When Yes Means No

Most commentators routinely assume that a Yes vote in the May 29 French referendum on the proposed European Union Constitution would be good for Europe and the EU. But there is reason to doubt the conventional wisdom.

The French referendum will determine the political fate of French President Jacques Chirac – not France’s commitment to Europe, which is fixed and immutable. If the French vote No, M. Chirac is finished. If they vote Yes, he is re-empowered.

Europe clearly would be better off with Chirac weakened than strengthened, even if it means a temporary slowing of the pace of integration.

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