Referendum in France in 2005 on the European Constitution
On May 29, 2005, a non- consultative referendum took place in France to approve the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe . A majority of 55.7% of the voters voted against the acceptance of the contract.
The heads of state and government of the European Union signed the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe on October 29, 2004 in Rome. The treaty should improve the efficiency of cooperation within the European Union (EU) and strengthen the rights of the European Parliament. It also contained a catalog of basic values in which the EU set certain goals. After the contract was signed, the ratification process began in the individual member states of the EU. In most member states, a parliamentary resolution was sufficient. The constitution of some member states (e.g. Ireland ) made a referendum mandatory for this. In other member states, in which a simple parliamentary resolution would have sufficed according to the constitution, the governments announced a referendum. This was done in order to give the treaty more democratic legitimation, but also partly for domestic political reasons, for example under pressure from a public that demanded a direct say. In some member states, a referendum was not easily possible, as it would first have required a constitutional amendment (for example in Germany).
Germany and Austria belonged to the first group of states (ratification by parliamentary resolution) . The German Bundestag and Bundesrat as well as the Austrian National Council and Bundesrat approved the treaty with large majorities in May 2005. The latter group of countries whose governments have declared their intention to hold a referendum on the treaty included the following 10 countries: Denmark , France, Ireland, Luxembourg , the Netherlands , Poland , Portugal , Spain and the United Kingdom .
The first of these referenda took place on February 20, 2005 in Spain . With a turnout of 42.3%, 76.7% of voters voted in favor of accepting the contract.
Situation in France
In France, no referendum would have been necessary to ratify the treaty. The approval of the French parliament would have been sufficient for this. However, after consulting with the main political parties, President Jacques Chirac decided to call a referendum on the issue and announced this in a speech on March 4, 2005. At the time, opinion polls predicted a 55-60% majority for those in favor of the treaty. May 29, 2005 was set as the date for the vote.
Most of the major political parties were in favor of accepting the treaty. These included the bourgeois UMP , the UDF and Parti radical de gauche (PRG) , the Socialist Party (PS) , and the Greens ( Les Verts ) . However, there were also many critical voices regarding the EU, especially among the socialists and the Greens. The most prominent dissident within the PS was former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius .
The right-wing extremist Front National and Mouvement national républicain , the EU-skeptical and national-conservative Mouvement pour la France (MPF) under Philippe de Villiers and Rassemblement pour la France et l'indépendance de l'Europe ( RPF) under Charles Pasqua . In the left-wing political spectrum, alongside the left-wing nationalist Mouvement républicain et citoyen (MRC), the LCR , LO and the Communist Party (PCF) were in favor of a “no” vote.
In the political debate, the need to reorganize the European institutions after the EU enlargement in 2004 was cited as an argument in favor of the European Constitution . The extension of the powers of the European Parliament leads to a democratization of the European institutions. The opponents of the project emphasized the loss of French sovereignty. The aim of the EU policy is oriented too much towards liberal economic goals and must integrate more social aspects. On the part of the right-wing conservative parties, Turkey's possible membership of the European Union was also discussed, which was rejected by large parts of the French public.
Vote and result
The vote took place on May 29, 2005. The following question was put to the voters:
«Approvez-vous le projet de loi qui autorise la ratification du traité établissant une constitution pour l'Europe? »
"Do you support the law ratifying the treaty which is supposed to establish a constitution for Europe?"
|answer||be right||in percent|
|Invalid votes and blank ballot papers||730.522||2.52%|
|Eligible voters / turnout||41.789.202||69.37%|
Result by region
The approval rates in the regions differed in some cases.
|be right||in %||be right||in %|
|Pays de la Loire||841.866||50.11||838.038||49.89||3.24||72.11|
Analysis of the election result and the consequences
The no vote by French voters was not entirely unexpected, as the polls had indicated a corresponding change in sentiment shortly before the election date. Political commentators speculated that domestic political conditions in France were the decisive factor and that the vote was not a no to Europe, but a rejection of the French and European political establishment. The Chairman of the European Council , the Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, stressed that the ratification process in the other countries must continue. By the time of the French referendum, 9 member states had already ratified the treaty. Ultimately, however, referendums were only held in the Netherlands (on June 1, 2005) and Luxembourg (on July 10, 2005) . All other referendums have been canceled.
One month after the referendum, an election analysis commissioned by the European Commission came to the conclusion that voters from the political left in particular had voted “no”. 61% each of the voters of the Socialist Party and the Greens and over 90% of the voters of the Communist Party had voted “No”, while this was only 25% for supporters of the UMP / UDF. Likewise, voters in rural regions were more likely to have voted “no” than voters in urban regions. The reasons for a negative vote were expressed as concerns that the European Constitution could worsen the economic situation in France and increase unemployment. About a fifth of all those who voted No named a negative attitude towards President Chirac and the government as the main reason for their vote. “Yes” voters cited the need to continue building Europe as the main reason for their choice. According to this survey, 90% of those questioned generally supported France's membership in the European Union.
Domestically, the “no” vote meant that Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin , who was unsuccessful on this issue , resigned two days after the referendum on June 1, 2005. He was succeeded by Dominique de Villepin .
Just three days after the referendum in France, on June 1, 2005, an analogous referendum took place in the Netherlands on the European Constitution . Here, at 61.5%, the rejection of the agreement was even more pronounced than in France.
- THE EUROPEAN CONSTRUCTION WORK IN THE MIRROR OF ITS TREATIES> A Constitution for Europe. (No longer available online.) EU Commission, archived from the original on November 13, 2015 ; Retrieved July 3, 2015 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
- Paul Hainsworth: France Says No: The 29 May 2005 Referendum on the European Constitution . In: Parliamentary Affairs . tape 59 , no. 1 , January 2006, p. 98–117 , doi : 10.1093 / pa / gsj015 (English).
- Référendum du 29 May 2005. French Ministry of the Interior (Ministère de l'Intérieur), accessed on July 3, 2015 (French).
- Flash Eurobarometer: The European Constitution: Post-referendum survey in France. (PDF) European Commission, June 2005, accessed on July 3, 2015 (English).