French Business in the Mitterrand Years: the Continuity of Change

  • Joseph Szarka


The political economy of the Mitterrand years was rich in drama, being marked by a series of shifts from a dirigiste to a neo-liberal mode of governance.1 The 1981-1982 dreams of a rupture avec le capitalisme through massive nationalization gave way during 1983-1985 to austerity and the fight against inflation, only to be trumped by the liberal agenda of privatization and deregulation in 1986-1988. In his second term, Mitterrand’s electoral pledge of ni privatization ni nationalization proved untenable, whilst the redistributive concerns of the RMI and the ISF (impô de solidarité sur la fortune) were overtaken by the imperatives of international competitiveness and European integration. In turn, the hard-won gains of competitive disinflation were undermined by the recession of 1992-1993 and by mass unemployment; these twinned shadows darkened the Mitterrand fin de régne in the eyes of the French electorate who, in the parliamentary election of 1993 and the presidential election of 1995, gave the right major victories. Thus it is understandable that the period has been described as one of discontinuity.2


Small Firm Industrial Policy Trade Balance European Monetary Union French Firm 
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© M. Maclean 1998

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  • Joseph Szarka

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