'No' campaign vows 'healthy shock'
By CNN's Jim Bitterman
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PUY DU FOU, France (CNN) -- Phillippe de Villiers is the leader of the campaign to vote "No" in Sunday's referendum on the European Union constitution.
De Villiers has turned his Chateau in Brittany, Puy du Fou, into a Gallic Disneyland, where much effort is made to keep the history of the Vendee region alive, to reflect the spirit of an area that since the French Revolution and before has always been fiercely independent.
So it is probably not too surprising that some of the most vocal opponents of the European constitution can be found here.
De Villiers, despite being a member of the European parliament, believes the rejection of the new constitution will be what he calls "a healthy shock" for other European leaders, sending them the message that, among other things, France does not want Europe to extend to include Turkey.
Up and down the north-west coast of France, De Villiers' supporters couldn't agree more. Very frequently, the explanation why centers on past grievances.
The reasoning of many who will vote "no" has nothing to do with the merits of the constitution itself and everything to do with their experience with European-wide government -- an experience which many find more negative than positive.
Thierry Thomazeau, a 43 year old tuna and anchovy fisherman, says European rulemakers are directly interfering with his livelihood, preventing him from buying a new boat, in their effort to control fish stocks. He is on the right politically and he is planning to vote no.
Further inland, organic farmer Denis Gaborieau is much more to the political left, but he too will vote "no" on the constitution -- for a similar reason.
Sit down for a glass of his wine and he explains that as much as farmers benefit from European support payments, the money seems to go mainly to big agriculture, not to small efficient farms like his.
At Puy du Fou, the historic tales created by Phillip de Villiers stretch back two millennia, to a time when Gallic Christians fought for independence from Roman empire builders.
And that is something he no doubt hopes his fellow Frenchmen will continue to do against the European empire builders of today -- by not easily giving a thumbs up to the constitutional referendum.