The most remarkable thing is that the low turnout seems to be confirmed, and it’s very significant: even if, say, 75% of people voted “yes”, it would be a 75% of a 40% turnout, meaning roughly that the European “Constitution” would be actively supported by only 30% of eligible voters. That’s extremely, extremely low, and against what Zapatero was hoping: an example of Europeanness to other countries that have planned a similar vote. If the most pro-European country -according to all polls- manages to get a 40% turnout only, what will happen, say, in the much more Euro-skeptic UK? I’m sure Zapatero will spin this result as a triumph (one of his party’s deputies has just said so), but actually it’s almost a death blow continent-wise.
Charles Moore explains Why the EU Constitution is bad for Britain and bad for the US:
If one had to point out only two aspects of the treaty to Mr Bush, I would first draw his attention to Article 1-16, which commits all member states to a “common foreign and security policy”. “Member states,” it goes on, “shall actively and unreservedly support the union’s common foreign and security policy in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity and shall comply with the union’s actions in this area.” That would seem, at a stroke, to prevent Britain (or any other member country) from acting unilaterally in military or political alliance with the United States ever again. In his interview with Alec Russell in today’s paper, the President expresses his objections to the EU as a means of projecting global power and supplanting Nato: that is exactly what the European Constitution is trying to bring about.
Second, I would draw attention to the opening words of the two documents. The US Constitution begins, famously, “We the People…”. The European Constitution begins, “His Majesty the King of the Belgians…”. That gives you a fair idea of the different spirit of each document.
So far there’s no referendum scheduled for the UK. Moore suggests,
Soon, probably next year, we shall be asked to vote on the constitution ourselves. The No campaign has been arguing for quite a long time that every household should be sent a copy of the European Constitution. The Government is proving rather evasive on the point, but what possible objection could there be, apart from the health-and-safety threat to our postmen’s spines?
It would weigh scarcely anything extra to throw in the US Constitution with each envelope, thus offering the most instructive possible comparison.
Richard of EU Referendum blog finds Chirac in a panic, and says
The erosion of support for the constitution does not seem to be the result of the population’s increased familiarity with the document or the issues. Rather, the question has become infected by other issues, ranging from Turkish membership of the EU to the unpopularity of prime minister Raffarin’s centre-right government.
However, there is a distortion in the campaign in that the “no” campaign has been in full swing for several weeks; the “yes” campaign has not begun. How this might be affecting polls had not been recorded.
The French Socialist Party’s leader went to Spain to campaign with the Spanish Socialist Party (Zapatero’s party) for a “SI” vote. My grandparents must have been turning in their graves, since they despised the French, as many Spaniards have since before Napoleonic times. That might account for the low turnout. All the same, as Moore quotes, “According to the Spanish justice minister: “You don’t have to read the treaty to know it’s a good thing.” Will the French big-poohbahs say the same in their “OUI” campaign?
IF France votes NON for the referendum, the EU Constitution would be dead in the water.
Or would it?