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The issues of regionalism and green politics in the French Left, the role of the PSU

Tudi Kernalegenn
Université catholique de Louvain
Tudi Kernalegenn
Université catholique de Louvain
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Abstract

Political parties need to create their political space as unique and clearly specific in order to be credible in the political field. This political identity is notably created through the elaboration of an ideology, and the project and programs which are claimed to derive from it. The dynamic of creation of an identity is both internal – in order to develop coherence – and external. In fact, political parties have to take into account the projects of other parties. In order to understand better the question of issue competition, the paper will focus on the issues of regionalism and ecology in the French Unified Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste Unifié-PSU, party of the Prime Minister to be, Michel Rocard) in the 1960s and 1970s. Created in 1960 in order to regenerate the left, the PSU quickly became the laboratory of a new left between the compromises of principles of the old Socialist Party (SFIO/PS) and the ossification of the Communist Party (PCF). Regionalism in the 1960s and Green politics in the 1970s are two key issues, that were up to then neglected by the left wing parties, and that have been put forward by the PSU. We will focus on the introduction of those issues in the party and their justification. If part of this dynamic is internal, the explicit justifications are external: the ideological dynamism of the PSU is always contrasted to the propositions of the other left-wing parties. It will appear as well that the temporality of the issues rhetoric is linked to a great degree to external events (May-68, Common Programme between the PS and the PCF, elections, etc.). Eventually, we will show as well how the integration of part of the leadership of the PSU in the Socialist Party between 1972 and 1974 mainstreams those issues in the PS, which comes to power in 1981.