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European Budget Treaty: “Broad Working Class Rejection of Parliamentary Ratification”

Translated Wednesday 3 October 2012, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Derek Hanson

According to Yves-Marie Caen, polling director at the CSA institute, the 2005 referendum campaign against the European Constitution Treaty made a public debate possible that no-voters want to see repeated today.

According to a previous poll, 72% of the French were in favor of a referendum on the European Budget Treaty. Do the new results that we’re publishing today indicate a decline in that position?

Yves-Marie Cann: The question that was asked this time was much more direct and concerned approval or disapproval of the decision by the President and the Prime Minister to have the treaty ratified by a vote of Parliament instead of by referendum. A relative majority – 49% — disapprove of that decision. Of course, the 50% mark (an absolute majority) has not been reached, but the 10% gap is significant enough. Moreover, disapproval was much more intense, with 30% of those polled expressing “complete disapproval.” Thus approval, among some left leaning people, was due more to a reaction of legitimizing the government than to pure and total support for the government’s decision.

Who are these 49% of the French?

Yves-Marie Cann: The split that became apparent over the European Constitution Treaty is still operational today: Sixty-two percent of the people who voted no in 2005 also disapprove of François Hollande and Jean-Marx Ayrault’s decision, whereas only 41% of the yes voters express disapproval. An even deeper split exists, depending on the social category of the people polled. Fifty-six percent of factory workers disapprove the decision, as against only 25% of executives and professionals. Thus the working classes demonstrate a certain discontentment. Finally, this study shows that the left is highly divided on the subject. A very small majority – 45% – of left-leaning people say they approve the government’s choice of parliamentary ratification, as against 43% who disapprove. Two blocs, roughly equal in size, are clashing.

Is the demand for a referendum shared by those who would vote yes and those who would vote no, if a referendum were to be held?

Yves-Marie Cann: Among those who favor Parliamentary ratification, 70% would vote for the European Budget Treaty in a referendum. Among those who oppose Parliamentary ratification, 44% would vote yes and 44% would vote no. Parliamentary ratification seems to be the ideal solution for those favoring ratification of the treaty. Ratification by referendum seems to be the best solution for those who oppose ratification to make their voices heard and to bring their weight to bear in the public debate. This scenario is similar to what we experienced in 2005. Whereas the polls showed a majority favoring ratification of the European Constitution Treaty, once ratification by referendum had been adopted, and as the vote got closer, and as the treaty’s opponents campaigned, the no camp made significant progress, to the point that voting intentions were inversed by the end of the winter, and on May 29, 2005, the treaty was rejected.

According to an IFOP poll, if the vote on the European Constitution Treaty were to be held again, 64% of the French would vote against it. Is this in contradiction with your results showing that a majority would vote for the European Budget Treaty?

Yves-Marie Cann: No. In the collective imagination, the European Constitution Treaty is well-anchored today and is believed to be responsible for a certain number of ills. The difference is certainly due to the fact that the content and the consequences of the provisions of the European Budget Treaty, such as the golden rule, are still not very well known to the French. It is important that each side be able to advance its arguments if the French are to be capable of expressing a more enlightened opinion than is the case today.

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