July 10, 2005

Luxembourg leans to Yes on EU charter-first results

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - First partial results showed
Luxembourg voters leaning toward backing the European Union's
troubled constitution in a referendum on Sunday.

By 1311 GMT, results from 21 percent of constituencies
showed 57.7 percent backed the charter while 42.3 percent
opposed, according to the government's official Web Site.

The results are not yet representative, because they do not
include the outcome of the key constituencies of les Villes de
Luxembourg and d'Esch-sur-Alzette, which are expected around
4:00 pm (1400 GMT).

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who also
chairs the group of countries sharing the euro, has said he
will quit if the charter is rejected, a move aimed at reversing
gains of the "No" camp in the traditionally pro-EU small Duchy.

The last opinion poll on June 9 showed support for the
constitution, designed to make EU decision-making more
efficient after the bloc's enlargement last year, declined to
55 percent from 59 percent in May while opposition rose to 45

Juncker has said that a "Yes" in Luxembourg would offer a
glimmer of hope for the constitution after it was resoundingly
rejected in French and Dutch referendums, but most diplomats
believe the charter is already dead.

The charter cannot go ahead unless it is ratified by all 25
member states, either in a referendum or parliamentary vote.

The June EU summit decided on a long period of reflection
on the constitution after the two failed referendums, prompting
some member states to suspend the treaty's ratification

Voting stations closed at 2:00 p.m. in Luxembourg, the
Grand Duchy sandwiched between Germany, France and Belgium with
a population of 465,000.

So far, 12 EU members have ratified the constitution.

Luxembourg is Europe's richest country in terms of gross
domestic product per head -- 52,600 euros a year, twice that of
Germany and France -- thanks to its flourishing banking sector.

A deeply Catholic country, the prospect of Muslim Turkey
joining the EU has been used by the "No" campaigners in the
same way as by the right in the French and Dutch referendums.