Saturday, April 16, 2005

Chirac meets voters 

Jacques Chirac is finding it a rather novel and undignified experience having to defend the European Union and its constitution from a popular revolt - and as the French media admits, he sucks at it (other useful report here and here):
"The two-hour town hall-style meeting on Thursday evening marked the start of his push to promote the constitution, which is intended to reform EU decision-making after the admission of 10 new members last May. However, the 'no' campaign is leading in the opinion polls, and analysts suggested Chirac's debate with 83 carefully selected young people would not reverse the trend."
Town hall-style meeting? Facing real people? Carefully selected but still unconvinced after two hours? What is the world coming to? Next time will have to select more carefully.

There was an obligatory appeal to trans-Atlantic rivalry: "In the face of a growing world power that worries the French, and which is carried by an ultra-liberal current, facing the United States and the large emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil and South America and Russia, the European Union has to equip itself with 'useful rules.' These powers, we will not face them individually, France does not have that capability. That is why Europe must be strong and organized in order to oppose that evolution." Well, at least he's honest.

There was an appeal to local pride - by voting "no", France would become a "black sheep" in the European family; "France would cease to exist politically."

There was an appeal to local self-interest: "Today, our political power alone, within Europe, allows us [the French] to defend our interests. If tomorrow we were to vote no, we would no longer have any power."

There was also a blatant stealing from the late Pope John Paul: "Do not be afraid!" Granted, the Pope was pro-EU, but his vision of the Union as "Europe of [sovereign] nations", united by their common Judeo-Christian heritage, was a far cry from Chirac's vision of quasi-socialist superstate ruled from Brussels. The very reason why the Pope gave his tacit support to the "yes" vote in Poland's referendum on joining the EU was precisely because he believed that the inclusion of New Europe in the Union would swing the balance of power away from the Franco-German bureaucratic axis.

This could be one of those turning points. It will be interesting to watch.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?