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A majority of French would prefer to have a referendum on the newly agreed EU treaty, rather than a parliamentary ratification as decided by president Nicolas Sarkozy, a fresh survey has shown.

Some 61 percent of those asked would like to have a referendum on the treaty, while 31 percent agree that ratification by parliament is the better route, according to a CSA poll for Monday's (29 October) edition of French daily Le Parisien.

However, more than half of the respondents - 52 percent - said they would abstain or vote blank if a referendum on the treaty took place.

Among the remaining half, 68 percent would vote in favour of the text, while 32 percent would reject it.

In a referendum in May 2005, almost 55 percent of the French voted against the EU constitution. Then Dutch voters rejected the text a few days later.

This time president Sarkozy has opted for parliamentarian ratification. He has indicated he would like France to be among the first member states to ratify the treaty early next year, so that the country sets a new example.

Not all politicians in France are in favour on parliamentary ratification, however, with French socialist leader Francois Hollande stating that if Segolene Royal, the socialist candidate during the last presidential elections, had become president, the French would have been asked to vote on the treaty.

Laurent Fabius, one of the socialists leading the campaign against the EU constitution two years ago, told Le Parisien Dimanche on Sunday (28 October) that "what was decided by referendum can only be re-examined by referendum".

"Another procedure would not be really democratic", he added.

Mr Fabius also expressed hope that the socialists could unite around this position, as "I don't see how one could approve a denial of democracy".

But other prominent socialists - such as Jacques Lang - have stated a referendum is "not necessary".

The French socialist party, which was split during the constitution vote in 2005, would now like to come up with a common position by the time of the ratification of the recently agreed Lisbon treaty.

Rejecting the document appears not to be an option, but some quarters of the party have spoken out in favour of abstaining or even boycotting the vote.

The socialists are set to decide on the matter next week.


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