Richard North, 25/03/2005  

Fifty-five percent of French voters are now opting to deep-six the EU constitution, according to the poll for the weekly Marianne magazine, to be published on Saturday.

This is the third consecutive poll showing a majority for "les nons" and, despite Chirac's histrionics over the services directive, it shows an increased majority against the constitution.

The breakthrough came just over a week ago when le Parisien reported 51 percent had turned against the treaty, followed a few days later by the Ipsos poll for for Le Figaro, which showed 52 percent.

Interestingly, opposition to Turkey's possible EU entry remains one of the main reasons cited by those in the "no" camp, with a desire for EU policy to have a "social dimension" close behind. However, twenty percent of "no" respondents said they would use the referendum as a chance to cast a protest vote against Chirac.

As with the previous polls, half said they would either abstain, cast blank ballots, or remained undecided.

The campaign is due to go up a gear after Easter as Chirac has pledged to take a greater part in the proceedings. But, with l'escroc's current unpopularity, this could prove a mixed blessing.

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