Monday, July 26, 2004

Spain "ayes" February

After initially promising a referendum in November, the Spanish government is now planning on February for the event. It proposes to ask the question, "Do you approve the treaty instituting a constitution for the European Union?", and expects a resounding "aye".

This might be helped by the fact that both the governing Socialist Party (PSOE) and the main opposition Popular Party (PP) are behind the constitution.

Whether the Spanish population will be so keen, there is no clue, although the government probably needs to get the referendum out of the way before its people realise how much money they are going to lose when structural funds are cut as a result of enlargement.

As with many net recipient countries, pro-EU sentiment tends to dominate but, in a country known for its mercenary attitude to cash handouts from Brussels, this may be more a matter of "cupboard love" than enthusiasm for political integration. An early referendum, therefore, may be the only chance the government has of winning the vote.

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