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European Constitution Defeated

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As of 1am GMT with most of the votes counted and a 70% turnout, French TV5 shows the European Constitution defeated by 55% to 45%. The BBC confirms this result from partial returns and exit polling. The ‘no’ vote was actually higher than anything predicted in the series of polls prior to the referendum, though they all showed the Constitution being defeated.

Voters were eager to be heard and turned out in large numbers and early. Opposition to the Constitution was fiercest among the moderate and extreme political left – socialists and communists – and also on the extreme nationalist right. Moderates and right-leaning moderates supported the Constitution. Their opposition was based on the general belief that the Constitution would move the EU away from its traditions and towards a more capitalistic model promoted by the British, a belief originating in compromises made on issues relating to business regulation and taxation to protect entrepreneurs and small businesses. The authors of the Constitution had expected the British to be the most likely to vote it down, so they had made concessions to them in advance, alienating the French in the process. The British, of course, don’t think the concessions were significant enough, and many there still object to the Constitution on the grounds that it is too intrusive and takes away too much business and legal sovereignty.

Another major concern was that the new Constitution would help to open borders for business and encourage more outsourcing of jobs from France to countries in Eastern Europe. Supporters of the Constitution maintain that both of these fears result from ignorance of the document, but the extreme length of the Constitution made it easy for special interests to represent it to serve their purposes because very few voters have the patience to actually read it. Polls indicate that the large majority of those who voted in the French referendum got their knowledge of the Constitution from other sources and had not actually read it.

Under the rules of the European Union the Constitution cannot be implemented if even a single member country votes it down. The likelihood of this was reduced by passing the Constitution by parliamentary approval rather than public referendum in most countries, but some of the larger nations insisted on referenda, and failure was also expected in The Netherlands later this week and Britain sometime this summer. The referenda in the remaining countries are expected to go forward as a measure of public opinion if nothing else.

Although there is opposition on many grounds from many quarters in Britain, one of the strongest objections there is concern that the Constitution is too pro-French. Other common objections include the length of the document – which almost no one has read at over 300 pages, the large and overpaid class of permanent unelected bureaucrats in the EU government and the loss of sovereignty and legal autonomy threatened by transfer of more and more power to a government outside of the British Isles. Many Britons feel that the EU government has grown beyond its originally intended purpose and that it costs a great deal of money and provides nothing in return that their own government doesn’t already do better and cheaper.

There is great concern in Britain that the defeat of the EU Constitution will result in the same efforts which followed the defeat of the original proposal of the Euro currency in the early 90s, with new versions of the Constitution being presented, tailored to the interests of the most actively objecting country, until the voters get bored, turnout goes down, and the Constitution gets approved. Even before the French referendum, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac had already publicly indicated their eagerness to meet with other EU leaders to work on changes to the Constitution in preparation for another vote. In anticipation of these efforts, opponents in a number of country have already expressed their resentment at having the Constitution ‘rammed down their throats’ the way the Euro and other EU policies have been.

So it seems that although the EU Constitution has now been fairly soundly defeated in the country which for many years was a leading cheerleader for the EU, it’s not going to go away any time soon.

Dave

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About Dave Nalle

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Just like how the Democrats succeeded in Washington state in 2004, and the Democrats failed in Florida in 2000, the Eurocrats will keep fighting and fighting until they get a poll that goes their way. And then they will declare victory and go on their way…

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    That’s the way it works in the Socialist Republic of Austin too – we defeated light rail over and over and over again, and then they managed to get it on a ballot in an election no one turned out for and a few thousand bike-riding econazis passed the crazy boondogle.

    Dave

  • http://georgepope28@hotmail.com Georgio

    one would think that a united Europe would be a good thing ..what are they really afraid of Dave..nice presentation..

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    One of the concerns was that the document was too pro-French, but it was the French who voted it down?

  • http://homepage.mac.com/donfrancisco864/iblog/index.html francisco68

    Anyone have any ideas what the effect will be on the strength of the US dollar?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>one would think that a united Europe would be a good thing ..what are they really afraid of Dave..nice presentation..<<

    The French appear to have been afraid for reasons which were mostly irrational. The fear of some sort of British domination really didn’t make much sense. Their concern over jobs moving to Eastern Europe is more realistic.

    There are real concerns in England and the Netherlands, where people are not at all happy with the administrators in the EU who are highly autonomous and not really answerable to anyone. If there’s a real concern that impacts everyone in Europe that and the issue of national sovereignty and preserving cultural identity are it.

    I read one very good argument recently on a British newspaper editorial page, to the effect that there’s nothing the EU does that Britain doesn’t do better, so what’s the logic of being in the EU and paying about $8 billion a year for the privelege. The Brits are basically underwriting a good portion of the EU, along with the other strong economies, and getting zero for it.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>One of the concerns was that the document was too pro-French, but it was the French who voted it down?<<

    It’s a compromise kind of document. The French think it’s too pro-British – which means pro-business. The British think it’s too pro-French – which means pro government.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Anyone have any ideas what the effect will be on the strength of the US dollar?<<

    The current decline of the dollar relative to the Euro is a fake crisis manufactured by the current administration as part of its economic recovery policy. Since things are improving economically the dollar will probably be allowed to go up gradually anyway. If the EU falls apart that will also help the dollar a bit, but only at the expense of a seriously failing Euro, which will hit the poorer countries in Europe pretty hard, especially Spain and Italy.

    Dave

  • JR

    Just like how the Democrats succeeded in Washington state in 2004, and the Democrats failed in Florida in 2000, the Eurocrats will keep fighting and fighting until they get a poll that goes their way. And then they will declare victory and go on their way…

    Isn’t that how the Republicans got their drilling in ANWR? It certainly wasn’t favored by the majority of Americans when Bush got into office.

    “It’s not over until we win.” – Ted Stevens

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Isn’t persistence the way everyone gets unpopular legislation passed? Not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing. On some issues where public sentiment is ambiguous like ANWR I think it’s a toss-up. On local issues like what’s gone on here in Austin I think it’s more offensive because the preferences of the public are so clear and indisputable.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Today is the Dutch referendum, BTW. Polls are still running very negative and I imagine the French referendum will motivate turnout on both sides. Results ought to be coming in within a few hours.

    Dave

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    The Dutch rejected the EU Constitution by something like a 13-7 margin…