This book looks at the period 2015–18 in French politics, a turbulent time that witnessed the apparent collapse of the old party system, the taming of populist and left-wing challenges to the Republic and the emergence of a new political order centred on President Emmanuel Macron. The election of Macron was greeted with relief in European chancelleries and appeared to give a new impetus to European integration, even accomplishing the feat of making France attractive after a long period of French bashing and reflexive decline. But what is the real significance of the Macron presidency? Is it as transformative as it appears? Emmanuel Macron and the remaking of France provides a balanced answer to this pressing question. It is written to appeal to a general readership with an interest in French and European politics, as well as to students and scholars of French politics.
This book compares the politics, policies, and polity-building dynamics of devolution in Wales and decentralisation in the French region of Brittany. Empirically, it draws conclusions from in-depth fieldwork within the two regions and reports the findings of a comparative public-opinion survey. Theoretically, the book contributes towards our understanding of the comparative study of regions. Perhaps most impressive is how the case studies generally are based on, but also cast light back to, the nuanced theoretical framework on regional capacity established at the outset. The book uncovers the dynamics of devolution in Wales and decentralisation in Brittany through extensive face-to-face interviews: over two hundred interviews were carried out from 2001 to 2004, a formative stage in the development of the devolved institutions in Wales and also a period of expectation in Brittany.
This chapter presents a general overview of devolution in Wales, with a special emphasis on building a new institution from an actor-focused perspective. Venturing inside the National Assembly, it shows members' frustration with the operation of the institution. It charts the evolution of Welsh devolution away from ‘all-inclusive politics’ to polity building and explores the different ways in which the Assembly can make a difference in policy terms, discussing the relationships between the National Assembly and its semi-autonomous public bodies. It also examines the role of the civil service, the party system, and financial arrangements in post-devolution Wales. The chapter concludes with a comment on the improbability of an incoming UK Conservative government seeking to turn back the devolutionary tide.
This chapter addresses the theme of decentralisation and political capacity building in Brittany. Venturing inside the Brittany regional council provides an opportunity to investigate the functioning of the region as a political institution, and to explore the theme of public policy-making within Brittany. The discussion argues that the influence of the French regions (and Brittany in particular) is tied up with interdependent policy-making and the quality of horizontal and vertical relationships. The chapter's conclusion focuses upon the regional political space and the constraints and opportunities faced by governors in Brittany.
This chapter presents findings from opinion surveys commissioned in Wales and Brittany in June 2001 in order to engage in deductive quantitative analysis. Defining support for regional political institutions as the dependent variable, the surveys set out to elucidate general comparative political-science questions about institutional traditions, identity foci, instrumental incentives, and political opportunity structures. These surveys were also, more specifically, designed to discover what people living in Wales and Brittany think of their regions, how they envisage their future institutional development, how they conceive of their regional and national identities, or how they frame issues of public policy.
This chapter attempts to reconstruct the beliefs of the chosen policy communities, based on responses to a detailed questionnaire and upon data from the interviews themselves. The method of snowball sampling was used as a useful aggregate indicator of the policy communities in the regions and issue areas involved. This chapter considers each of the six groups in turn: the Wales and Brittany generic groups, then the language-advocacy and training and education groups in Wales and Brittany. The discussion concludes in considering whether there are any lessons to be drawn from comparative experience.
This book sets out to deepen the understanding of processes of comparative regional governance by investigating two historic regions (Wales and Brittany) in two neighbouring European Union states. The framework for analysis combines criteria drawn from institutions (and political opportunity structures), relationships, identities and regulation. This chapter presents a set of concluding evaluative judgements about regional governance in Wales and Brittany, in an attempt to draw out some more general conclusions about regional political capacity.
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.
This chapter presents an overview of the evolution of the French party system in the first forty-five years of the Fifth Republic. During the Third and Fourth Republics, the fragmented structure of the party system, along with the parliamentary basis of political power, had a direct and divisive impact upon governmental stability. Even 'strong' parties, such as the Parti Communiste Français (PCF) and Rassemblement pour la République (RPR), relied more on the logistical infrastructure provided by municipal government than on their formal party organisations. The chapter identifies the stresses and strains and maps out the important changes that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. It also identifies three underlying causes of party continuity: institutional incentives, flexible and adaptable party organisations, and the absorptive capacity of the main French political traditions.
The introduction discusses various challenges facing France’s political institutions and party system on the eve of the country’s 2017 presidential election. It presents the specifically French angle of the more general phenomenon of rising mistrust in political institutions and political parties and the capacity of political leadership to restore trust. It reviews these phenomena through the prisms of institutional adaptation, political and party competition and changing public opinion. The period of observation lay in and around the 2017 French presidential and parliamentary elections. The introduction provides an overview of the challenged institutional order of the Fifth Republic, the crisis of existing political parties and the threat posed by new movements. It concludes with Macron’s election as president and the accompanying claim that France is back.