French President Jacques Chirac is preparing for a high-profile television appearance to try to boost uncertain prospects for French ratification of the European Union constitution.

Mr. Chirac will open his public campaign for the constitution this Thursday evening in a televised debate with an audience of 80 young voters. His appearance follows a string of opinion polls that have shown French voters planning to reject the constitution in a referendum on May 29.

Pollsters say opponents plan to vote against the constitution to highlight their fear of Turkish EU membership or to register their discontent with Mr. Chirac's socio-economic policies.

Some critics say the constitution could cost French jobs and destroy the country's social welfare system.

The constitution, aimed at streamlining EU decision-making, requires ratification by all of the union's 25 member states to take effect.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.