Hooray for that, say I. Giscard wrote a long constitution (300+ pages with 448 articles!) because he couldn’t write a short one. The length and detail are nothing but an artful bureaucratic dodge around what a constitution should truly be: a brief recitation of the highest principles that will govern the content of law and the separation of powers in a state. This document was nothing of the kind.
The Globe’s Monday story (written by Charles Sennott) completely misses the democratic angle of this rejection, especially in these most curious 2 paragraphs:
In the end, analysts said, it was a grave miscalculation by Chirac to hold the referendum. Under French law, the treaty could have been approved by parliament and almost certainly would have sailed through.
But Chirac fatefully chose to put it to a referendum out of confidence that the French voters would see the merits of the document. Instead, it bitterly divided the country.
“It bitterly divided the country”, huh? Where have we heard that old chestnut before (November 2000 and November 2004)? The purest of horse manure.
Chirac chose a referendum because he wanted the ratification of the constitution to have a semblance of legitimacy, which could not be provided by a rubber-stamp from the weak French legislative branch. Credit him with that much integrity or political common sense (which the Globe account does not mention). That the French people’s rejection of this constitution may cause chaos for the EU political class is merely another good reason for their voting “non”. I saw plenty of “non” stickers in Paris a couple of weeks ago. The above one was pasted in the Paris Metro.
There is certainly hope for a European constitution, provided its drafting includes significant participation of the governed, unlike the present attempt. Mark Steyn captures the anti-democratic spirit of the EU apparatchiks, but offers little hope that they will respond to the rebuff they have just received. I hope he is wrong, but he is usually not.