French Socialists vote for EU constitution - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
December 2, 2004

French Socialists vote for EU constitution

-2/12/04

Officials in France's Socialist party say its members have voted "yes" in an internal referendum on whether to back the EU constitution.

Final results of the vote are not expected until Friday but an aide to the party leader, Francois Hollande, estimated that 55% of members who voted were in favour of the constitution.

France, a country seen as preventing a name check for God in the constitution - is to hold a referendum on the text in 2005.

Opinion polls show half the French are still undecided.

The news comes as more than a million people from all over Europe are set to deliver a petition to Tony Blair and fellow EU leaders calling for changes to the constitution which explicitly recognise the Christian religion in Europe's heritage.

A Christian coalition is demanding that each EU state publish its version of the constitution's preamble, with references to God if desired.

Already armed with 1,149,000 signatures and with thousands more pouring in from Holland since the murder of the film-maker Theo van Gogh, the group claims that most states want some reference to Christianity but were blocked by France.

The move is keenly backed by Pope John Paul II, who has repeatedly condemned the "moral drift" of Brussels. "One does not cut the roots to one's birthright," he told pilgrims this summer.

However, it is not being supported by more radical Christians who believe that a separation of religion and Government is desirable and point to the mistakes that institutional religion has made in the past.

Radical Christians have also pointed out that the debate over whether Christianity gets a mention has distracted focus from issues of justice and the potential implications of the constitution for the poorest in Europe.

The man leading the "no" campaign within the French Socialists, former prime minister and now deputy party leader Laurent Fabius, has said that the European Constitution is too much about free markets and competition, and too little about workers' rights or full employment.

God however has become a main focus for many with Euro-MPs voting last week to back the calls for a change in the text. Petitioners, led by Italy's International Mission Centre, will now take their case to EU governments. The current version of the preamble eschews Christianity, talking of "the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe".

Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the former French president, deliberately left the issue open when he wrote the document, inviting a petition.

"I have chosen not to insert the reference to the Christian heritage in the constitution,"he said. "Rather I appeal to you to persuade me of its necessity."

French Socialists vote for EU constitution

-2/12/04

Officials in France's Socialist party say its members have voted "yes" in an internal referendum on whether to back the EU constitution.

Final results of the vote are not expected until Friday but an aide to the party leader, Francois Hollande, estimated that 55% of members who voted were in favour of the constitution.

France, a country seen as preventing a name check for God in the constitution - is to hold a referendum on the text in 2005.

Opinion polls show half the French are still undecided.

The news comes as more than a million people from all over Europe are set to deliver a petition to Tony Blair and fellow EU leaders calling for changes to the constitution which explicitly recognise the Christian religion in Europe's heritage.

A Christian coalition is demanding that each EU state publish its version of the constitution's preamble, with references to God if desired.

Already armed with 1,149,000 signatures and with thousands more pouring in from Holland since the murder of the film-maker Theo van Gogh, the group claims that most states want some reference to Christianity but were blocked by France.

The move is keenly backed by Pope John Paul II, who has repeatedly condemned the "moral drift" of Brussels. "One does not cut the roots to one's birthright," he told pilgrims this summer.

However, it is not being supported by more radical Christians who believe that a separation of religion and Government is desirable and point to the mistakes that institutional religion has made in the past.

Radical Christians have also pointed out that the debate over whether Christianity gets a mention has distracted focus from issues of justice and the potential implications of the constitution for the poorest in Europe.

The man leading the "no" campaign within the French Socialists, former prime minister and now deputy party leader Laurent Fabius, has said that the European Constitution is too much about free markets and competition, and too little about workers' rights or full employment.

God however has become a main focus for many with Euro-MPs voting last week to back the calls for a change in the text. Petitioners, led by Italy's International Mission Centre, will now take their case to EU governments. The current version of the preamble eschews Christianity, talking of "the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe".

Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the former French president, deliberately left the issue open when he wrote the document, inviting a petition.

"I have chosen not to insert the reference to the Christian heritage in the constitution,"he said. "Rather I appeal to you to persuade me of its necessity."

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