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Title: From Andre Tardieu to Valery Giscard d'Estaing : the evolution of the modere tradition in France from 1929 to 1981
Author: Davies, David Gareth Griffiths
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2009
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Abstract:
The thesis examines the evolution of the modere tradition in French politics from 1929 to 1981. Les moderes represented those conservative liberals who, whilst initially supportive of the Third Republic, subsequently became increasingly agnostic in their attitude to the Republic, to the extent that by 1919 they were regarded as part of la droite classique. Characterised by their social conservatism and political liberalism, they were representatives of a political tradition that had been marginalized by a stronger republican tradition. Yet though the political structures of liberalism were weak, moderes had a political influence that belied their electoral strength and they increasingly developed a liberal critique in opposition to that of orthodox republican practice. The thesis argues that this often-neglected tradition was of greater significance within the wider plurality of political traditions than has hitherto been credited. Following recent developments in the methodology of modem political history, the process of ideological development is illustrated through an examination of the public rhetoric of a number of leading politicians within the tradition over a period of approximately fifty years. This time span allows for themes of continuity and rupture to be discerned and analysed. The liberal strategy, often at times of sharp ideological polarisation, was aimed at preserving the bourgeois Republic and its liberal elite by drawing upon the tenets of liberalism: including constitutional revision, antisocialism and later anticommunism, centrist and progressive policies, and economic liberalism. Yet many of these policies, which were initially deemed to be uncontroversial, caused internal division, not least because an appeal to one section of the modere electorate caused alienation and confusion in another. This was particularly noticeable in the 1970s during Giscard's attempt to expand the boundaries of political liberalism by adding a progressive, almost social democratic, dimension. The effectiveness of the liberal critique was hindered too by the elitism of the tradition which manifested itself in a certain pessimism, and fear of the consequences of mass democracy which made it look to the tradition's past for inspiration, and in an ambivalence, if not hostility, to the development of a modem, mass political party as the means by which the interests of liberalism might be advanced. Nevertheless, the thesis rejects the interpretation that the history of political liberalism from 1929 to 1981 is a repeated story of expectation and eclipse, with Giscard's defeat in 1981 as a final defeat for la droite liberale and the confirmation of the hegemony of fa droite gaulliste. By the mid-1980s, much of the liberal critique had been realised, demonstrating both the resilience of political liberalism and its contribution to the plurality of political traditions in contemporary France.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.606555  DOI: Not available
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