Five Theses on the French Left

thecurrentmoment

As an antidote to the snide gossip that passes for analysis of French politics at the moment, and in line with our broader reflection on the state of the European left, here are five theses on the French left that we hope might go some way to explaining the present impasse.

1. The French Socialist Party remains haunted by François Mitterrand’s u-turn in 1983-4. Elected on a platform of ‘Keynesianism in one country’, Mitterrand was forced to choose between spending more money and keeping the Franc within the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). Outsiders were betting he couldn’t do both and they were right. After much discussion with his anti-ERM “visiteurs du soir”, he opted to follow the advice of his finance ministry and give up his Keynesian policies. But instead of declaring a clean break with socialism, Mitterrand presented his decision as an embracing of Europe. Market-friendly…

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