European Constitution

I spent the Easter weekend in France. But if I thought that I would escape politics, I was wrong. Their Presidential elections are now in full swing.

In a nearby town, the frontrunner, Nicolas Sarkozy, caused a sensation with an Easter visit. "This is my favourite region", he declared. I had the strong suspicion that many other regions will be declared his favourite before the first vote on 22 April.

One of the election issues is the European Union. The three leading candidates all campaigned for a "yes" vote on the referendum on the EU constitution (remember that? A European president, army etc). Fortunately, the French people thought better and voted no.

These democratic decisions are of great irritation to Europe's ruling elite. Mr Sarkozy has therefore concluded that it would be better not to ask the people again. In the words of the former French President, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, it was a mistake to use a referendum, but mistakes could be corrected.

The socialist candidate, Segolene Royal, is wrong about most things, and she still wants the constitution, but at least she has promised to put it to the vote. In fact, her proposals for participative democracy, for instance through local votes on budgets, are rather interesting.

Whoever leads France, the constitution is gathering momentum again. The Italian Prime Minister wants it back. So does the German Chancellor.

The issue could be discussed at the next EU summit in June. Tony Blair is determined to go, even in the dying days of his premiership, which is making Gordon Brown furious. Neither of them will say whether they will stick to a referendum.

Everyone else has made their position clear. David Cameron has said that a referendum must be held if the constitution re-emerges. I think it's time we heard whether the Government trusts the people to decide, or not.

Michelle Taylor