A year ago, the debate on the draft European Constitution was in full swing in France ahead of the referendum on 29 May 2005. As we stressed in these pages (n° 307, April 2005), the discussions sometimes strayed a long way from the issues actually raised by the constitutional treaty. At the end of May 2005, the French voted decisively against the Constitution (almost 55% of the votes cast). Was the cause of this rejection genuine disquiet about the text to be voted on or, more generally, grievances about the European Union; or was the referendum simply an opportunity to express other criticisms which had more to do with the political, economic and social situation in France?
To answer this question, Eddy Fougier has analysed and compared a range of polls carried out after the referendum in France, but also in the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain (the three other members of the EU that held a referendum about the Constitution). He presents the results of this exercise here, and finds four main categories of reasons for the French "No": punishment of the government in power, anger about unemployment and social insecurity, rejection of economic ultraliberalism, and opposition to EU enlargement (both already achieved and planned) - these last two aspects combining with a certain degree of apprehension about globalization on the part of many in France.