The Freeman's Burden:

To defend the principles of human liberty; to educate; to be vigilant against the ever expanding power of the state.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Posted by Hello


French President Jacques Chirac has had bad days before, but probably not this bad. French voters today handed the "oui" camp on the European Constitution a stinging rebuke as 75-80% of France's eligible voters turned out to reject the document and reject Chirac's leadership on this most pivotal of European issues. Chirac has said that he will not resign, but the fate of the daring and brilliant classical liberal reformer and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is all but sealed. Raffarin has been trying since taking office to reform France's huge and inefficient public welfare system and implement market reforms and into the socialist economy. Apparently a large enough of the French population sees the scraps they receive from the state as reason enough to reject the reforms that would likely have lowered France's crippling unemployment and gotten the perpetually stalled economy back on track. For the US, the rejection is a mixed blessing. Less competition from Europe can be both a help and a hindrance to American producers and consumers. Chirac will also likely name current Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin as the new PM. Villepin was the foreign minister who worked vigorously to scuttle any UN resolution condoning the Iraq war. As for the fate of the EU, it's hard to say. On balance, this was a defeat for economic reform in France and the dream of a united Europe across the continent. The winners are Jean-Marie Le Pen, the protectionist right-wing nut who argued against ratification on nationalist grounds and the communist, bureaucrats and trade unions who worried that economic reform and liberalization would lead to an erosion of their relative power. Read more on the French "non" vote here.


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