The Party System: the End of Old Certainties

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A system of competing political parties is generally held to be a key defining feature of a liberal democratic political system. Although the 1958 constitution recognizes the legitimacy of political parties as ‘representative institutions’, a powerful strand of Gaullism has denigrated political parties as divisive, fractious organizations, whose existence is barely tolerated, and even then on condition that they do not threaten the superior interests of the Republic. In the Gaullist tradition, parties have never been wholeheartedly accepted as instruments of democracy, reflecting a distrust of representative democracy in favour of a direct relationship between the providential leader and the nation. A suspicion of intermediary bodies between the citizens and the state (such as parties and pressure groups) is not limited to Gaullism. It is deeply embedded in the ideology of the unitary state itself. In the Rousseauite tradition, the state represents the general will, superior to the particularistic interests represented by parties, groups and regions. There is no natural sympathy for doctrines such as pluralism which emphasize the importance of the corps intermédiaires between the citizen and the state. In part, this is a natural consequence of France’s historical development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStructures of Power in Modern France
EditorsGino G. Raymond
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780333983645
ISBN (Print)9781349398874, 9780333670880
Publication statusPublished - 2000

User-Defined Keywords

  • Political Party
  • Presidential Election
  • Electoral System
  • Party System
  • Parliamentary Election


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