Edited By Lucia Bonfreschi, Giovanni Orsina and Antonio Varsori
The Gaullist Party and Europe. Political Divisions and Strategies for the Reacquisition of Power, 1976-1992
The Gaullist Party and Europe
Political Divisions and Strategies for the Reacquisition of Power, 1976-1992
Assistant Professor, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, Lucca
The attitude of the Rassemblement pour la République (RPR) towards the construction of Europe was to undergo a remarkable evolution between 1976, the year of its foundation, and 1992, the year in which the party stood divided on how to vote in the Maastricht Treaty referendum. In order to understand this evolution, we need to bear in mind a number of key factors that interacted and determined many of its guiding concepts right from the start. First of all, there was a long-term factor: its Gaullist inheritance. The RPR was proposing itself as a continuation of Gaullism and Gaullist political culture, and thus intended to maintain the structure and electorate of the previous Gaullist party, the Union pour la Défense de la République (UDR). Secondly, the RPR had to devise a strategy for the reacquisition of power, for since 1974 Gaullism had been pushed ever further away from the inner circles of power: in that year it lost the Presidency of the Republic to the Independent Republican Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (known as VGE); by 1976 it was no longer the party of the Prime Minister, for Jacques Chirac had resigned from the position; in 1981 it became the opposition party of the Socialist President François Mitterrand and his left wing majority...
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