Le Nouvel Observateur agrees, writing that “29 May is the aftershock from 21 April, 2002. It’s a new political tremor which, like its predecessor, is going to provoke the same reactions in Europe and over the world. The same shock, the same incomprehension, the same recriminations”. Spain’s El Mundo sees Europe moving back in time. “We are returning, then, to the era of national egoism and the defence of self-interest as opposed to compromise and solidarity,” it declares. “Bad news for Europe and for Spain, which until now has been one of the great beneficiaries of EU integration.”Italy’s La Stampa considers the vote more of a protest against France’s egregious political leadership than a rejection of the European project. “Every so often in its history, the French people absolutely refuse to listen to reason and revolt, killing the king,” the paper observes.Writing in the Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole looks at what the ‘No’ really means: “In the disconnected state of contemporary politics, where trust and admiration are all but gone, saying ‘Yes’ means letting the powers that be get on with whatever they have in mind for the future. It feels, not like active consent but like passive acquiescence. Saying ‘No’, rather paradoxically, feels like a positive act. It creates the temporary sensation that we are taking our collective destiny in our own hands.”Le Temps offers an interesting perspective from outside the EU, noting some similarities to Swiss referendums. “Like so many votes today in Europe and in Switzerland, this ‘No’ protests but does not propose…it is impossible to draw any clear conclusion from it, other than that of a crisis between the ‘elites’ and the ‘people’.”The International Herald Tribune’s Roger Cohen, whose weekly columns are essential reading, puzzles over what motivates French voters. “The French rejection of the constitution owed something to the xenophobic right that does not hesitate to quote Fascists like Charles Maurras, but it was above all a victory of the left,” he writes. “Socialists voted no by a clear majority, joined by a motley crew of leftists with visions of the Paris Commune, a return of 1917 or 1968, the defeat of capitalism and – somehow – full employment.” Libération calls France’s constitutional thumbs-down a “masterpiece of masochism…Voters from the left posted their cries of pain, fear, anguish and rage in the ballot boxes, faced with the world’s mad rush and the neglect of those who have been leading us for more than two decades.”Le Figaro declares that “one has to go far back into the history of our republic to find a day of equal intensity. The ‘No’ has won and everything is turned upside down.” Le Monde figures that “European construction appears to be the victim of the collateral damage inflicted by [the French presidential election of April 2002], so heavily does domestic policy appear to have weighed with French voters above and beyond European considerations”. In the Wall Street Journal Europe, Pierre Briançon offers up a scapegoat for the vote’s outcome – and it isn’t who you think. “A lot has been written over the past few weeks about the lies or demagoguery of the European constitution’s opponents in France, that ragtag gathering of the far-right National Front and the Communist Party, together with some Socialist leaders and fringe Trotskyite movements,” he writes. “But French voters didn’t vote as they did because they listened to them. They rejected the treaty because they listened to its so-called defenders. The leaders of the ‘Yes’ camp are those to blame for the treaty’s rejection.” Craig Winneker is editor of TechCentralStaion.