O Freunde, nicht dieser Töne!

Sondern lasst uns angenehmere
anstimmen, und freudenvollere!

France votes no to the EU Constitution: 55% no – 45% yes. Turnout is high.

So, back to the drawing board? Not sure here… Naturally, if you value the democratic principle that everyone must have the opportunity to pronounce himself on the issue, and if you want to know if France (and perhaps the Netherlands and the UK) are alone in Europe in their rejection of the Constitution, the ratification process should continue. That is also what, in the run-up to the referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker said he thought should happen. Several European politicians have repeated that tonight.

On the other hand, the French result may influence the votes in other countries so much that the outcomes might not be too indicative of people’s opinions anyway. And a, no doubt, symbolic rearrangement of the Constitution’s contents would of course offer the opportunity to relaunch the ratification process and get it right this time (i.e. voting on the same day or at least in the same week, or even better: an EU-wide referendum after parliamentary ratification in those countries where a national referendum can be avoided).

Freude, Schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuer-trunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!

The ‘no’ was won by the extreme left (PCF and other far-left supporters voted 94-98% against) and the extreme right (Front National supporters voted 93% against). The moderate left was moderately against (PS supporters 56% against). Supporters of the EU-federalist liberal UDF party voted massively in favour (76%), as did supporters of President Chirac’s UMP party (80%). (Source: Ipsos)

The PS party, which was split during the campaign, will no doubt be in disarray. As will the UMP, after the bloody nose voters gave the President, who has Sarko, feuer-trunken, on his heels.

What we have seen, was, as far as the politicians are concerned, not a referendum on the EU Constitution, but the first round of the presidential elections of 2007. Remarkably, the same seems to be true for the voters: According to an exit poll shown on TV5 tonight, the main reason for people to vote ‘no’ was, with 52%, the economic and social situation. Let us not forget that France has an unemployment rate of 10%, and even 20% for youngsters. Let us not forget, either, that a more “social” Europe in line with the French left’s wishes for the Constitution will make that even worse…

Deine Zauber binden wieder,
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Br�der,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Neither the EU, nor the Constitution is impopular because they are bad. I am still firmly convinced that both the EU and Constitution are themselves the best means to counter their opponents’ objections.

As motivating ideas behind European integration, “uniting again what had been separated” and “all men will be brothers” should be equally appealing in 2005 as they were in 1945 and in 1989. What the EU does seem to lack these days, as opposed to its early years, is leaders whose “magic” is able to unite the masses behind those ideas.

5 Responses to “O Freunde, nicht dieser Töne!”

  1. European Democracy » Finance in perspective Says:

    […] each nation looking after its national interest is that we do the exact opposite. I have said it before, and I say it again here: what Europe really ne […]

  2. European Democracy » Idea crisis or leadership crisis? Says:

    […] Idea crisis or leadership crisis? Commenting on the French results, I wrote: As motivating ideas behind European integration, […]

  3. shana Says:

    hi,
    what’s the meaning of the german quote posted here/?

  4. eulogist Says:

    All the German quotes are appropriate lines (at least I thought they were) from the Ode to Joy that serves as the EU’s “national anthem”. It is part of the last movement of Beethoven’s ninth symphony, which I admit to playing numerous times last summer as part of my coming to terms with the outcome of the referendums ;-). The text of the Ode was based on a poem (“An die Freude”, i.e. To Joy) by 18th century German poet Heinrich Schiller.

    You can find the German text and the English translation of Beethoven’s Ode in this Wikipedia article. The title of my post means “Oh friends, not these tones!”.

  5. First casualty | afoe | A Fistful of Euros | European Opinion Says:

    […] Eulogist: The ?no? was won by the extreme left (PCF and other far-left supporters voted 94-98% against) and the extreme right (Front National supporters voted 93% against). The moderate left was moderately against (PS supporters 56% against). Supporters of the EU-federalist liberal UDF party voted massively in favour (76%), as did supporters of President Chirac?s UMP pary (80%). […]

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