Analyse The Historical And Current Significance Of

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Analyse The Historical And Current Significance Of The French Socialist Party The Ps (Parti Socialiste) Essay, Research Paper The French Socialist Party (PS) was established by the conversion of the Section francaise de l internationale ouvriere (SFIO) in to the PS in 1969. However it wasn t until 1971 at the Epinay-sur-seine conference, when Francois Mitterrand emerged as leader that it began its transformation into France s leading political party. In order to understand the transition that took place within the socialist ranks in the 1980 s in France it is necessary to have an idea of the history of the left (RBB, 2000). During the Fourth Republic the Socialists (SFIO) adopted an anti communist stance, due to the influence of the Cold War ethos. It was also deeply involved

in the coalition governments of the time often involved in policy and decision making of things that did not tow the party line. For example the SFIO were during the miners strike in 1948 it was the socialist interior minister, Jules Moch, who sent in troops against striking miners which resulted in at least two deaths (Forbes an Hewlett, 1998, p.17). During the 1960 s the political parties of the left were sorely divided which hit them hard during the elections as low support showed. The problem the left had was the dominant position that the communist party (PCF) had always held, this made it difficult to create a large socialist government. It was in the 1970 s that the PS started to make concerted efforts to end this period of dominance. The PS proceeded to ally with the

communists rather than fight against them, The agreement they came to was called the Common Program and came into place in 1972. This move was a deliberate one by the PS and it resulted in growth and consolidation of the PS at the expense of the PCF. The co-operation was simply a means to an end for the PS. This end was to create a socialist not communist dominance of the left. The 1974 presidential election was a close run affair. With Pompidou s death the right had been left without an agreed candidate, the economy was deteriorating with inflation at 17%, and unemployment was rising (Gildea, 1997, 97-98). The left on the other hand was united behind Mitterrand, his control over the PS ensuring that factions were quiet. Plus Communist (PCF) support was guaranteed with the Common

Program. By the time campaigning started Mitterrand was able to consider himself to be bound by no agreements and campaign on his own platform of moderate reform. Although the PS was locked in to specific policies such as ideas of worker democracy, Mitterrand as presidential candidate was able to build a wider coalition of support including left-leaning Catholics, and ex-gaulists. Mitterrand came within a hair s breadth of beating Giscard d Estaing getting 49.2% of the vote and the PS did very well in local elections in 1976 and 1977 (Forbes and Hewlett, 1998, p.16). All this led to Mitterrand s position to be strengthened and the PCF s weakened. Then on the 10th May Mitterrand was elected and for the first time since the Popular Front, a predominantly socialist government was to

be formed. Indeed since the French revolution of 1789 France had only experienced three years of truly left-wing leadership. Mitterrand s victories in the presidential elections of 1981 and 1988 had a big part to play in the rise of the PS, but he perhaps precipitated its fall as well. Even by the mid 1980 s many voters disillusioned by the socialist performance in office, especially the recourse of austerity policies in 1983-84, had deserted the left, leading to defeat in the 1986 parliamentary elections. However this turned out to be a mere bump in the road compared to the 1993 defeat, where the PS left-radical vote dropped to 18.6%, having been 39.5% in 1981 and 37% in 1988 (RBB, IAC Trade and Industry Database, 1999). A range of factors explains this outcome. The reformist,