Monday, May 30, 2005

"Non"

Jacques Chirac est mort. He's finished after this most politically tragic vote repudiating the new EU constitution. Now before you think that this signifies that the French have begun to gain some sense, here's a bit of perspective: the referendum was lost mainly as a result of far left and right voters who, for differing reasons, opposed the Constitution. There was significant concern that the ratification would cause the French to lose their very generous social welfare system, as well as cause an influx of folks who would lower the prevailing wage rates. Then there were those whose economic concerns were trumped by the very accurate concern that this spelled the death of French sovereignty. All valid concerns of loss.

But the big loser was Chirac who spent all of his remaining political capital to get the thing passed. This is completely devastating. A fairly accurate American parallel would have been a result in Iraq for which most of the Democrats and the mainstream media had been praying last year: the failure of the Iraq elections, an unwillingness of thje Iraqi people to take ownership of their government and security, Paul Bremer remaining viceroy over Iraq, and a powerful and credible "insurgence" by foreign terrorists. Bush would have been politically leveled.

But right now, the victim is the fairly anti-American Chirac, which now makes the passage of the constitution in the Netherlands this week all the less likely. This was Chirac's effort to turn Europe (read: "Greater France") into the economic counterweight to the U.S.

It sure doesn't look great for the future when the main booster of the document votes it down. And it raises a number of questions about the arrogance of the French government, given that a turnout of 70% rejected the biggest change in French government since Normandy.

C'est dommage.

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