Presidentialism Restored: The French Elections of 2002

Byron John Criddle, D. Bell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    14 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The French elections of 2002 ended five years of cohabitation between a Prime Minister and government of the Left and a President of the Right, and restored presidential rule under the re-elected neo-Gaullist Jacques Chirac. This had always been a possibility given that power had changed hands at every election since 1981, but the manner and scale of the Right's victory were entirely unexpected, with the Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin being eliminated at the first ballot by the Front National leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. This shock result-as much due to Jospin's failure to mobilise the Left as to Le Pen's modest augmentation of his share of the vote-prompted a tactical mobilisation against Le Pen and for Chirac in the decisive ballot of the election, and for Chirac's supporters in the subsequent parliamentary elections. Paradoxically, an unpopular President with a record low first-round share of the vote found himself re-elected overwhelmingly. Presidential dominance was thus restored by presidential and parliamentary majorities falling into line, but in an institutional setting still conducive to party system fragmentation and to the election of conflicting majorities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)643-663
    Number of pages20
    JournalParliamentary Affairs
    Volume55
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

    Cite this