Mitterrand family split on EU constitution poll

Just as France continues to be split down the middle by the European constitution, so too is one of its most high-profile political families, the Mitterrands.

Danielle Mitterrand, whose passionately pro-European husband, François, championed the single European currency, has surprised many on the French left - not least her own son - by coming out in favour of a "no" vote in the referendum on 29 May.

Gilbert Mitterrand, the younger son of the late president, and the Socialist mayor of Libourn in south-western France, now finds himself up against an unexpected opponent as he campaigns for a "yes" vote. Despite initially backing the Socialist Party's "yes" campaign, a closer inspection of the EU enlargement treaty prompted Mme Mitterrand's change in position. As a committed fair-trade campaigner, she believes the treaty would favour the "commercialisation of basic human rights" according to Le Parisien newspaper .

Mme Mitterrand has provoked embarrassment in official circles with her anti-American tirades over Third World poverty.

But any rumours of a family rift were dispelled with good humour by Gilbert. "Mum is leaning towards the 'no' vote, which makes for some good discussions at home. It's a fascinating debate. She hasn't managed to convince me and I think the feeling is mutual," he said.