Andrew Sullivan, himself a British American, thinks a 'no' vote may be right even if it's for the wrong reasons:
'It's worth celebrating what seems to be the simple refusal of most French to go along with the monolithic policy of literally every elite institution in the country. Recall: almost every mainstream party in France is in favor of the E.U. constitution; the government and the opposition agree; no mainstream newspaper is urging non - and yet the public is still telling them to go shove it. This has got to be healthy. I'm not counting out the oui forces yet; but what we are watching is a kind of democratic protest. It may have less to do with the constitution itself than with the way in which the EU has made people feel powerless over their own destinies. The E.U. will survive a no-vote. European democracy will be deeply strengthened by a no.'
The French are, of course, a very strange country in the sense that the elitist organization of their schooling system makes them the only European country with a strong class system, comparable to that which the British Empire used to have in the 19th century. Although the French implementation is much more subtle, it's nevertheless there and it is very hard to get around. I've seen acquaintances crash and burn because they were not born in the right families or did not have the proper connections to get into the 'right' schools, although they were more than qualified. I suspect France may be facing some very tumultuous years as it moves towards a more meritocratic model.
As far as the Netherlands are concerned: in the past few days I've often wondered what worries Dutch politicians most: that a majority is considering to vote 'no', or that the country is finally engaged in the most intense political debate since the assassination of Pim Fortuyn. Indeed, the one thing that seemed to annoy most politicians about Fortuyn is that they suddenly had to debate issues which a large part of the electorate had wanted to address for years, and thanks to Fortuyn, they no longer could avoid it (though Ad Melkert famously tried).
I've felt strangely hopeful for the past few weeks, as the voice of dissent gradually increased in strength, that the tide may indeed be turning, and that this is the first step towards a better way of governing, in which politicians rule on behalf of the people rather than over them from a pedestal of feigned moral superiority.
Then again, just this afternoon I was accused, not for the first time, of being an unrealistically optimistic and idealistic person, so I'm probably wrong ;).
Off to bed now, after seven consecutive nights with no more than four hour sleep each.