the consequences of a no vote on 29 May.

"If we do not adopt the constitution, one of the first consequences naturally is not only that we remain in the past - a past that has been fairly criticized - but we would also be considerably weakened", he said on French TV on Tuesday evening (3 May).

He also said there was no chance of the text being renegotiated if it is rejected.

Both the letter and Mr Chirac's TV address are just the latest in a series of strong appeals to French voters about the predicted political consequences of a rejection by France, a founding member of the EU.

Two weeks ago, former European Commission chief Romano Prodi said a no could result in the "fall of Europe".

The precarious state of France's polls has also prompted the Commission to take a small quiet back seat until after the vote, for fear of upsetting voters with an unpopular proposal from Brussels.

After 23 polls put the no camp in front, there appears to be a reversal of fortunes for the yes camp with some polls now putting it in front or at least reporting a narrowing of the gap between the two sides.

However, Le Figaro notes today that several deputies in President Chirac's UMP party are concerned that the yes side may have started its comeback too soon and may peak before 29 May.

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