Happy are the countries, led by Lithuania and Hungary, able to ratify the constitution quickly and quietly by means of a parliamentary vote. At the unhappy end of the scale are Poland and the Czech Republic, where referenda seem inescapable and there is strong opposition to the constitution, though more among politicians than the public.Poland is the lesser worry. The farmers are happy. A referendum should produce a ‘Yes’. If the turn-out is less than half, making the referendum invalid, the decision reverts to a more hostile parliament. But even there, a majority can be found.The most effective Polish critic of the constitution has been Jan Rokita, parliamentary leader of Civic Platform, the right-wing party set to lead the next Polish government. He coined the phrase “Nice or death”, when championing the voting rules fixed in the Nice Treaty and refusing those of the draft constitution. But a third way will be found if Poland’s membership depends on it, and watch your shoes. “We will throw up, and we will vote ‘Yes’,” explains a friend of mine in Civic Platform. Robert Cottrell is central Europe correspondent for The Economist. The Czech Republic is the bigger worry. Its government has collapsed and the constitution makes early elections very difficult. So for the next 15 months the country will be run, if you can call it that, either by a discredited socialist government relying on communist support, or by an apolitical caretaker government behoven to President Vaclav Klaus.Either outcome will leave Klaus as the real boss, and he may well be the most Eurosceptic leader in the whole EU – the only one to seriously consider that his country would be better off outside the Union than in it.Luckily for those who want the Czechs to stay inside the Union, Klaus’s Euroscepticism is not shared to the same extent by the rest of his party, the Civic Democrats. The Civic Democrats call for what they call a “soft No” to the constitution, meaning a ‘No’ vote which does not ruin their country’s position within the EU. They seem to think they can block the constitution and still stay members.In principle, I think somebody should put them straight about this. If the Czech Republic alone rejects the constitution, then the result is highly unlikely to be a continuation of the EU in its present form with the Czech Republic as a full member.It is less clear how to get this message across helpfully. If Jacques Chirac wins the French referendum next month, for example, then he will be tempted to crow that any country which rejects the constitution must leave the EU. But the Czechs will take that as a provocation to vote ‘No’. So will the British, though they need no provoking.One option might be for the Czechs, and, indeed, anyone else, to ratify the constitution conditionally, as the US sometimes does with treaties. They could say that ratification would take effect only when every other EU country had ratified too. That would give the Czechs a chance to think again if, for example, Britain said ‘No’ and was booted out, leaving the EU in a Franco-German chokehold. In any event, it would buy them time, which is always useful. Better a fuzzy ‘Yes’ than a fatal ‘No’.