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European Parties and the European Integration Process, 1945–1992


Lucia Bonfreschi, Giovanni Orsina and Antonio Varsori

The present volume brings together three different traditions of historical study: national politics, European integration, and political parties. Since the 1980s, there has been an enlargement of the scope of political history. This attempt to transcend national boundaries can intersect with the new strands of European integration history, paying much more attention to transnational perspectives and forces. The chapters comprised in this book attempt to forge a dialogue between these new methodologies and the study of political parties in manifold ways. Firstly, in the study of party foreign and European politics – how parties have perceived themselves as belonging not only to the national political game, but also to a wider transnational, and European one. Secondly, party history can transcend national boundaries through the study of international and European party cooperation. Thirdly, it can offer worthwhile avenues of study on how political families deal with European integration not along ideological cleavages but along national ones. This volume fills a crucial gap of European historiography by comparing parties’ discourses/platforms/policies on European integration and by developing national, comparative and transnational approaches.
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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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