We are looking at a Lisbon Treaty. Let’s take a look at one of its principle architects, Valéry Marie René Georges Giscard d'Estaing.
Today’s France, a democratic and republican nation, Europe’s first, was born out of the revolution of 1789, when the people stood against an unaccountable, expensive and ineffective system of governance.
Among those were killed in the struggle for liberty and equality was a good man, Vice Admiral Jean Baptiste Charles Henri Hector, Comte d'Estaing.
In 1922 a Monsieur Giscard added "d'Estaing" to the family name because of a rather dubious and distant connection.
Monsieur Giscard "d'Estaing’s" son Jean Edmond married Mademoiselle Marthe Bardoux – herself a great-great-great-granddaughter of King Louis XV through one of his many, many mistresses, Catherine Eléonore Bernard.
In a more amusing look at family history we consider Louis XV "le Bien-Aimé" ("the Beloved") was popular at the beginning his reign.
But he died amongst the most unpopular kings of France.
His lack of morals, inability to effectively reform France and the Monarchy, and the most dismal humiliating diplomatic failing in French history – the loss of North America and India - lost him the affection of his people.
Louis XV was notoriously promiscuous. Now, every man needs a hobby, and he certainly did it with elan. Some mistresses like Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry are as well-known as the king himself, and his affairs with three Mailly-Nesle sisters are documented by the formal agreements into which he entered.
In his later years, Louis XV kept several young mistress’ at a time in secluded living quarters known as the Parc aux Cerfs ("Deer Park"), one of whose inhabitants was the daughter of Daniel O' Murphy - Marie-Louise O' Murphy de Boisfaily, immortalized in a magnificent painting by Boucher.
Another Irish connection was the first person to adversely affect the Kings popularity. Monsignor de Fitz-James, premier aumônier, refused to give absolution unless the king renounced his mistress’. The confession was publicly announced, tarnishing the monarchy. Nevertheless, Louis XV soon returned to his adulterous ways.
The descendent of one of those trysts – a Great-great-great-great-grandson was none other than the man who was the principle architect of the Lisbon Constitution – Valéry Marie René Giscard d'Estaing - His name is often shortened to "Giscard" or even "VGE" by the French media. A less flattering nickname is l'Ex
Giscard was elected to parliament in 1956 with the conservative CNIP. They broke with the Gaullists in 1962 due to the euro-skepticism of President Charles De Gaulle; to hold onto power Giscard supported De Gaulle’s euro-skepticism, refused to resign and founded the Républicains Indépendants (RI). Relations with the Gaullists tensed when Giscard d'Estaing was dismissed from the cabinet in 1966 the group became a political party Fédération Nationale des Républicains Indépendants (FNRI)
In the 1969 presidential campaign, VGE supported the winning candidate Georges Pompidou and returned to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
He was seen as part of a new generation of politicians emerging from the senior civil service, the technocrats.
Giscard fought socialist Mitterrand. Supported by his FNRI and benefiting from the divisions in the Gaullist party and defeated Mitterrand with only 50.8% of the vote to become Président de la République in 1974.
BIG BUSINESS BUDDIES
In 1975, he invited the heads of government from major economic powers West Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA to form the Group of Six (now the G8) major economic powers.
This select gang, promoting Reganite/Thatcherite unregulated market policies have in recent years bought the entire world to the brink of economic meltdown in recent years which does not engender confidence in Giscard’s long term view.
He supported the corrupt Mokhtar Ould Daddah, a man who in 1961 bought a one party system to Mauritania and was reelected in uncontested elections in 1966, 1971 and 1976.
Giscard ordered fighter jets to deploy in Mauritania in 1977. They propped up the Mauritanian army – mostly forcibly conscripted black Africans from the south of the country. The jets bombed and strafed the camel trains of Polisario freedom fighters in their struggle against military occupation. Daddah was eventually deposed.
THE EMPEROR ROBS
They say you are judged by the company you keep. Most disturbing is VGE's involvement with the Bokassa regime of the Central African Republic (CAR) whose rich soil has uranium vital for France's nuclear energy and weapons programs.
There is probably a piece of CAR on the bottom of the Pacific near Mururoa.
The Central African Republic is also rich in diamonds – and blood.
Giscard supplied the regime of his "friend and family member” Emperor Bokassa I with financial and military backing.
His Highness frequently took Giscard on hunting trips in Africa
A former corporal in the French army Jean-Bédel Bokassa came to power in 1965 overthrowing his cousin David Dacko with the support of Alexandre Banza, an intelligent, ambitious and capable army captain.
In 1968 Banza tired the new President's extravagant spending. Bokassa murdered him.
Le Monde reported that Banza was killed in circumstances "so revolting that it still makes one's flesh creep….Two versions concerning the end circumstances of his death differ on one minor detail. Did Bokassa tie him to a pillar before personally carving him with a knife that he had previously used for stirring his coffee in the gold-and-midnight blue Sevres coffee set, or was the murder committed on the cabinet table with the help of other persons?
Late that afternoon, soldiers dragged a still identifiable corpse, with the spinal column smashed, from barrack to barrack to serve as an example”
In 1972 Bokassa declared himself President for Life of CAR but not content with this in 1977 and with an incredibly expensive imperial coronation ceremony Corporal Jean-Bédel became Emperor Bokassa I.
At over 20 million dollars the coronation consumed one third of the impoverished CAR's annual budget and all of France's aid that year.
Despite growing concern about human rights abuses Giscard sent a battalion of troops to secure the ceremony; lent aircraft to the Emperor’s government, and even assigned French Navy personnel to support the orchestra of the land locked state.
Giscard’s fraternal feelings for Bokassa were perhaps eroded after riots and a massacre of children. Between 17 April and 19 April 1979 elementary school students were arrested for protests against wearing the expensive, government-required school uniforms that were only sold by a company that belonged to one of his 17 wives. Around one hundred were killed.
According to Amnesty International's report, Bokassa was personally involved with some of the killings beating some of the children to death.
A coup using French troops returned Bokassa’s deposed cousin to power later that year.
Rumours still abound that he ate body parts from opponents himself.
Even if these allegations of cannibalism are untrue, there is plenty of evidence of the extreme brutality of Bokassa's rule. Political rivals were murdered or tortured, and he certainly fed opponents to lions and crocodiles in his personal zoo.
DODGY DIAMONDS GEEZER
In a related incident, 1979, Giscard was reported by the Canard Enchaîné to have accepted diamonds as personal gifts in 1973 from Bokassa — who fled the coup to France with looted millions from the Central African Republic's treasury, but was still given asylum under rules concerning service in the French military.
Official gifts legally are property of the Republic of France, not the office holder.
KING OF THE CASTLE
In 2005, perhaps inspired by his friend the Emperor, Giscard and his brother with support from the local municipality, purchased the castle of Estaing, Aveyron - formerly a possession alleged relative Admiral d'Estaing. A number of major newspapers in several countries questioned their motives and some hinted at self-appointed nobility and Grand Pere’s usurped historical identity.
I suppose that the other, actual, ancestral pile, Versailles, was not on the market.
In another delusion of grandeur in 2003, Giscard took a seat on the Académie Française; critics pointed out that he had written only a single novel, Le Passage, of dubious quality – this acceptance is particularly inappropriate when one remembers the seat he took belonged to the Senegals magnificent poet and President Leopold Sedar Senghor, one of Africa’s most important intellectuals and leaders.
Louis XV took time out for the first drawing and quartering seen in France for 147 years, and the last example of this barbaric practice in France.
Although Giscard said he had "deep aversion against capital punishment" he did not commute several death sentences during his presidency. As with his ancestor he oversaw the last executions of a type in France, this time using the guillotine.
The controversial case of Christian Ranucci, convicted of murder, raises doubts. Giscard refused to commute the death penalty only ten days after the case's arrival to his office, much quicker than the usual clemency process.
A book by respected journalist Gilles Perrault disputed Ranucci’s involvement in the crime. In 2005, other new claims were made that Michel Fourniret, a serial killer who murdered at least 9 girls had something to do with this case and could have been the real murderer.
By not abolishing the death penalty he kept France as the last country in the EU to apply it. The death penalty finally abolished when socialist Mitterrand defeated Giscard in 1981.
FAILURE IN FRANCE
After his 1981 defeat by Mitterrand, he retired temporarily from politics.
In 1984, he regained his seat in Parliament and won the presidency of the regional council of Auvergne.
A la Vladimir Putin Giscard hoped to become prime minister of France after the re-election of Mitterrand with the theme of "France united", but he was not chosen for this position.
In 1995 Giscard suffered a humiliating defeat when he was defeated in a bid for the mayoralty of Clermont-Ferrand.
Following yet another defeat in the regional elections 2004, he decided to leave partisan politics and to take his seat as a de jure member of the French Constitutional Council as a former president of the Republic.
Some of his actions there, such as his campaign in favor of the Treaty establishing the European Constitution, were criticized as unbecoming to a member of this council, which should embody nonpartisanship and should not appear to favor one political option over the other.
Indeed, the question of the membership of former presidents in the Council was raised at this point, with some suggesting that it should be replaced by a life membership in the Senate
Giscard has generally been seen as a proponent of greater European Union (except of course when it was politically expedient support a Euro-skeptic government and retain power)
From 2002 to 2003, a period when he could not get elected Mayor of Clermont-Ferrand or to the local council he served as President of the Convention on the Future of Europe.
In October 2004, the European heads of state, gathered in Rome, approved and signed the now democratically rejected European Constitution based on a draft strongly influenced by Giscard 's work at the Convention.
Giscard told MEP’s that the Lisbon Treaty is essentially the same as the rejected EU Constitution.
"What was [already] difficult to understand will become utterly incomprehensible, but the substance has been retained… Why not have a single text?
The only reason is that this would look too much like the constitutional treaty. Making cosmetic changes would make the text more easy to swallow"
Giscard wrote in The Independent of London in 2007
"The difference between the original Constitution and the present Lisbon Treaty is one of approach, rather than content ... The proposals in the original constitutional treaty are practically unchanged….Why this subtle change? Above all, to head off any threat of referenda by avoiding any form of constitutional vocabulary”
In an interview with Le Monde in June 2007, he stated that
"public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals we dare not present to them directly"
Regardless of the peoples choice he is determined on pushing through HIS Lisbon treaty/constitution - by hook, crook or title
In February 2009 Giscard told the Irish Times that the Irish should hold a second Lisbon Treaty referendum in late April, or early May – and not October, as this would occur
“at the moment when the new European Commission will be chosen for a five-year term...Until the Irish answer, people will not know whether it is to be 17 or 27, so there will be confusion”
The basic problem here is that there is no confusion.
We the people want 27 commissioners, one for each EU member - Giscard still wants only 17. Despite the promises that we have received on a commissioner Giscard maintained his long-held objections to each member state having a commissionership.
We also want a clearer treaty dealing with the issues that concern us, not what a technocrat believes is of concern to us.
Giscard in the same interview using the normal untrue Yes campaign scare tactics he implied that the EU big states will combine together and sideline all EU small member states if Ireland rejects the treaty a second time.
He admitted that
“the process was a difficult one in terms of democratic support”
This much is true, and despite the comprehensive rejection by French and Dutch citizens in 2005 Giscard continued to actively lobby for its passage in other European Union states.
In the LSE in 2006, he said that:
"The rejection of the Constitutional treaty by voters in France was a mistake that should be corrected."
Judging by the department map of the result, that would have taken an enormous correction, so Sarkozy ratified it without going to the people.
Giscard has also said
“It is difficult to ask citizens to approve a text that they cannot fully understand”.
The problem for him is that most of the Irish do.
The Irish are amongst the most politically astute and aware people in Europe.
In the last European Parliament elections 2009 Irelands turnout was nearly 59%.
The EU average was 43%, France had below 41%
Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said in June 2009 “Everybody says we do not know enough about Europe…..I can tell you in my humble opinion that the ordinary people of Ireland know a damn sight more about the intricacies of the European framework than nearly all the members of the other 27 states”
Giscard has been rejected by the French as a leader. Despite democratic rejection by the French and Dutch of his constitution, and the rejection of the treaty by the Irish which he himself states is de facto the same document he continues to push it - we need to ask why?
Giscard is a spent force in French politics. He cannot even get elected Mayor of a minor French town or the local administration.
This is his last chance at a lasting legacy. The Lisbon treaty is as much a vanity project as his Castle and his membership of the Académie française and as vain as the coronation of his “friend and family member” Corporal Bokassa.
L’Ex’s commentary about the Irish political process is as illegitimate as his name or his Great-great-great-grandmother, and it’s not welcome.
The Irish are the only nation in the EU holding a referendum on the treaty – despite Giscard’s stated desire to head off this democratic danger to his vanity project.
In 1745 at a terrible cost Irishmen played a vital role in saving Louis XV and France from the Austro-Hungarians Hapsburg Empire and its allies at the Battle of Fontenoy. The banner above under which they fought for France, Louis XV and Ireland says In hoc signo vinces is the rendition in Latin of the Greek phrase en touto nika, meaning "in this sign you will conquer".
In a bizarre twist of fate we find ourselves in the position of defending French democracy from a descendent of the Hapsburg aristocracy, the current Elysee Palace resident Nicolas Sarközy (de Nagy-Bocsa) whose father was a Hungarian aristocrat.
This is a man who pushed through the Lisbon treaty despite the democratic decision of the French People.
Perhaps we need a new flag for the Irish in the defense of the French people?
Giscard may have wanted an April/May election – that would suit me. We have a tradition of summer revolt. In May 1798 the Young Irishmen rose, in July 1848 the Fenians rebelled, and in April 1916 the Easter rising took place.
This year maybe we Irish will have an October Revolution.