Analyse The Historical And Current Significance Of — страница 3

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guarantee of a left-wing orientation. In terms of legislative and policy programme, the left sought to reduce unemployment and social exclusion, to promote equality between the sexes and reinforce minority rights. These features indicate that the renewal of the PS constituted a major change in that the party adapted its messages and policies to a changing social and political climate. However by 1997 the confidence of the voters in the PS as a party was still faltering and in need of consolidation (Janine Mossuz Lavau, 1998, 247-62). At this stage it was still unclear whether the PS would remain as a catch all party or try and transform more of a specialist left party like its coalition partners. When Jospin became Prime Minister he wanted to be more centrist much like Tony Blair

is in this country. The problem he faced was that he had to and still has to try and keep the PS s coalition partners (PCF and the Greens) happy. This means that many of the policies have had to remain more left than Jospin and the members of the PS would like. However several commentators have tried to point out that the French do not like to sit on the fence , but prefer things to be more clear-cut, you are either right or left. So to move to the centre could put a lot of voters off. Perhaps having the coalition partners to keep the PS on the left to some extent, will benefit them in the long run. In 1999 the PS won the European elections, winning 22 per cent of the vote. While its coalition partners the greens and the PCF took 9 and 7 per cent of the vote respectively. In fact

the ruling coalition surfaced as the only left-leaning European government to retain popular support during the elections. With the opposition divided, Jospin s main concerns will be to maintain the status quo within the coalition. The Greens have only one minister compared to the PCF s four and have already expressed their wish for greater representation due to their electoral success (RBB, World of Information Country Report, 2000). Despite having won recent elections, the PS is not guaranteed success in the future, it still has some problems to deal with. The PCF deputies remain as divided as ever about the merits of participating in government, and it is beginning increasingly to behave like an opposition party. The PCF s behaviour could cause discomfort to the PS,

particularly as it could serve to highlight the gap between government rhetoric and reality, as well as the inconsistencies between different areas of policy. Recent events such as the states failed attempt to influence the outcome of a large banking merger, and Jospin s awkward reaction to the planned redundancies announced by the tyre manufacturer, Michelin have already brought into sharper focus the state s growing ineptness in the face of corporate mergers and restructurings. Jospin also constantly has to persuade left-wingers in his party (PS) that his programme is not becoming too centrist. He also has things such as the employer s federation (Medef) to deal with, who, in fact are still smarting over the introduction of the 35-hour week (RBB, Economist Intelligence Unit,

1999). Nevertheless, with the economy growing strongly and unemployment falling, Jospin and therefore the PS, should remain in the political ascendant. The PS s cause will be helped by the state of right-of-centre parties, whose increasingly bitter personality rivalries will continue to sap their credibility and prevent them from acting as a unified opposition force. Through the years from when the PS was created in 1969 to the present day it has enjoyed long periods of great significance interspersed with periods of lesser significance, such as the four years after its loss in 1986. So far the year 2000 has been relatively bright for the PS and it looks as though they could be in charge for a while. Maybe even by 2002 they will have a President from their ranks as opposed to

having to cohabit with someone from the right wing. Bibliography John Ardagh France in the New Century Penguin Group, 1999 Jill Forbes and Nick Hewlett Contemporary France Longman, 1998 Jonathon Fenby On the Brink- the trouble with France Little, Brown and Company, 1998 Robert Gildea France since 1945 Oxford University Press, 1997 Peter A. Hall, Jack Hayward and Howard Machin Developments in French Politics Macmillan Press Ltd, 1994 Janine Massuz Lavau Que veut la gauche plurielle Paris: Editions Odile Jacob, 1998 Reuters Business Briefing www.factiva.com Reuters Ltd, 2000