One cannot help feeling that political leaders have a rather inflated opinion of their own importance. Yes, of course, that is a truism but the circus that is known as the French referendum campaign has proved it in abundance.
Not content with his previous performances, each of which sent the no vote soaring, President Chirac has returned to the fray, this time bringing two of his buddies along.
One is Chancellor Shröder, who, having refused the German people a referendum, is in a particularly strong position as far as campaigns are concerned.
Speaking in Nancy, in eastern France, he reinforced Chirac’s message that there will be no renegotiation. If France says no, then … well that bit of it remains unclear.
Chirac merely emphasises that the other 24 countries (it seems to have slipped his memory that there is the odd other referendum coming up but then French presidents are not good at remembering other countries) will not be in a giving mood:
“How can you think for a second that because France says 'no,' that our partners will say, 'Oh, all right, let's start over.”Chancellor Schröder also forgot about other countries having referendums and assured the audience (Who exactly goes to these meetings? We never hear any accounts from those who hear the speeches.) that it was pure fantasy to imagine that the 25 will in any way accommodate France if the country says no.
It must be rather odd for the French to be on the receiving end of these threats. Normally, they are the ones to wield the big stick.
Chancellor Schröder added:
“France has a big responsibility not to let other Europeans down. If we want to develop Europe, we need everyone. But we especially need France.”Clearly, there is no plan B as to what to do should the French vote no.
President Chirac’s other buddy was the Polish leader Aleksander Kwasniewski, who is a little worried as to what his own country might say, should its people be asked. He explained to the sceptical French that they had nothing to fear from Polish workers flooding in from Poland and undermining the unworkable economic system.
Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he. I wonder what the next lot of polls will show to be the result of this little outing, bearing in mind that the no side is fighting back steadily, anyway. Now they have three leaders to defy, instead of just one.