Vote in France: the ripples of a "oui" or "non"

President &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Jacques Chirac has always loved the limelight but over the past month-and-a-half he showed signs of wishing he could withdraw from the spotlight that tomorrow`s French referendum on the EU Constitution treaty has cast on him, his political future and, indeed, that of France.

After all, this is the country that provided two men of vision, Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman, who did so much to spawn European unity. Could this same country turn its back on that? That is to put matters at their dramatic worst. After all, should the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>French electorate toss the treaty out of the window there is no reason, no inviolably valid reason at least, to conclude that the European dream will have come to an end.

The Dutch in particular will be following tomorrow's exercise with great interest. They go to their polling booths on Wednesday to give their verdict on the acceptability or otherwise of the EU Constitution as it is now framed. A negative French decision may well influence those Dutch voters who have still to make up their minds, tells the Times of Malta.

The European dream will not come to an end if France rejects the Constitution. The fear is that before it comes true we may suffer a few nightmares, some of them provided by France itself, an uglier side of France than the EU has so far witnessed.

According to the News Day, The nation that was the biggest force behind the creation of the European Union, chivying other Europeans to get behind the dream of a colossus to rival the United States in commercial and political power, is now wracked with doubts about signing on to the EU`s first attempt to ratify its constitution.

Viewed from this side of the Atlantic, there is a kind of delicious perversity about this uniquely Gallic shrug by France`s populace to the leadership`s desperate entreaties not to reject the proposed constitution in Sunday`s referendum.

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