Sunday, May 06, 2012

If Sarkozy loses in the presidential runoff, the right appears on the verge of imploding altogether

Although the latest rumors say that nothing is certain in the French election due to end at 8 pm Sunday night (tonight), a couple of hours from this posting, David Bell has an article on the implosion of the French right.
To understand the state of the right wing in France, start by considering the name of Nicolas Sarkozy’s political party, the country’s major conservative political force. Founded a decade ago by Jacques Chirac as the Union for the Presidential Majority, it is currently known as the Union for a Popular Movement (French acronym in both cases: UMP). It descends from another party, also founded by Chirac, in 1976, called the Rally for the Republic (RPR). The RPR in turn took the place of the Union of Democrats for the Republic (UDR), which was earlier known as the Union for the Defense of the Republic (UDR), the Union of Democrats for the Fifth Republic (UDVR), and the Union for the New Republic (UNR). That party was founded at the start of the Fifth Republic, in 1958, by supporters of Charles de Gaulle, who had previously led the Rally of the French People (RPF). Everything clear?

As this history might suggest, for the last half century the French right has suffered from something of an identity crisis. Now, especially if Sarkozy loses in this month’s presidential runoff, the right appears on the verge of imploding altogether and reassembling itself in a different form. And the worrisome result could be that a far-right grouping achieves major party status in the country for the first time since World War II.