The debate over the European Constitution gripped France, and the people finally went to the polls and said No.

France became the first country to reject the EU constitution in a referendum held on 29 May 2005. 55% voted against the treaty to establish a constitution for Europe. The turnout for the vote was 69%.

Reporter Tony Connelly captures the mood in France on the day the nation went to the polls.

According to Connelly, the vote has

bitterly divided France and transfixed Europe.

At the Socialist Party headquarters, members were waiting anxiously. Despite an official yes policy, fears for what the constitution might mean for French jobs led some socialists to go over to the no side.

42 million registered voters were making a choice with profound implications for Europe and France's role in it.

The decision by President Jacques Chirac to hold a referendum is one that looks set to backfire disastrously.

One yes voter comments

I voted Yes because I feel European

However, a yes vote was not to be with almost 55% of voters rejecting the constitution.

An RTÉ News report from 29 May 2005.