In This Review

La République Du Centre: La Fin De L'exception Française
La République Du Centre: La Fin De L'exception Française
By François Furet, Jacques Julliard and Pierre Rosanvallon
Calmann-Lévy, 1988, 182 pp.

Three excellent essays by leading scholars on the condition of France in the light of Mitterrand's reelection in 1988. All three analyze the long-term changes that account for the emergence of a centrist republic. François Furet, an outstanding historian, sees the 1980s as the time of political pacification when France celebrates the bicentennial of its revolution with something approaching consensus. Furet's essay, the best of the three, suggests that "France has ended its political theater of exceptionalism," and has become more like the other democracies. There are costs to pacification: a possible "banalization" of politics, a regrettable shortage of ideas, ennui. Le Pen-with his 14 percent of the vote-is seen in part as a protest to pacification. The other two essays stress the renewed discussion concerning the role of "civil society," of elites, of the difficulties of parliamentary representation-and all of these are put in a historical-political context. Subtle, suggestive essays, distillations of serious political thinkers who try to put the changed present into a comprehensive context.