Gianfranco Fini, the Italian Foreign Minister, has decided to take part in the French referendum campaign. Well, why not? Everyone else seems to be taking part – Chancellor Schröder, the Latvian President, assorted German “public intellectuals”, old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all.
Whether Signor Fini’s contribution is going to be all that useful is not clear. On the one hand he is “optimistic” that the French people will come to their senses and vote for the Constitution.
On the other hand, if they don’t, well, that is not the end of the world either.
“The project of the constitution would reach deadlock. . . It doesn't mean that Europe would fall to pieces, but it would mean that the process would come to a halt.Well, that’s rather reassuring. Good to know that Europe will not fall to pieces because of a no vote or, indeed, when one thinks about it logically, for any other reason.
I hope that the Yes camp wins, and I'm still rather optimistic. . . Even if the No vote prevailed, what we have to stress is that it wouldn't be so much a No to the European treaty. It would be a convergence of a wide range of different positions, many influenced by domestic politics in France.”
And, of course, it is very good to know that a no vote to the European treaty would not really be a no vote to the European treaty. After all, nobody sane would vote against such a wonderful project.
Above all, Signor Fini explained, a no vote in France should not prevent Turkey from joining the European Union. He is, of course, quite right in explaining that the two developments – the Constitution and Turkey’s potential membership – are unrelated. However, aware that this is an unpopular issue in France, President Chirac has tried to separate the two by promising another referendum in ten years’ time when Turkey’s membership is sur le tapis.
Signor Fini’s pronouncement is not going to please the French electorate or, for that matter, President Chirac. It is high time Europe’s politicians (and that goes for the British ones as well) grasped that the people of Europe (and that goes for the people of Britain as well) are getting very tired of being told that it does not really matter what they want or which way they vote. The outcome will always be the same, as decided by the elite.