...Continued from page 1

Green Euro–deputy Daniel Cohn–Bendit suggested the result of a 'no' vote. "Do you think if Marie–George Buffet, Fabius, Besancenot or Bové* were elected president they could renegotiate the constitution? No, Sarkozy would be president! And on that evening, it'll be Bush who will be making Champagne toasts."

The Quartier Latin's Rue de Bièvre.

*Marie-George Buffet, Fabius, Besancenot or Bové - respectively, head of the French Communist Party, dissident Socialist Party leader, leader of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionaire, and spokesman of the Peasant's Federation; all campaigning for a 'no' vote.

Click here for referendum info, in French.

Echoes of a Fiasco

After describing Jacques' sales pitch for the referendum on TF1–TV Thursday night as 'chaotic,' newspapers mentioned that opinion polling went on in the background. Instead of the Président giving a boost for a 'yes' vote the opposite happened. On Saturday Le Parisien published results of a CSA poll it commissioned that indicated intentions for a 'no' vote has risen a point, to 56 percent.

A snap poll of a small sample those who witnessed the broadcast revealed that 51 percent thought that the président was not convincing, while 40 percent thought otherwise.

Programmed to appeal to a youthful audience, the broadcast failed to reach its target. It was estimated that 19.4 percent of the national audience of households under 50 watched TF1, while 22.8 percent watched a re–run of the horse opera 'Pale Rider' on France–3. Worse, while TF1 booked 21.8 percent of the 15–34 audience, 33.4 percent of the same age group watched 'La Nouvelle Star' on M6–TV.

The same 'exit' poll conducted after the broadcast, revealed some contradictions. If it were just a question of whether Europe should have a constitution, then 59 percent thought that Chirac was convincing. Another 52 percent thought that Europe should have a common foreign policy, which will be the case if the constitution is ratified.

Nobody seems to understand thatphoto, lux loungers, pool there is no possibility of a 'renegotiation' of the treaty for the Constitution. On this, opinion was about equally divided about Chirac's explanation. If the French vote 'no' in the referendum, that is the end of it – finished for all. A completely new text would have to be written.

Doubt of the Président was highest concerning the effect of the Constitution on daily life in France, the future of public services, and the possibility of social gains. The French don't want to go backwards.

Hotbed of dissent takes Sunday off.

Finally, Jacques Chirac was unable to convince a majority that there is no connection between the adoption of the Constitution and the entry of Turkey into the European Union.

The wilder anti–constitutionalists insist that a 'yes' vote in the referendum will mean Turkey's accession to membership, almost automatically. In reality a Turkish bid is on the table, but it is unlikely to be serious before 10 years, and if it goes ahead it would take another 5 years for Turkey to conform to EU terms. By then Turkey is unlikely to be the same, and the same will be true for the European Union.

The conservative German paper Die Welt suggested that the Président's exercise on Thursday night had 'an air of East Germany, sometimes menacing, sometimes paternalistic,' explaining to the French 'how to vote.' The liberal Süddeutsche Zeitung said it was 'a second–class show.' In en editorial the Munich paper said that Chirac isn't the one who can sell the Constitution to the French.

London's Financial Times thinks that a French 'no' will be contagious. The Guardian suggested that a 'no' in France could be fatal for the European Union's ambition to be as politically powerful as its size merits. Italy's Il Sole 24 Ore mocked Chirac for using the late Pope's phrase, 'there's nothing to fear.' Sweden's Aftonbladet wondered if Socialists would vote 'no' against the Constitution, or in an attempt to depose Chirac and his 'relatively corrupted bourgeois clique.'

I missed earlier comments by European papers after Jacques Chirac went on the road, for example, to Spain – to boost morale for a 'yes' vote there. It's another indication of the 'new' Europe when political leaders from one country go to another and effectively mix in their 'internal' affairs. Did the Spanish right–wing say 'boo?' Hardly likely since they were for the Constitution before being overtaken by the Socialists – who were against it when they were the opposition. Spaniards, in their referendum, voted 'yes' for adoption of the Constitution.

Update

On tonight's TV–news it was announced that 46 million copies of the Constitution are being printed and will be mailed to all households before 14. May, leaving exactly 15 days to read the near–200 page document.

There are 42 days left until the polls for the referendum open in France on Sunday, 29 May.

Killer Fire

The 'hotel' fire in Paris that killed 22 in the night of Thursday–Friday - concerned a building rented by the city to house the homeless and families without residence papers. As far as known the hotel was in fairly good shape and the blaze was accidental. It was the first hotel fire in 30 years with such a loss of lives.

Sporting News

On Wednesday, in a simple ceremony in a gilded Parisian palace, Bruce Willis was honored by being made an officer of the Order of Arts and Letters, by the Minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, who noted that Willis was born in Europe. In French, Bruce 'Butch' Willis thanked France, "Pour ce grand, grand honneur." On Thursday in pouring rain, Willis was on the Champs–Elysées to present his new film, 'Otage,' to the press. After the premiere at the Gaumont Marignan, Willisphoto, lux loungers zipped off to the 'in' restaurant, La Suite, where Champagne flowed in rivers for 300 close friends, presided over by the current 'reine des nuits,' Cathy Guetta.

More revolutionaries dozing in the Luxembourg.

Gérard Depardieu's allegedly drunken appearance on the TV show 'Ça balance à Paris' was reported by the UK paper, The Independent. However since the show was broadcast via cable on Paris Première it wasn't seen by the whole world. On TV to promote his new book, 'Ma Cuisine,' Gérard took exception to critic Martin Monestier, calling him an idiot repeatedly – 'un abruti' – and then a 'tête de lard.' The presenter Michel Field was unable to get the upper hand, until the patisserie chef Pierre Hermé offered Gérard a piece of cake. Television is so dull these days that fans have to have a considerable age in order to remember Serge Gainsbourg calmly lighting a cigarette by setting fire to a a 500 franc note. Serge, if you read this, please come back.

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