Austerity policies were adopted in France in response to the European
financial crisis, but inevitably redefined the domestic policy agenda with
quite remarkable consequences on electoral behaviour and citizens’
satisfaction with politics, as well as on governments’ strategies in
building political support. This chapter first analyses the challenges and
changes facing the French left. It then introduces the major left-wing
political families in France, and offers a brief account of their political
dynamics. The third section focuses on the electoral performance of the
French left during the crisis period, using an analysis based on economic
voting theory. The fourth section investigates developments on the
ideological right–left scale and on EU issues, working with data from the
Manifesto project and analysing the manifestos from the 2017 elections.
This chapter explores the reasons for the state of surprise, sketching them out from the starting point of the significant impact of the collapse of the USSR on Western understandings of Russia. It also explores the practical ramifications for the decline of Russia as a political priority on the wider political stage. The chapter outlines some of the problems of the current mainstream discussion of Russia, which is drowning in a discourse of speculation and rumour, 'Putinology' and historical analogies. Despite the dominance of transitological/regime question approach and the perceived eccentricity of Kremlinology, for many it has remained a truism of Russian political life that the final decisions are made behind the closed doors of the Kremlin. In fact, the collapse of the USSR has had serious ramifications for the study of Russia in the West, resulting in a major reassessment of Soviet studies, often bitter and acrimonious.