The Rise of the Socialists

Part of the French Politics, Society and Culture Series book series (FPSC)


The rise of the Socialists was a portent of Communist failure because it hinged on lessons learned about the evolution of French politics and society under the Fifth Republic, which the PCF was slow to take on board. From three decades of contraction in its core membership and opportunistic attempts to survive, the PS of the 1970s launched into an expansion of its membership base and the definition of a credible winning strategy at the polls, while the PCF’s hold on its core support began to lose the invincibility that had once defined it. The ensuing shift in the way the constituencies of the two great parties of the Left were configured could also be mapped onto profound changes in French society that had inevitable consequences for the way voters perceived their interests and those who purported to represent them. The PS was notably successful in moving towards a politics based on the kind of elastic concepts and ambitions that appealed to voters less inclined to the more ideologically rooted perspectives of the PCF, and reaped the benefits in terms of the electoralism that defined its attempts to rally support for its bid for power. Moreover, in François Mitterrand, it had a leader who understood the primordial role of presidential appeal in unpicking the lock to power under the Fifth Republic, while the PCF, both institutionally and in terms of the personalities leading it, continued to register a crippling deficit in its understanding of the challenge of presidentialism.


French Society Great Party Common Programme Legislative Election Socialist Movement 
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Copyright information

© Gino G. Raymond 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BristolEngland

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