In a cock up to challenge Monsieur Hulot, Jacques Chirac's ambitions to hold a quick Constitution referendum may be stymied. Though the cold sweat of fear is pouring down his back as opinion polls continue their inexorable switch from Yes to No. It seems that there is a massive problem.
Not enough paper in France.
Being a nation of information repellents has meant that the stockpiles of paper required to produce all the posters, campaign materials, election gumpf and not least the copies of the Constitution themselves that he has promised to mail out each and every elector has meant that there is no paper in't mill.
According to Le Monde, (bad translation)
"The Interior Ministry has yet to put out the printing job to tender as required by EU rules. A print job for 45,6 million treatieseach containing of 198 pages (appendices included) to be sent to each voter. One can only guess at the time asked by the printers to deliver the 20 000 tons of treaties! The industry has already drawn the attention of the government to the absence of stocks available to provide this quantity and quality of paper from ("40 g/m2" -the thickness of the Official Journal). In comparison, printing 240 million ballot papers (two per voter, one "yes", one "no" to post and two per voter in each polling station) seems easy.
Another subject of concern: the ability of logistics companies to handle this bulky treaty (and two ballot papers "yes", "no" which will accompany it) and to label it individually. Let alone the capacity of the La Poste to distribute it (if La Poste is retained within the framework of the invitation to tender for the routing)."
"Legal work is him also far from being completed: decrees will have to be written (decrees of convocation, organization of the poll, organisation of public meetings, extension to the departments and overseas territories, etc.) and agreed by the constitutional Council. Any problems would lengthen the process. Problems of printing of the treaties, distribution, legal validity... "Why take additional risks on this poll?", asks a senior official. The Elysée Palace, states that its target is to be to be technically ready for May 1st. The pRsident will then chose between the eight Sundays which are spread before June 19. The government is dicreetly suggesting that May 22 is the inside track.
If wishes were..."
What is better, it seems that one of the preffered bidders is Deutsche Post. Which will go down a storm with all good Frenchman.
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