The Atom Besieged: Extraparliamentary Dissent in France and Germany

This work examines the opposition to nuclear power in France and West Germany, which the authors see as broadly based and widespread. The basic fear which accounts for the vehemence of the opposition is, they believe, that nuclear power is fundamentally altering the makeup of society. Traditional political structures-parliaments, political parties, unions-have not been adequately responsive. The authors contend that decisions are made by government and the nuclear industry rather than by the affected constituencies through the democratic process. Yet in Germany, at least, the protest movement, raising questions of legitimacy and constitutional principle, imposed a moratorium on nuclear power development. There was no similar consequence in France under Giscard d'Estaing. This is ascribed by the authors to the fact that the French dismiss protest movements-a ubiquitous feature of their political culture-as resistance to change or the result of ignorance of matters only the state can judge. An interesting subject, handled well.

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