A glance at the EU referendum vote in France on Sunday:

THE REFERENDUM: France's 41.7 million registered voters were asked: "Do you approve the proposed law authorizing the ratification of the treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe?" They rejected it, about 55 percent to 45 percent.

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AT STAKE: A constitution that would take effect Nov. 1, 2006, if ratified by referendum or parliamentary vote in all 25 European Union states. It already has been approved by nine countries — Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Greece, Austria, Slovakia, Spain and Germany.

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THE CHARTER: The constitution guarantees freedom of speech and religion, shelter, education, collective labor bargaining, and fair working conditions. It enshrines the EU flag — a circle of 12 golden stars on a blue background — and designates Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" as the EU anthem, and makes the euro the official currency. The constitution provides for an EU president to be chosen by EU leaders for a maximum five-year term.

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A NO MIGHT NOT BE A NO: The treaty says EU leaders will discuss what to do if, by October 2006, four-fifths of member states have ratified the treaty, but one or more others have "encountered difficulties" getting it accepted. It is not impossible that countries would be asked to vote again.

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THE IMPACT ON FRANCE — A rejection embarrasses President Jacques Chirac just 22 months before his second term ends. He has said he will not resign. He could fire unpopular Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. Rejection reinvigorates far-right and far-left leaders who campaigned for a "no."