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France under the Fifth Republic

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The significant divisions inside the French Right.
    1. Divisions inside the Parties of the French Right throughout the Fifth Republic.
    2. Divisions between the parties of the French Right.
  3. When the national unity is achieved around one strong leader.
    1. De Gaulle's hegemony throughout the 1960's.
    2. Chirac's victories in 1995 and 2002.
  4. The catch-all posture adopted by three main parties of the right on the eve of the next Presidential election.
    1. Nicolas Sarkozy as the candidate for the UMP.
  5. Conclusion.
  6. Bibliography.

The French Fourth Republic collapsed following the rise of the civil war in Algeria. Its lack of stability, which was a consequence of its parliamentary structure and the weaknesses of its parties, did not manage to survive this major crisis, and pointed out the need for a stronger executive regime. On average, the parties during the fourth republic represented only 15 % of the electorate a piece. The Communist party was actually the strongest at this time, accounting for between 20% and 25% of the vote. All the parties were focused on narrow interests and clienteles and governments were built of very heterogeneous coalitions. Kirchheimer explained that a catch-all party abandoned attempts at the intellectual and moral encadrement of the working class, turning more fully for a wider audience and immediate electoral success . While the Fourth Republic never managed to contribute to the emergence of this type of party, the Fifth Republic wished by De Gaulle and adopted in September by about 80% of the French people, might have introduced a significant turn in the French party system.

[...] Do persistent divisions and multiple parties' show that the French Fifth Republic didn't led to the emergence of catch-all party or should we also consider the unity built around strong leaders? Examining the evolution of the French Right, I will first show how divisions have been significant during the Fifth Republic before explaining how unity can be achieved around one strong leader and even appeal to a much wider potential of electors. In the last part of my essay, I will attempt to demonstrate the catch-all posture adopted by the UDF, the UMP, and also the FN with a view to the next Presidential elections. [...]


[...] Divisions inside the Parties of the French Right throughout the Fifth Republic Each of these parties has known more or less important internal dissents, mainly because of individual's ambition rather than major disagreements towards their politic lines. The UDF, Union pour la Démocratie Française, was created by Valerie Giscard d'Estaing in 1978, it developed as a loose confederation of small parties. As such, it was ?originally a confederation of those non-Gaullist parties supporting Giscard's presidency (1974-81). It has brought together economic ultraliberals, Christian and social democrats, right-wing radicals, political clubs and others centre right element. [...]


[...] However, Chirac was effectively in power only until 1997, as he provoked a surprising ?dissolution? of the National Assembly as an opportunity to provide new élan', in order to take France ?further along the path of change'. Following these elections, Jospin became Prime Minister of a plural left government until 2002. Chirac's 2002 presidential campaign had focused primarily on the issue of insecurity, a political field where the French left has never been really confident. Many analysts now reckon that the issue of insecurity has also been fostered by major Medias such as TF1, the first French TV channel. [...]

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