French want their say on EU treaty, survey shows


61% of French citizens would like to see a referendum on the ‘Lisbon Treaty’ set to be signed by EU leaders in December, according to a recent poll. However, President Nicolas Sarkozy remains determined to pass the document by parliamentary vote.

The poll, published by CSA/ Le Parisien on 29 October, reveals that 61% of respondents would like to be consulted in a referendum on the treaty, as was the case for the draft EU Constitution, which was rejected by voters in 2005. Only 31% prefer to pass it through parliament, the method announced by Sarkozy during the presidential campaign.

Together with another failed referendum in the Netherlands, the two “no-votes” on the Constitutional Treaty plunged the EU into a major crisis. It is only now that EU leaders say they have overcome this crisis and are ready to address institutional reform with a new treaty – adapting the existing regime to an EU that has grown from 15 to 27 members in the meantime.

Following the negative votes in 2005, EU leaders are trying to avoid popular votes on the new treaty wherever possible and will opt to ratify the text via their national parliaments. So far only Ireland, which is bound by its constitution, has announced it will hold a referendum. But debates in the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark are heating up as ratification edges closer.

Meanwhile, the French poll offers hope that a referendum on the new treaty will not necessarily be lost. 68% of those who answered said that they would vote in favour of the treaty and only 32% of respondents said that they would vote against.

EU leaders are set to rubber stamp the new treaty when they meet on 13 December in Lisbon.

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