The French "No" through a Czech lens
After weeks of anticipation this was the result that the heads of the European Union feared most: a resounding "No" by one of the union's founding members, France, rejecting the constitution. Pundits say the French had many different reasons for voting against, including disillusionment with the country's president. But the fact is following Sunday the future of the treaty - and European integration as a whole - is in doubt.
"I think it is - without any doubt - an earthquake in the ratification but I would go further. I think this result could have serious consequences for the entire project of European integration."
In the Czech Republic, where the constitution has yet to be ratified, the government has already firmly pledged to see the constitution passed - despite the French "No." The Deputy prime minister for Economic Affairs, Martin Jahn thinks that the French have made a mistake.
The government thinks that there is still hope for the constitution but it will not have it easy. Long-time opponents of the treaty include Czech President Vaclav Klaus, as well as the country's strongest opposition party, the Civic Democrats. Civic Democrat and European Parliament member Jan Zahradil says that after Sunday the treaty is dead.
Whether Czechs will themselves still get to decide on the treaty at all is now an open question. The country is nowhere near adopting a referendum bill on the issue, and in the wake of the French vote, the opposition Civic Democrats have made clear they will not be ones to support it. As for the future of the EU, the French "No", as well as a possible rejection in the Netherlands later this week, would make it a whole new ball game. Analyst Jiri Pehe once again:
"If the Dutch do not approve the constitution I think we will see strong pressure to discontinue the ratification process in other countries. It is difficult to imagine that two countries, one of them a major European power, would be sort of asked to 'correct' their decision one or two years from now. The Dutch 'No' could have serious consequences - it could be the last stop. "
Radio Prague: if indeed the constitution is rejected in Holland as well, what kind of crisis are we in? How long would it take before representatives came back to the table to try and find a new framework for an expanded EU?