Tuesday, March 29, 2005

French "nons" firm

For the second time, a Ipsos survey for Le Figaro and Europe 1 shows the “no” campaign in the lead, 54 percent against 46 percent for "yes", with a clear majority with the Socialist party

This is slightly down on Saturday's poll for the weekly Marianne magazine, which gave fifty-five percent of French voters opting to deep-six the EU constitution.

Nevertheless, this poll, the fourth in succession to show the "no" campaign in the lead, is especially significant as it was conducted on 25 and 26 March, after the European Council when Chirac declared his great victory on the "Bolkestein directive". Rather than improve its position, the "yes" campaign has lost two more points, compared with the previous Ipsos poll, carried out on 18 and 19 March.

The poll also finds that the increased opposition comes exclusively from the left, with 58 against the constitution, as opposed a "stable minority" on the right at 33 percent. This represents an eight point movement in one week, and compares with 59 percent support in December, when the Socialist’s internal referendum was held.

As to the more detailed spread of voting intentions, private sector employees polled at 76 percent "non", public sector workers at 58 percent and those on low wages at 71 percent.

Also significant is that the government's claim that a "non" vote would lead to the collapse of the European project has had little effect. The majority of voters – 51 percent against 48 percent a week ago – do not believe this is a significant factor. Opinion is more evenly divided, however, on whether rejecting the constitution would "weaken France in Europe". But more (45 percent) reject this thesis than agree with it (42 percent).

Most of those polled (67 percent) claimed they would be voting on the text of the constitution but "the economic and social situation in France" will weigh strongly in the vote: for 66 percent, this is a factor (70 percent of the Socialist electorate).

However, there is still everything to play for. Only 48 percent of those questioned expressed a strong intention to vote. Amongst those, 31 percent did not express a choice. Of those that expressed an opinion, 29 percent said they would be prepared to change their view.

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