By Simon Bornschier and Romain Lachat

New structural potentials related to the processes of globalization and European integration have produced far-reaching changes in the structure of oppositions in the French party system. Whereas the newly designed institutions of the Fifth Republic progressively brought about a “bipolar multipartism” in the first two decades of their existence, the rising prominence of new cultural conflicts and of the issue of European integration have led to an increasing disunity of the parties within the left and right, to the emergence of the Front National as a powerful new actor, as well as to a general process of party system fragmentation. On the basis of four electoral campaigns between 1978 and 2002, this article analyzes the transformation of the ideological dimensions underlying party competition and the positions of parties within this space, and assesses the implications for the electoral success of parties and for the general make-up of the party system.



Online available: