Chirac's Challenge: Liberalization, Europeanization, and Malaise in France

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Chirac's Challenge: Liberalization, Europeanization, and Malaise in France

Edited by John T. S. Keller and Martin A. Schain
St. Martin's Press, 1996
406 pp. $45.00

This volume provides a thorough background to, and a partial explanation for, the French "malaise," whose symptoms are a disenchantment with the "moderate" parties of left and right, the rise of Le Pen's National Front, and lack of trust in the government. There are many causes for this malaise: political corruption, unshakable unemployment, promises of reform followed by little action or by measures contrary to the promises, the sense that European integration dismantles the old Jacobin state that was France's soul and spine, hostility to Arabic and Black African immigrants, etc. The deepest reasons are, probably, the contradiction between the deregulation and competition imposed by European integration and the desire for a degree of protection induced by economic stagnation and unemployment; the contradiction between the awareness of the need for changes -- in social security, education, state-business relations, local government, etc. -- and the passionate resistance of groups such changes would shake up and deprive of their "acquired rights"; and the sense that in the last ten years or so, in that old monarchical republic, the monarchs have been weak and incapable of setting and explaining a course to a population hungry for pedagogic leadership.

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