Gaullism and the liberal challenge : how parties change their programmes : the case of the Rassemblement pour la Republique, 1978-1986
During the first half of the 1980s, the Gaullist Rassemblement pour la Republique (RPR) abandoned the state interventionism which had been its traditional economic policy, while it was the dominant party in French politics during the 1960s, in favour of a liberalism which stressed individual responsibility and the free play of market forces. This thesis attempts both to describe what happened and to discuss the implications of such a dramatic reversal for theories of party behaviour. The first three chapters are introductory; the first summarizes contemporary explanations of party behaviour, the second is a detailed exposition of the programmatic changes which took place between 1978 and 1986, and the third recounts the political contexts in which the Gaullists acted from 1969 onwards. Each of the next three chapters examines a single possible explanation of programme change. These are respectively organizational changes, generational or sociological changes, and an explanation based on the competition for votes. While each of these throws some light on what happened in the RPR, it is argued that they are not enough to account for the denial of previous party orthodoxy. The party's ideological development is more readily explained by long-run changes in the climate of ideas in society generally, described in chapters 7 and 8, the source of a synthesis which could articulate the interests of an alliance of technocrats and the party's business friends who, as we show in chapters 9 and 10, exerted considerable influence on the drafting of new party programmes. Chapter 11 is devoted to an attempt to give a balanced interpretation of the different variables already mentioned.