Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The God squad intervenes

According to a Reuters report, French churches yesterday combined to speak for the EU constitution, urging voters not to turn the referendum into either a plebiscite over Turkey's entry bid or a vote on local political issues.

In a joint letter, Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders said the constitution, "brought substantial improvements to the existing treaties". They added: "The referendum has no other object than to accept or reject the treaty… The purpose is to decide on the treaty itself, without being distracted by purely national issues or side debates."

This was co-ordinated with a message from prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who also emphasised that the treaty had nothing to do with Turkey and would strengthen the "French model in Europe". Valery Giscard d'Estaing, added his weight to the plea, warning the French not to reject it.

"If we say 'no', there will be a crisis, it means we will go back to Nice, the worst treaty for France," Giscard told France 3 television. "One must not believe that there will be a favourable negotiation after a 'no'."

Meanwhile, yet another poll, this one conducted by the IFOP research group for Paris Match magazine, has found 53 percent of respondents declaring an intention to vote against the constitution, with 47 percent in favour. This is the fifth consecutive poll to favour the "no" campaign.

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