Libération (article in French): “Chirac played deaf”.
NY Times Chirac “struggled to make the 850-plus-page constitution and its annexes relevant to his audience”. “There was an error in the casting,” said a critic.
France2 newscast: The audience was made up of bo carefully-selected 18-30 yr-olds, not one of which was a politician with different point(s) of view, and it definitely wasn’t a debate. The reporter said: “Not all went as planned”. Chirac was “irritated” . . . “23-yr-old made Chirac uncomfortable” . . . “the message didn’t get across”. One of his critics said, “The President seemed like a European by necessity”, while Nicholas Sarkozy remarked that if people are “turning away from their leaders, it’s because they don’t believe what they see on TV”.
Erik of ¡No Pasarán!: “what the president really fears should the French electorate reject the Constitution: a “boomerang” effect of insignificance (however temporary), along with the attendant “black sheep” status, that Chirac would much prefer be reserved for countries such as Britain or Poland.” EU Referendum points out that the Netherlands will vote on the EU constitution on 1 June, even if the French reject it three days earlier. Jacques is on the hot seat either way, and his TV show didn’t help things.
Commented Ben Gun gave The Bad Hair Blog a comprehensive review in yesterday’s comments:
What a charade the staged teen-meet was – Chirac trying to cloak himself in the old pope’s aura > be not afraid.
– Chirac bullying and blustering > I’m older than you.
– Chirac avoiding the problem questions > he may talk about Chinese textiles (what has *that* to do with the EU ‘constitution’?) but the young ‘uns may not talk on the environment, employment … it’s off-topic of the ‘constitution’.
Oh and if there is a no result, it doesn’t matter, the EU will go on regardless – remember Denmark and Maastrict, Ireland and Nice? So why bother with the referendum?
And it is not a plebicite > unlike de Gaulle, Chirac will not resign if the referendum goes against him. But then he cannot, or the juges d’instruction will be after him. Chirac’s only hope is to stay in power until he dies, or else hoodwink enough pols into giving him an immediate pardon/continued immunity.
The France2 newscast showed Chirac actually saying that France must vote Yes because 24 countries will vote Yes and if France doesn’t it’ll lose credibility.
Back when I was a teen, it never worked when I told my parents they should let me do something “because everybody else is doing it”. It doesn’t sound like the teens in the audience bought that argument, either.