Until 1986 the prevailing interpretation of the French Fifth Republic was one of encroaching presidential domination; notwithstanding some welcome revisionism occasioned by ‘cohabitation’, presidentialism continues to permeate analysis of contemporary French politics. This article attempts a comparative assessment of the presidential party as it has functioned under the first four presidents of the French Fifth Republic: de Gaulle, Pompidou, Giscard d'Estaing and Mitterrand. It is contended that each presidential party has shared certain attributes, resulting from systemic influences in France's semi-presidential system; while retaining distinct characteristics derived from its identity as a particular type of party, and from the experience of a varying political context. The opportunities and constraints faced by successful presidential parties outweigh in importance their dissimilarites, inherited from their experience of different models of party organisation and ideology. No presidential party that has fallen from grace has managed to survive unscathed, nor to recover its position of former influence.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Political Science and International Relations