Lessons in Politicking


At last, the real reason why the French voted against the EU constitution:

A crucial turning point for the fate of the constitution in France came last March, Mr. Giscard d'Estaing said, when he phoned Mr. Chirac to warn him not to send the entire three-part, 448-article document to every French voter. The third and longest part consisted only of complicated treaties that have already been in force for years.

He said Mr. Chirac refused, citing legal reasons. "I said, 'Don't do it, don't do it,' " Mr. Giscard d'Estaing said. "It is not possible for anyone to understand the full text."

Pardon? While some might interpret M. d'Estaing's remark as an expression of contempt for the average citizen, I think the key word here is "anyone." The authors of the EU constitution undoubtedly created something so sublime that even they had to avert their eyes in deference to its brilliance. Who indeed could understand the full text?

Meanwhile, Chirac deserves bonus points for sending a three-volume edition of the charter to every voter. Maybe he could have driven down the "oui" vote even more by assigning book reports. (Story here; link via Crooked Timber.)

A year ago in Reason, Michael Young had premonitions about the difficulties of European unification.