France is now in the final week of its referendum campaign, and the two sides are very firmly drawn. Chirac's cronies claim the constitution defends the European (meaning French) "social model". His opponents say it institutionalises "anglo-saxon" capitalism.
Yesterday's crushing defeat for the German SPD-Green coalition in its heartland of North Rhine-Westphalia dramatically strenghthens the hands of the no campaign in France. If French voters expect free market CDU/CSU-Free Democrat coalition to be in office in Germany by the autumn, they will fear what a Anglo-German alliance committed to free enterprise and the Atlantic alliance could achieve in Europe. The German opposition did not support Schroeder's anti-American, pro-French stance over the Iraq war.
The result could easily be a strong late swing to the Non campaign in France, which will get Blair off the hook of even holding a referendum in Britain as well as Germany, under new Chancellor Angela Merkel, making a powerful addition to the pro-capitalist pro-American camp led by Britain, Italy and Poland.