In France on Sunday, Nicolas Sarkhozy has manouvered the UMP government party into supporting a referendum for the proposed EU constitution [link in French].
The decision to hold a referendum will be taken by President Jacques Chirac (anyone’s guess what that will be), but the call by the newly appointed Minister of Finance represents a shift away from automatic rubber-stamping by the French parliament.
Privately Chirac will be fuming. He hates Sarkhozy and fears his possible election in 2007 as President. Unlike the recently convicted fraudster Alain Juppé, Mr Sarkhozy might not feel inclined to whitewash the current President’s dubious financial history. Meanwhile, Alain Juppé the UMP party chairman, has endorsed Mr Sarkhozy’s call with the qualification: “within the constitutional prerogatives of the President”. Mr Juppé no doubt feels it is a good time to roll with his colleague’s punches.