Is there a Conservative party in France? There is no simple answer as in French political culture this has always been a negative term. ‘Progress’, ‘liberal’, ‘left’ and nowadays ‘socialist’ all have positive connotations, while ‘right’and ‘conservative’, at least as long as their content remains undefined, have always indicated political extremes. Those who have this disposition, though it is no more to be ashamed of than any other, spend a good deal of their time denying it and attributing it to others, almost as if to exorcise it. No doubt this explains the fact that in the French political system conservatives have only succeeded by disguising their political aims behind a greater need in the system, the need for security and for faith in the status quo. ‘To be of the right is to fear for the existing state of things,’ said Jules Romains at the turn of the century, and this remains true today. So it is not surprising that conservatism became a major political force only by claiming to be realistic, especially in economic and financial matters, and by offering the middle class, which provides most of its support, a simple formula: ‘The state should manage the nation as a good family man manages his inheritance, spending no more than is earned.’ This theme, with variations, accounted for the success of Raymond Poincaré in the Third Republic and Antoine Pinay in the Fourth and is part of Giscard d’Estaing’s image in the Fifth Republic.
KeywordsEurope Expense Cote Rene Banner
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