In the face of an arrogant old regime, the winds of democracy can be liberating. And not just in the Middle East. Whatever the outcome of the French and Dutch referendums, the debate about the European Constitutional Treaty and the possibility of a “No” vote, represented a liberating experience for the Europeans.
Let us leave aside the dubious merits of the text that even the traditionally pro-European The Economist rejects for its centralizing nature. Anyway, the debate had nothing to do with it but with confidence in the elites. It is hard for an American to appreciate how out-of-touch the European elites are. For example, let us recall that Valéry Giscard d’Estaing affirmed that his 448-article constitution was easily read ->]. The Dutch Minister for European Affairs, a supporter of the text, at least acknowledged that too many important decisions regarding Europe had been made without consulting the people.
The referendums opened up the prospect for a wider debate about the failure of Europe’s welfare states, about the obstacles for growth and mobility, about the failures of immigration policies, about European anti-Americanism and the European Union’s inaction in the promotion of democracy and freedom around the world. Right now, we could compare Europe to the United States of the early 1990s, just before Rudolph Giuliani, Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich put things in place in the American political life. Today, Nicolas Sarkozy and other European neoconservative and neo-liberal leaders embody the so much expected European political renovation.
The “No” offers the possibility of a new hope in Europe. Vive la France ! [1]

Weekly Standard
Weekly of reference for the neoconservatives.

" A New Europe? ", by William Kristol, Weekly Standard, June 6, 2005.

[1In French in the original.