Saturday, April 16, 2005

Chirac finds no favours

It seems that Jean-Marie Le Pen was only partly right. He had predicted that President Chirac's involvement in the referendum campaign will hand the non side a huge bonus. Not yet, it seems.

However, neither has the oui camp benefited from Jacky’s appearance on prime time TV on Thursday night.

On Friday the Paris based CSA institute conducted another poll and, as before, 56 percent of those asked said that they were planning to vote agains the Constitution. A third were still undecided.

Of those who had watched the great man speak, only 40 percent said that they were convinced by his words. (Sounds rather high to me. As conmen go, Chirac is not precisely up there with Stavisky.)

Part of the problem, as Bruno Jeanbart, director of political studies at CSA, explained is that Chirac has to appeal to the suspicious left of the French political spectrum and he is not particularly well placed to do so.

He tried to reassure the voters that the Constitution was not going to introduce a free-for-all, liberal regime in the EU. (Well, he is right. It is not.) But this is not a particularly left-wing cause in France, as it is in many other countries. The entire French establishment and political class is protectionist.

The left, however, detests Chirac. (Again, one cannot blame them for their only display of sound good sense.) His appeals to the socialists, who are deeply split on the subject of the Constitution, are not likely to be heeded.

The French campaign is watched with great anxiety in Germany, where the politicians had avoided problems by simply refusing to have a referendum, and in Poland, as we have already pointed out.

In both countries there have been anxious comments about Chirac's unpopularity and what that might do to the referendum.

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