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The Implications of the ‘No’ Vote in France: Making the Most of a Wasted Opportunity

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Chapter Summary

When the French people cast their vote, nine Member States representing nearly half the people of European Union (EU) had already decided, by parliamentary vote or by a referendum, to ratify the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. France was the second Member State to ratify by referendum after Spain where approval of the Constitutional Treaty was massive - but turnout low. To understand the extent of this failure in case of France it is important to envisage the implications the referendum has had so far in the national and European contexts. This chapter looks at the different paradoxes which punctuated the ratification process and exercise of direct democracy in France by providing an analysis of the causes of the French 'no' vote. Understanding the negative result through this 'paradoxical' lens allows us to analyse the consequences of the 'no' vote and consider some positive developments in the aftermath of the crisis.

Keywords: 'no' vote; Constitutional Treaty; European Union (EU); France; Member States; ratification process; referendum implications



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