French would back EU treaty in referendum - poll

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PARIS, Oct 29 (Reuters) Most French people want a referendum on the European Union treaty and would vote yes, a poll showed today, in a sign voters may have warmed to Europe since rejecting the constitution in 2005.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to ask parliament to ratify the treaty, which aims to reform the 27-nation bloc's institutions, before the end of this year. Opposition politicians are calling for a referendum.

The CSA poll for Le Parisien daily said 61 per cent of French people thought the treaty should be put to a referendum and only 31 per cent thought parliamentary ratification was sufficient.

If it was put to a public vote 68 per cent of voters would support the treaty, 32 per cent would vote no, the poll showed.

EU leaders reached agreement on the document in Lisbon earlier this month ending a crisis sparked by Dutch and French voters' rejection of the European constitution in 2005. France rejected the constitution with 54.68 percent of the vote.

The treaty will give the European Union a long-term president, a more powerful foreign policy chief, more democratic decision-making and more say for European and national parliaments.

The 2005 referendum caused a split in France's opposition Socialist party, with some senior party members urging rejection, while others voted in favour of it.

Francois Hollande, the Socialist Party leader, said today his party would not oppose the treaty when it is put to a parliamentary vote although he would rather have a referendum.

REUTERS SKB RK1740

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