Political representation in France: a crisis of democracy?

James G. Shields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The past two decades have witnessed growing political disaffection and a widening mass/elite disjuncture in France, reflected in opinion polls, rising abstentionism, electoral volatility and fragmentation, with sustained voting against incumbent governments. Though the electoral system has preserved the duopoly of the mainstream coalitions, they have suffered loss of public confidence and swings in electoral support. Stable parliamentary majorities conceal a political landscape of assorted anti-system parties and growing support for far right and far left. The picture is paradoxical: the French express alienation from political parties yet relate positively to their political institutions; they berate national politicians but retain strong bonds with those elected locally; they appear increasingly disengaged from politics yet forms of ‘direct democracy’ are finding new vigour. While the electoral, attitudinal and systemic factors reviewed here may not signal a crisis of democracy, they point to serious problems of political representation in contemporary France.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-137
Number of pages20
JournalParliamentary Affairs
Volume59
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006

Fingerprint

France
democracy
direct democracy
opinion poll
electoral system
political institution
alienation
fragmentation
voting
politician
coalition
elite
confidence
politics

Bibliographical note

Winner of the American Political Science Association’s Stanley Hoffmann Award (2007-09) for the best article on French politics from 223 articles in 112 journals across 22 countries.

Keywords

  • France
  • politics
  • democracy
  • political representation
  • mass/elite disjuncture
  • electoral volatility

Cite this

Shields, James G. / Political representation in France: a crisis of democracy?. In: Parliamentary Affairs. 2006 ; Vol. 59, No. 1. pp. 118-137.
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Political representation in France: a crisis of democracy? / Shields, James G.

In: Parliamentary Affairs, Vol. 59, No. 1, 01.2006, p. 118-137.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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