The majority of French wine producers and farmers said ‘No’ to the European constitution.
Despite the majority of the leading wine figures in Bordeaux backing the constitution (as reported on decanter.com), their view was not shared by smaller producers.
According to a survey by French market research company Ipsos, in conjunction with Le Figaro newspaper, 70% of agricultural workers voted No to the European referendum – compared to the 62% who rejected the Maastrict Treaty in 1992.
Not only that, but this group had the strongest turnout among all professions in the country, with 72% registering a vote. In areas such as Nimes, Montpellier and Marseille – where recent violent demonstrations have been carried out by frustrated wine makers – as many as eight out of 10 people voted No.
In Nimes, the demonstrations held a few days before the vote saw winemakers carrying ‘No’ banners and defacing European Union flags.
According to Ipsos, the majority of professionals voted yes, in the hope that the constitution would better place Europe to withstand the economic threats of the US and China.
In contrast, the discontent with the country’s economic and social situation was strongest among those in unions, with 75% of union members voting No because they believed the Constitution was too economically liberal.
The most frequently-cited reason for voting No was resistance to wider integration, which many winemakers believe would worsen the crisis by the imposition of more restrictive legislation.
As one producer in Cotes de Bourg, Bordeaux, told decanter.com, ‘I believe in Europe, but not in the Europe that this constitution would have created. The EU already sets down too many rules for wine makers.’
Throughout France, the National Syndicat of Wine Makers in Paris said, where the leaders of unions (including the wine syndicats around Bordeaux) had previously indicated they believed in a Yes vote, their members voted No.
Written by Jane Anson