Alistair Cole
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This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book illustrates the way in which the departure of Démocratie Libérale in May of 1998 deprived the Union pour la Démocratie Française (UDF) of one of its more proximate elements to the Rassemblement pour la République (RPR). It then focuses on the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) and presents the combination of strategic incentive and ideological disincentive that these parties have encountered in their role as props for the Socialist Party's government. The book focuses on the three elements, parties, electorates and the institutional framework and their effects on each other, in order to better understand the state that the French system finds itself in at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

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