Saturday, May 14, 2005

Le chat out of le sac?

Somebody had better tell Jacques Delors that he is a tad off-message – before Giscard gets to hear of it.

According to The Independent, the former commission president is admitting that the EU constitution can be rewritten, if it is rejected at the 29 May referendum.

What The Independent describes as "French Eurosceptics" (is there such a thing?) seized gleefully on a statement, which contradicts leaders of the "yes" campaign who have warned that rejection of the treaty would be a political train-wreck from which France - and the EU - would emerge permanently damaged.

Delors - although a vociferous supporter of the constitution - said that "a duty of truthfulness" forced him to admit that, if France voted "no", there couldafter all be a "plan B" or renegotiation of the treaty.

But he went on to say that France would be "undoubtedly weakened" in the short term; that the EU would be plunged into confusion; and a rapid solution would be impossible.

According to The Independent, opponents of the treaty are saying that Delors has let the cat out of the bag. If French voters rejected the treaty, it could be renegotiated and, therefore, changed to take account of their concerns.

This may be just the boost the "nons" need. A poll conducted today by Ifop for Web site, showed 54 percent of 1,016 people surveyed on 12-13 May plan to reject the constitution, overtaking again the "yes" vote at four four points higher than a survey on 3-4 May

Nevertheless, the vote is still on a knife-edge with the TNS-Sofres poll for Le Monde conducted on 9-10 May putting support for the constitution at 52 percent.

Having reversed the powerful trend towards "no" two weeks ago, the "yes" camp had hoped to rebuild a commanding lead in the polls. It now appears that the French electorate - and especially voters of the centre-left - is split down the middle.

Thus, the outcome, says The Independent, may remain unpredictable until the referendum itself on Sunday 29 May. L'escroc had better get his printing presses working.

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