Saturday, October 23, 2004

Ratification round-up

Perhaps overawed by the somewhat dubious honour of being the host of the signing of the constitutional treaty, due in Rome on 29 October, the Italians are now bidding to be first off the mark with ratification, perhaps before Christmas.

Franco Frattini, minister of foreign affairs, wants Italy to be "an integration flag", dismissing the idea of a referendum. According to a release by the government news agency AGI, the English version of which conveys a certain charm, the reason why the referendum is not thought necessary is that "majority of people understood this constitution does not create a European super-state, not a federal Europe. It does not mortify countries' identity."

One suspects that UK Europhiles will not be running around claiming that the constitution "does not mortify countries’ identity", although they might get better results if they did, just on the novelty quotient.

Minister, Bertinotti, Cossutta, however, goes one better in trying to attract the left wing parties, declaring (according to AGI), "Reading this document, without prejudices, left radical parties would understand that inside it there is a particular care for social policies."

Meanwhile, Spain has set the date for its referendum, to be held on 20 February of next year, on the back of an opinion poll that shows 56.9 percent of the population in favour of the constitution, 22.7 percent undecided and only 7.9 percent against.

With the French yet to set a date, however, their Greens have nevertheless all but decided to say "oui!. Green big guns, including the deputy mayor of Paris, Denis Baupin, former environment minister, Yves Cochet and mayor of Begles, Noël Mamère, are all backing a "yes".

The official decision, though, will not be taken until after an internal party vote on 21 November. If the vote actually produced a ‘non’ this could swing the internal socialist referendum, now due on 1 December. Nevertheless, a Green "non" vote is thought unlikely, which puts the British Greens in something of a quandary as they are formally allied to the French Greens through their European parliament political group.

However, the Greens are used to being two-faced on just about everything, so the schism should not trouble them too much.

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