Towards a new political economy of social democracy? : the fall and rise of the French Parti Socialiste 1990-1998
This thesis seeks to explain the organisational, programmatic and ideological renewal of the French Parti Socialiste (PS), employed as a test case to examine the veracity of the 'crisis of social democracy' literature. Chapter I reviews the crisis of social democracy literature, introducing a framework for the analysis of social democracy in general, and the PS in particular. Chapter 2 establishes the historical and institutional context of PS development. Chapter 3 demonstrates how organisational changes have altered the opportunity structures of the key actors, crucially affecting how the party articulates its electoral and policy strategy. Chapter 4 explores PS electoral strategists' attempts to resolve problems posed by the fragmentation of homogenous electoral blocs of support, increasing electoral volatility, and the competitive challenge of new parties. Chapter 5 analyses PS ideological evolution in the 1990s in the context of the collapse of 'actual existing socialism', the exhaustion of traditional social democratic means, the enforced peaceful co-existence with the new market orthodoxy, and the increasing relevance of supra-national co-ordination for social democracy. In Chapter 6 we will explore the implications of globalisation for social democracy. The thesis rejects the 'hyperglobal' interpretation of the relationship between social democracy and globalisation, which asserts that national economies are now subsumed into a 'borderless world', within which social democracy is an historically exhausted project. Analysis of the development and implementation of the PS's macro-economic policy, job creation policy, labour market policies, and 'structural adjustment' policies, such as the shift towards a 35 hour week, demonstrate enduring social democratic policy activism. Chapter 7 presents a comparative political economic analysis of the economic strategies of the PS and the British Labour Party which further illustrates the potential for social democratic policy activism. Finally, the conclusion summarises and draws together the arguments.