Tuesday, May 31, 2005

France cuts off its nose 

After the disastrous EU Constitutional Vote, all of Europe is in disarray, and Chirac is flailing vainly to save his legacy and his control of the government (Perhaps best expressed here). In some interesting analysis here, Turkish news source Zaman Daily notes the contradicting, and at times blindingly dumb, motivations for the various opponents of the charter.

According to the survey conducted by the Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) research center, 46 percent of French voters gave the reason that unemployment will increase with the introduction of the EU constitution for their rejection, and 40 percent said no due to their continued dissatisfaction with the current situation in the country. While 35 percent of the people who voted "no" find the constitution "too liberal", and the other 19 percent voted no because their anxiety that France will lose its identity.

In the CSA survey published in Le Parisien newspaper, on the other hand, 41 of voters rejected the constitution due to "the social problems France experiences", and 26 percent said "no" because of the "role of France in Europe".

Astonishing as it may be, many of the no votes had nothing to do with the content of the charter (as the numbers show, almost half voted no based on domestic strife). But rather than voting for reform to fix a shattered economic system, most voted no because they want to preserve the system of public Health Care and economic free riding, one which has had the result of unemployment above 10%, 1 in 4 French youth unemployed, and a Health Care budget more than 25 BILLION Euro in the red.
What's most interesting about the landslide no vote is how the Right and the Left (in French terms, which to those of us in the US "The center left" and "the insanely far left") basically came to opposite conclusions about the treaty, but still voted the same way! (Audio). While the French communists and moderate lefties saw the treaty as a giant capitalist ploy to unify all of Europe under a massive, satanic free market (which really wouldn't be that bad in its own way), the French Right expressed disdain with the loss of sovereignty and flexed their nationalism, mirroring in many ways the common UK discontent. Its no surprise that domestic concerns motivated the vote as much as political ones, what is surprising is that neither side got it right.
In essence, the vote vindicated many principles of realist dogma (which I must concede, grudgingly at times, often get it right), in particular that Nations, not organizations like the EU (or the UN), are the only lasting players on the global stage, and that nationalism and sovereignty will always win out. While subsequent votes could weaken this outcome, it is clear the French voters rejected the only means, sound or not, of balancing the United States. Ironically, it was their hatred of western capitalism that drove them to their demise.

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