The personalization of French politics today is so pervasive that it has more or less relegated the political parties themselves to the background. And yet, these parties play a central role in which, after a period of profound transformation, two of them, the PS (Socialist Party) and the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement), have managed to dominate the political system. But how secure is this dominance and what are the obstacles and weaknesses? To what extent is this dominance a result of the presidentialization of the parties? In what way might these parties evolve?
This work jointly analyses the dynamics at work within the PS and within the UMP. This includes dynamics induced by the similarity of the positions they both occupy in the political system, dynamics specific to each party individually, both of whom moreover are linked to each other through a mimetic relationship, and the dynamics of their political agenda either in relation to the candidates or to the programmes themselves.
However, to pose these questions is to open a debate on the possibility – which may seem paradoxical today – that France is moving towards a two-party system. More broadly, such a debate leads to a questioning of current transformations in the partisan system. The presidential and legislative elections in 2007 are, of course, a crucial moment in which better understand them.
Gérard Grunberg is Vice President and Academic Dean of Sciences Po. He is a CNRS Research Director at the CEVIPOF (Centre for Political Research at Sciences Po.
Florence Haegel is a Research Director at CEVIPOF.