France’s vote in the European Constitutional Treaty was, above all, a protest against the forces of economic globalization. The “NO” voters thought that by rejecting a set of technical amendments to European rules they could hold back a threatening future. The French elites who supported the “Yes” are devastated.
This “No” is a rejection of the text, of Europe, of the liberal way of life and of Jacques Chirac. Fear of the future is always an important political force. Europe will go on as before but European politicians will waste more time soft-pedaling globalization than explaining it to their people.
Chirac will be the main victim of the May 29 vote. His mistakes go beyond his decision to put the constitution to a vote, although it was not necessary. Chirac’s real failure was his inability over ten years in power to show the French that it was necessary to make changes in order to preserve their way of life. Chirac never dared to tell the French that they could not maintain their living standards and keep the rigid rules of the labor market.
This is what Chirac’s probable successor, Nicolas Sarkozy has understood. Unfortunately, the French do not trust the suggested “Anglo-Saxon model”. It is understandable that the French say “No” to Chirac but they should say “Yes” to a politician who will allow them to build a bridge into the future.

Source
Washington Post (United States)
Korea Herald (South Korea)

Chirac’s Failure To Lead”, by David Ignatius, Washington Post, May 30, 2005.
French voters cannot have it both ways”, Korea Herald, May 31, 2005.