Analyse The Historical And Current Significance Of — страница 2

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market-orientated turn adopted by the PS, with its stress on economic orthodoxy, budgetary restraint and the reduction of inflation, proved unexpected for voters who in 1981 had been promised a break with capitalism (Forbes and Hewlett, 1998, p.12). Yet it cannot fully explain their desertion to the right, who proposed the same with interest. However, the phenomenon of structural unemployment, with its increases to a new record high in nearly every year between 1981 and 1993, speaks of a failure of the PS which their voters were unable to forgive. In its wake, unemployment had exacerbated social stresses, notably racism, social exclusion and increased inequality, outcomes which contradicted the core principles of the left (Hall, Hayward and Machin, 1994, p.22). The closing years

of the Mitterrand era were marked by court politics , by a round of disputes between favourites and clans, of corruption in the president s entourage, controversies over the president s activities in the 1930 s and 1940 s and questions over his later choice of friends. Scandals over the financing of the PS and the distribution of AIDS contaminated blood to haemophiliacs led to the incrimination of the socialist hierarchy, notably the party leader, Henri Emmanuelli, in the first affair and the former prime minister, Laurent Fabius in the second. The image problems of the PS were exacerbated by the vicious in fighting between the Jospin, Fabius and Rocard factions at the 1990 Rennes conference where no majority emerged. Changes in the leadership of the PS made these disputes in to

an even larger affair. After Lionel Jospin resigned from the post of first secretary in 1988, he was replaced by the die-hard Pierre Mauroy, to be succeeded in 1992 by Laurent Fabius ( once Mitterrand s heir apparent) and in 1993 by Michel Rocard (Mitterrand s enemy). None was able to broker agreement on a common direction within the party and turn the tide turning against the socialists (RBB,2000). The designation of Jospin as presidential candidate in 1995 led to an unexpectedly successful campaign in which he drew the largest number of first round votes. Though beaten by Chirac in the second round, Jospin emerged as undisputed leader of the PS, with opportunity to consolidate the party and the divided left. As early as 1993 Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, one f Jospin s close

collaborators, attempted to organise meetings between the PS, PCF and the Greens. By 1996, these three parties were taking it in turns to host meetings. Preliminary discussions over electoral programmes were underway in January 1997. Then came the surprise dissolution of the Assemblee Nationale by president Chirac on 21st April 1997, it back fired some what on Chirac, because it caught the right napping, but accelerated the regrouping of the left. The PS involved itself in many agreements with other parties from the left such as the PCF and the Greens, mainly so that their candidates would not contest each other. In consequence the gauche plurielle was able to put forward the left s most united front for two decades, with the PS leading the way (Ardagh, 1999, pp.29-30). The

formation of the plural left corresponds surprisingly closely to the big bang view of French politics outlined by Rocard in 1993, according to which the new role of the PS was to federate the most innovative members of the ecology, communist and centrist parties. Yet Rocard seemed unaware that restructuring the left meant an implosion of the PS, a process to which he contributed by the party s poor shoeing in the 1994 European elections (which also destroyed his presidential hopes). Renewal had required two rounds of ideological and programmatic change. In the mid-1980 s the PS abandoned its Marxist baggage, gave up the temptation of a mixed economy dominated by nationalised firms and accepted the rigours of the internationalised market economy. The transformation was seen as a

process of modernisation by some, and as a lurch to the right by others. However the requirement in the late-1990 s was to be anchored within the left (RBB, IAC Trade and Industry Database, 1999). Francois Hollande, the current first secretary, stressed the necessity of this repositioning, he believed that if the PS were to occupy the centre and abandon the left then they would run the risk of electoral sanction. Implementation of this strategy has been threefold. In their discourse, the socialists have returned to stressing the traditional left-wing values of social justice and equality. In terms of a strategy of government, Prime Minister Jospin avoided the opening to the centre deployed by Rocard in 1988-91 and offered the plurality of his cabinet and parliamentary majority as