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Open Access Publications from the University of California

French Vote on EU Constitution

  • Author(s): Deubner, Christian
  • et al.

French chanson is rightly renowned for finding fitting words and melodies to sing the essential feelings of human life.

„Non je ne regrette rien“, sang Edith Piaf: No, I regret nothing!, and this might be a leitmotif of Non-voters in France when they think of the 29th may 2005 when they succeeded in gaining a majority of 54% and blocking the ratification of the European Constitution, for France, and-–together with the Netherlands–-for the rest of the European Union. The days after, 54% of interviewed Frenchmen confirmed this non, je ne regrette rien, considering themselves satisfied with the NON decision, and ony 39% were dissatisfied. (Eurobarometer 6/2005, par 3.1)

But it is also true that many of them may now already have started to ask themselves, in the words of another icon of French chanson, Gilbert Becaud : „Et maintenant, que vais je faire ?“, And now, what shall I do?

This question is not only asked by them, the parties and other political movements which battled for the Non, it is also asked by political leaders who had defended the Oui / Yes, and who find themselves, as in the Socialist Party, with a majority of members who voted Non, or in the government, which had from its top downwards, defended the Yes, and which now faces an electorate which disavowed it resoundingly, and which expects its opposing vote to be heard and to find expression in politics.

But „Que vais je faire?“, this question is also asked beyond the borders of France, in other European capitals and political movements, and in Brussels, the EU's capital. And naturally, the European Union's friends all over the world, also in the United States, are asking what the significance is, of this NON, and what France and what Europe, will do in the months after this disavowal of official French European policy, by its own people. And opinions vary widely.

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