Eurobarometer: French and Dutch voters did not say No to Europe

The latest Eurobarometer survey looks behind the figures after the French and Dutch referenda on the Constitution in an attempt to shed light on why citizens voted as they did.

The failed referenda signalled a turning point in the European construction process, which is also held up by an increasingly bitter wrangling over the Union’s budget for the 2007-2013 period. Europe-wide, the public tends to increasingly identify the Union with too much economic liberalism, and there is also a perceptible dissatisfaction with Brussels and a growing resentment to the EU’s enlargement.

According to Eurobarometer, the majority of those who supported the Constitution were aged 55 or older (54% of all voters in France and 48% of all voters in the Netherlands).

  • Among those who voted Yes, the most often cited spontaneous explanation was that the Constitution is "essential in order to pursue the European construction (France: 39%, Netherlands: 24%)
  • Among those who voted No, the relative majority of French citizens cited their fear of the Constitution's harmful effect on employment (31%) and the current status of their country's economy and the labour market (26%). Many French voters who chose Non also thought that the Constitution was "too liberal" (19%) or not "social" enough (16%). Among the Nee voters in Holland, the relative majority cited "lack of information" (32%) and they also cited their fear of a loss of national sovereignty (19%) or complained about the cost of Europe for taxpayers (13%)
  • In the Eurobarometer samples, 88% of the French and 82% of the Dutch respondents voiced their conviction that EU membership was a good thing. At the same time, while the French (along with the Spanish) widely support the notion of a Constitution for Europe being essential for European construction, the Dutch are far less convinced and most of them disagree
  • Overall, opinions on the European institutions are fairly negative: while 53% of the French saw them in a positive light, 61% of the Dutch respondents saw them in a negative light

Elsewhere in the EU, public support for the Constitution is on the wane too. In Portugal, a recent poll showed that 49.2% of the citizens would vote against the Constitution. Popular support for the Yes camp is decreasing in Luxembourg and Denmark. Both countries aim to hold a referendum on the issue in July and September, respectively. Some 57% of the public in Poland would support the Constitution, down from over 60% in May. Recent surveys in the Czech Republic and Ireland also show a slump in public support.

In recent popular votes, the citizens of France and the Netherlands rejected the EU's new proposed Constitution. The vote was 54.8% against in France on 29 May, and 61.6% against in the Netherlands on 1 June. 

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Measure co-financed by the European Union

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