The Road To Ratification
Last December 12, you will recall, the so-called "simplified Treaty", a euphemism for the European Constitution, was adopted in Lisbon by the member States of the EU. After that initial agreement, the individual parliaments must ratify the Treaty, except in Ireland where, by law, a referendum must be held. In France, ratification is a three-step process: first the National Assembly, then the Senate, then the combined Assembly and Senate. On January 16, the National Assembly adopted the revisions that were worked out in Lisbon. On January 29, the Senate will vote and on February 4, final vote by the two houses will take place in Versailles.
As of now, there is absolutely nothing to indicate that there is even the slightest chance of the Treaty being voted down. Le Figaro reports:
In the final tally 304 deputies voted for, 77 voted against the revisions, and 100 chose to abstain.
Breaking these figures down, the UMP party (of Sarkozy) voted for the revisions, the Communist Party voted no, while 95 socialists out of 204 opted to abstain, in accordance with a decision made on
Tuesday during a party meeting. However, 51 socialist deputies, including Laurent Fabius, Henri Emmanuelli, Arnaud Montebourg and Michel Vauzelle voted no to protest President Sarkozy's decision to bypass a referendum in favor of a parliamentary vote. Eight socialists and leftist radicals including Jack Lang chose to vote for the revisions. The remaining socialists did not participate in the voting.
Socialist Jean-Jacques Urvoas, a proponent of the new Treaty said that the socialists "did not want to obstruct the constitutional revision". He pointed out that the party intended to file a motion on Thursday (January 17) for a referendum, so that the people might be consulted on the Treaty.
After the voting, secretary of state for European affairs, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, greeted "an important and necessary step in the ratification process" and Minister of Justice Rachida Dati saw in the result "an essential vote for the resumption of the construction of Europe." (...)
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, an independent deputy and a fierce opponent of the European Constitution gives a description of the atmosphere during the debate that preceded last week's vote in the National Assembly. These are excerpts from a much longer blog entry:
Few of us were there to oppose this parliamentary coup, unprecedented since the Liberation.
The speeches given by UMP orators were stupefying. General de Gaulle must have been turning over in his grave! The most fallacious arguments were used to justify the unjustifiable: the refusal to consult the people through referendum. (...) For my part, I demolished one by one the government's arguments, but it chose not to respond to me, because, in all honesty, it had nothing to say in retaliation!
In truth, alongside those who understand nothing about anything and who, at any rate, couldn't care less, were those deputies who have always been federalists and who were conscious of the historic regime change that would result from the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon and who discreetly savored the sweet taste of victory. And there were those naive ones who still believe that we can display a national political will and at the same time adopt such a treaty.
Opposing this united front were the Socialist Party, torn by internal divisions, and the Communists, a few Gaullists and one Sovereigntist, who fought to the finish! (...)
By dint of removing from the debate all that is substantial, essential, and true, the mirror of the media, in which the ruling elite shamelessly see their own reflection, will be shattered along with the leaders. For, let us make no mistake, we cannot continue for long living peacefully in France in a system that is so sealed, so oligarchic, so scornful of the people and the intelligence of the public. There is no historic example where the French people endured such a heavy burden without rebelling. (...)