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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Ratification clandestine du traité de Lisbonne

by Sébastien Crépel

Stealthy ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon.

Translated Saturday 9 February 2008, by Gene Zbikowski

Europe. The deputies of the French National Assembly debated the Lisbon Treaty last night so as to be able to vote it today, without the people having been consulted in a referendum. The French Socialist Party is relieved at what the French Communist Party denounces as a “black day” for democracy.

Would a “legitimate” (according to himself) head of state convoke his parliamentary majority in the dead of night to ratify a treaty in haste, without consulting the people? And yet, that is what happened last night, with the deputies debating the treaty barely 48 hours after having amended the French Constitution in a château de Versailles wreathed with riot police. Both the French Socialist Party (PS) and the French Communist Party (PCF) denounced the ratification in the dark of night. This is a strange way to celebrate what Jean-Pierre Jouyet, the junior minister for European affairs, described as “a very important day for France and for Europe” and as “a major action in the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.”

The PS and the right-wing parties are relieved.

Following the vote by the deputies, scheduled for this afternoon, the Senate is to consider the bill ratifying the treaty tonight, before final adoption on Friday. The government will then be able to display its concern with making the French presidency of the European Union (EU), in the second half of this year, “a civic event” to "get the French people interested again, to get them to participate,” a straight-faced Bernard Kouchner (the minister for foreign affairs) said at a government seminar dedicated to the French presidency of the EU.

President Sarkozy and the government are not the only ones that are feeling relief at seeing the 2005 “no” vote overthrown without any public debate. As the PS favors the Lisbon treaty, it revealed its queasiness by splitting at the Versailles congress, and this prevented the holding of a referendum. Among the deputies, this culminated at the Versailles congress with 91 voting against amending the constitution and only 94 adopting the “official” position of abstention. Part of the PS responded – one month before the French municipal elections – to the call by Alain Bocquet and by Nicole Cohen-Seat (PCF) not to “serve as crutches” for Nicolas Sarkozy. “The Socialists are even more divided than I expected,” wrote an astonished Pierre Moscovici in his blog. Last night, the Socialists were to table, as a matter of form, a motion in the National Assembly for the holding of a referendum – a motion that has no chance of being adopted. The deputies belonging to the Communist and Republican group, “determinedly in favor of a referendum,” were to vote the motion, but without participating in tabling it because the consider it to be a “political maneuver,” the “real opportunity having been blown” at the Versailles congress.

Is the left to turn the page?

Many Socialist elected officials now hope to “turn the page” on their internal divisions. After having favored a “no” vote on the Lisbon treaty, Laurent Fabius and members of his circle, like Didier Migaud, may abstain or not participate in the vote this afternoon. “Recourse to a referendum was a matter of principle,” said Didier Migaud, but he “will not vote against ratification” of the Lisbon treaty. “Now that the page has been turned, let us work for a Europe that is more social.” On the other hand, for Henri Emmanuelli, a partisan of a “no” vote, “the page cannot be turned so easily” because “this forced passage [of the Lisbon treaty] has left its trace. If they think that Europe can go on like this for long, without its citizens, they’re wrong.” For their part, the Communist and Republican deputies will vote against the treaty, while deploring “a black day in our history for democracy, for Europe, and for France.” In their name, Jean-Claude Sandrier was to denounce “a grave choice in the building of the European Union,” because “a European Union built without the peoples, and even against the peoples, has no future.”

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