Sunday, February 20, 2005

Madrid – Spain today will be the first of the European Union nations over the next few years to vote on the treaty establishing a EU constitution. The referendum being held, one of 9 confirmed by member countries, is expected to draw 40 to 50% of Spain’s 35 million voters.

Polling stations have been opening since 0800 UTC, with a small stream of people casting their ballot. The question on the ballot paper is:

“┬┐Aprueba usted el Tratado por el que se establece una Constituci├│n para Europa?” (“Do you approve the treaty establishing a constitution for Europe?”)

It is expected that a yes vote will come from the referendum, though the referendum is non-binding, with parliament having the final say.

However, despite constant media bombardment, as many as 90% of Spaniards are unsure of the content of the constitution, according to a government poll.

Spain has been a member of the European Union since 1986 and has received large amounts of development grants and subsidies. Since joining, it has grown into one of biggest economies in Europe and the world.