News

    Divisions Deepen After France Rejects EU Constitution

    Lisa Bryant

    Leftist militants wave placards reading "No, another Europe is possible" in Toulouse, southwestern France
    The rejection by French voters of the European Constitution Sunday has plunged France into a political crisis. The no vote has hurt both the ruling conservative party of French President Jacques Chirac and the opposition Socialists.

    The results were unequivocal. Nearly 55 percent of French voters cast their ballots against the European constitution Sunday despite an active campaign for the yes vote by France's two largest political parties: The Union for a Popular Movement party of French President Jacques Chirac, and the opposition Socialist party.

    Late Sunday night, President Chirac appeared on national TV to confirm what the exit polls had indicated: That France had become the first European country to reject the EU charter.

    Mr. Chirac said the French had expressed their concerns and expectations during the campaign. He said he had heard them, and vowed to give what he called "a new impulse to the government's actions."

    Analysts say the French voted against the EU treaty for many reasons. Some, for example, feared they would lose generous benefits and jobs under a stronger, more free-market-oriented Europe. But many cast a protest vote against Mr. Chirac and his center-right government.

    On Sunday, Mr. Chirac said he would soon announce changes in the government. Many observers believe the first change will be the departure of his unpopular prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin. Mr. Raffarin met with the French president Monday morning at the Elysee presidential palace, possibly, analysts say, to tender his resignation.

    The short list of possible replacements includes French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin and Mr. Chirac's rival, Nicolas Sarkozy, who heads his UMP party. Analysts also consider Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie another possible candidate as the country's next prime minister.

    Sunday's rejection of the constitution amounts to one of the biggest setbacks of Mr. Chirac's marathon political career. The French president previously ruled out resigning if the constitution was rejected. But analysts believe it will likely dash the chances of 72-year-old Mr. Chirac from running for a third term in 2007.

    In an interview on France-Info radio Monday morning, Socialist party leader Francois Hollande criticized the French president, and said a government reshuffle was insufficient.

    Mr. Hollande said the French have expressed their anger toward the government in many ways. What's needed, he said, is real political change. But he said he did not believe Mr. Chirac was capable of initiating this change.

    Mr. Chirac's conservative party is not the only one in disarray. The referendum deeply divided the opposition Socialists. It pitted Mr. Hollande against the party's number two leader, Laurent Fabius. Mr. Hollande has indicated he will not step down from power.

    Now, observers are left wondering how both Mr. Chirac's conservatives and Mr. Holland's socialists will be able to rebuild their shattered ranks before presidential elections two years from now.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.