OpinionMeister

Saturday, March 19, 2005

A Tale of Two French Polls

Two separate articles in the Washington Times report on two polls in France, the first of more consequence and the second the more interesting. The first showed a majority in opposition to the EU Constitution for the first time. Link.
The political elites of France and the rest of Europe were shocked yesterday by an opinion poll that for the first time suggested a majority of French voters will reject the European Union Constitution in a referendum in 10 weeks. (...)

The figures were bad news for President Jacques Chirac, who has put his political weight behind the EU Constitution, and showed the difficulties of mobilizing support for a document that few people understand. (...)

The document, which is meant to streamline decision making in the expanding bloc, must be ratified in all 25 member states. And observers don't see how it could survive in its existing form if turned down in one of the European Union's largest and most important countries.

The second asked for the greatest Frenchman of all time. Napoleon failed to make the top ten. He ranked 16. Link.
Military genius, conqueror of Europe and Egypt, lawmaker, looter of art without equal and lover: None of Napoleon's extraordinary talents has saved him from the indignity of failing to make a Top 10 of greatest Frenchmen or women. (...)

The final lineup, listed alphabetically, includes Gen. Charles de Gaulle, scientists Louis Pasteur and Marie Curie, singer Edith Piaf, explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, giants of French literature Moliere and Victor Hugo, comedians Coluche and Bourvil, and the only living contender, the 92-year-old philanthropic priest Abbe Pierre. He helped Jews to escape from the Nazis and later campaigned tirelessly for the poor.

The first poll is the more important of the two. The biggest pushers of the EU Constitution have been the governments of France, Germany and Belgium. If the French reject it in their May 29 referendum it will be a crushing blow to the Eurocrats. Everyone expected the Brits to be wary of it, but the French rigged the original EU to give themselves much more than they put in, and to live off the other members. If it has less than 99% support in France, you know it is in trouble.

The second poll seems to show that while the French elites pine for the days of French power and glory, the people, who bore the brunt of the costs of that glory, prefer a peaceful Europe and a merchant France. It still is not a total rejection of the military, since de Gaulle made the list. Defending France is still popular. Aggressive conquest for the glory of France is off the table.

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