French party's 'yes to EU treaty'
Officials in France's Socialist party say its members have voted "yes" in an internal referendum on whether to back the EU constitution.
Final results of the vote are not expected until Friday.
But an aide to the party leader, Francois Hollande, estimated that 55% of members who voted were in favour of the constitution.
France is to hold a referendum on the text in 2005. Opinion polls show half the French are still undecided.
The Socialist party vote could influence the outcome of the referendum in France, says the BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Paris.
The man leading the "no" campaign within the party, former prime minister and now deputy party leader Laurent Fabius, has accepted defeat.
He had tried to rally supporters by saying he loved Europe too much to let France sign up to a bad treaty.
For him, the European Constitution is too Anglo-Saxon, too much about free markets and competition, too little about workers' rights or full employment, our correspondent says.
But others in the French Socialist Party opposed his campaign.
Socialist leader Francois Hollande agreed the constitution was not perfect, but said a "no" for the party and the country that helped build Europe would be catastrophic.
French Socialists say 'yes' to Constitution
02.12.2004 - 08:17 CET | By Richard Carter
French Socialists have overwhelmingly voted in favour of the Constitution with a massive turnout, according to party officials.
Over 95,000 of the possible 127,027 eligible to vote turned out to cast their ballot and indications are that the "yes" camp received between 55 and 60 percent of the vote.
In Paris, the "yes" camp won 65 percent of the votes, according to media reports. And in the crucial area of Pas-de-Calais, the party's biggest region, which the "no" campaign had hoped to win, 59 percent of people voted "yes", with 85 percent of the vote counted.
Party members were asked to reply "yes" or "no" to the simple question "Do you agree with the European Constitution".
The leader of the "yes" camp, party leader Francois Hollande told AFP, "this victory is a rallying cry to others" and said that the Socialists could be "genuinely proud of themselves and their party".
Admitting defeat, Laurent Fabius, the deputy leader who led opposition to the Treaty said, "I take note of the vote but I certainly regret it".
The official results will not be available until Friday (3 December), but the result of the vote is in no doubt.
And the overwhelming "yes" - which follows months of fierce debate within the Socialist party - is likely to boost French President Jacques Chirac's campaign for a "yes" in the national referendum, to be held as early as May next year.
Both main parties will now be campaigning in favour of the Constitution. Eurosceptic parties, along with Communists and the far-right Front National party will campaign against.
Opinion polls currently show that the French people are broadly in favour of the Constitution, but France has a history of producing close votes on European issues.
The Constitution must be ratified by all 25 Member States before it can come into force.