Update I: Participation rates at 19:00 have just been released: 66,24 %. This means that it will surely clearly surpass the Maastricht final participation of 69,69 %. The poll estimates are talking about a final participation of 75%. This is big for a topic which many said was ‘abstract’. In Spain, the particpation was in the mid forties. The majority of polling stations close at 20:00 (in 40 minutes) but in Paris and Lyon they close at 22:00.
Well it’s a beautiful hot & sunny spring day here in Barcelona. I’ve got my web-radio tuned to France Inter (France Info) and I’m working quietly away updating some things on my website. I think today is an important day for Europe, and I’m going to be blogging live as the news comes in.
The first detail is some information about participation released at mid-day by the French interior Ministry. By 12:00 25.08% of the electorate had voted. This is high when compared with recent elections and with the Maastricht referendum in 1992. (For Maastricht the equivalent figure was 20.39%, it was 13.62% for the last European elections in 2004, whilst it was 21.4 in the first round of the last presidential elections in 2002)
Among those who have already participated is Jaques Chirac. His Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has not been so lucky, a protest demonstration about the proposed route of a high speed train outside the polling booth is delaying his entry.
In total 42 million French citizens can vote, voting closes at 20:00, and we should know the result at 22:00.
One thing is sure the French are voting in large numbers. Difficult to say who will benefit from the high participation. Normally the left benefit from high participation levels, more left voters favour the ‘no’, so this could clinch it for the ‘no’ vote. But then again, I am guessing, and could be completely wrong (please correct me if you have reason to think I’m wrong).
Anyway, we’ll know soon enough.