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European Parties and the European Integration Process, 1945–1992

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Edited By 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 French centrists and the European elections of 1979-1989. Playing the “European card” to avoid bipartisanship?

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The French centrists and the European elections of 1979-1989

Playing the “European card” to avoid bipartisanship?

Michele MARCHI

Adjunct professor, University of Bologna

Foreword

I intend in this article to analyse the first three European elections (of 1979, 1984 and 1989) in France by looking at them from the centrist movement’s perspective. The idea, essentially, is to address issues regarding the road to European integration, with a focus on the evolution of national political cultures when confronted by changes in Europe (such as the election of the Parliament in Strasbourg by universal suffrage), whilst relating this evolution to internal changes inherent to each politico-institutional system.

The first three elections of the Parliament in Strasbourg by universal suffrage coincided with a decisive stage in the evolution of the Fifth French Republic, not to mention the importance of the socio-economic crisis context of the time, characteristic of the Old Continent as a whole. But, even if we limit ourselves to examining the politico-institutional changes, we should not forget that the European elections of 1979, 1984 and 1989 took place amidst at least four decisive changes which shook the Fifth Republic and contributed to its change.

Firstly, we saw the consolidation of the Fifth Republic, once the Gaullian phase had ended after 1974, then a change in power with the arrival of François Mitterand as French President and proof that the Gaullian institutions could also be used in...

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