The Netherlands has followed the French lead by voting down the EU Constitution with a crushing 62% no vote (see the BBC report here). It may not be dead, but the European constitution is at least very, very sick.

Back in France, the referendum has, as expected, cost Prime Minister Raffarin his job. His replacement is the loyal Chiracian Dominique de Villepin, but that appointment was balanced by the return of party president Nicolas Sarkozy as his deputy. Sarkozy is the archetypical young turk: unconventional, dynamic, and seen as siding more with Britain and the US – much as Chirac himself was 30 years ago. The wily old president is trying to have a bet each way.

While attention has focused mostly on the problems of the French right, a closer look at the figures suggests that the left has just as much to worry about. At least the right follows its leadership; among supporters of the UMP (the centre-right governing party), exit polls show that 76% voted for the constitution. But although the opposition Socialists were supporting it as well, 59% of their voters said “no”.

Voting statistics
give the same message: the best regions for the “yes” vote are nearly always the strongest for the UMP in last year’s regional elections.

Exit polls also gave a fascinating picture of people’s reasons for voting no. Here’s my translation of the results published in Le Monde:

Among the following reasons, which most inclined you to vote no?

  • The treaty will aggravate unemployment in France – 46%
  • I want to say that I’m fed up with the current state of things – 40%
  • A “no” will allow the treaty to be renegotiated – 35%
  • The treaty is too liberal – 34%
  • The treaty is particularly hard to understand – 34%

We’re not told whether there was an option for “dislike the whole idea of European integration,” but those who do think that way will be feeling pretty happy today.