NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: EJ878395
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 31
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1085-4568
France Says "Non": Elites, Masses and the Defeat of the European Constitutional Treaty
Nossiter, Jason
Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, v16 p91-121 Spr 2008
On Sunday, May 29, 2005, the French Republic endured one of the greatest political shocks in its recent history. By a wide margin, the TCE (Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe) was defeated in a referendum, effectively paralyzing the process of European political integration while simultaneously crippling both the ruling Union Pour le Mouvement Populaire (UMP) party and the opposition Parti Socialiste (PS), and forcing the resignation of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's three-year old government. At the heart of the confusion and acrimony that inspired French voters to reject the treaty lies a gap between the attitudes and programs of the French political elite and the values and expectations of the French masses. The French gap is noteworthy because it was so clearly illustrated by the referendum's failure. While other countries may have leaders and programs that are unpopular with the people but subsist nonetheless, there are very few examples of a population so forcefully rejecting such a seminal policy initiative endorsed by both governing and opposition parties. In investigating the existence and nature of the mass-elite gap, the author aims to conceptualize a reality that seems to fall by the wayside in the contemporary political science literature. While the literature disagrees on a single causal mechanism for voter behavior in EU integration referendums, there is a general consensus on three central factors being at the heart of voter choice in these scenarios: (1) voter preference (issue positions and ideology); (2) party affiliation; and (3) political climate. In this article, the author discusses representation and democracy after the TCE referendum, the role of public opinion in the French referendum campaign, and how certain aspects of the nature of public opinion can explain the outcome of the referendum. He also discusses the behavior of voters in the French referendum and how France and the TCE became a divided house along mass-elite lines. Finally, the author presents the normative implications of Europe's affair with the TCE and the implications of a crisis of representation. (Contains 33 notes.)
Frontiers Journal. Dickinson College P.O. Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013. Tel: 717-254-8858; Fax: 717-245-1677; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: France