Les Années Chirac I (1995-2002)

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  • Les Années Chirac I (1995-2002)
    • 1995 Presidential Elections
      • The left was traumatised by the defeat in 1993 General election
        • The PS thought they had little hope of winning, and so put forward Lionel Jospin as a token candidate
          • Jospin wanted the left to be more honest and get back to their roots as a party for the people
            • The PS had been criticised as having left their core electorate behind
            • Former education minister
            • Had problems with charisma
            • Was a massive shock when Jospin got through to the second round with 23.3% of the votes
          • Mitterrand had left a big gap as he had been the leader of the left for over 25years
      • The RPR had two candidates in the first round
        • Jaques Chirac
          • Chirac took the role of the more progressive candidate
            • Due to the fact that there was a rival candidate on the right from the RPR, Chirac was bale to distance himself from his conservative base to adopt a more liberal stance
              • Campaign was 'fresh'- JC tried to convey the sense of a new beginning
                • Rassembler, Partarger, Renouveau
              • Jospin and Chirac went through to the second round with 23.3% and 20.84% respectively
                • HOWEVER in the first round Jean-Marie Le Pen got 15% of the votes, and it was clear that the FN's popularity was rising
                • Chirac won the election with 52.64% of the vote. Possibly benefitted from the voters who voted for Balladur and other parties in the first round
        • Edouard Balladur
    • Alain Juppé's Government
      • Former Minister of Foreign Affairs for Balladur's government, Alain Juppé was named JC's new PM
        • Had the difficult task of carrying out reforms in order to fulfil Chirac's election promises of a 'new beginning' for France
          • Reform France's costly health and pensions system
            • At the time, Civil Servants had very generous retirement conditions, with some people being able to retire in their 50s
            • Both the health and pensions system were in severe defecit
          • Needed to reduce the State deficit in order for France to meet the EU requirements for the single currency
            • In December 1995, public protests and strikes against the government were the biggest carried out since May 1968
              • Against the social security reforms
              • Put the country to a standstill for an entire month and was supported by the major unions (CGT, CFDT, FO)
                • Juppé initially took a very firm stance on the reforms, using the expression "être droit dans ses bottes" (digging your heels ni)
                  • HOWEVER, he eventually had to give in
                    • The people felt as JC had betrayed his campaign which was led on a basis of 'fracture sociale' (social divide) and anti-austerity, in which he promised to reduce the gap between the rich and poor
                      • No government until now has tried to revisit these reforms due to the severe backlash they received
                      • Strikes happened only 6 months after the election
    • Foreign Policy
      • Chirac was very proactive in terms of international affairs
        • JC supports the UN's active intervention in former Yougolsalvia
          • Civil war- JC tries to aid in diffusing the tension with the acceptance of the 'Rapid Reaction Force' in the UN
            • Had a plan for the modernisation of the French Army
              • Put an end to conscription for 18 year olds
                • Phased it out between 1995-2002, trimmed down the French Army to make it more efficient
      • Controversy when JC resumed nuclear testing of French missles in the Pacific Ocean
        • Testing had been suspended by Mitterrand
        • Real anti-French backlash in the USA by anti-nuclear war supporters
          • Was a boycott of French products
            • JC was in charge of implementing the Euro in France
              • Relations in the Middle-East and Israeli-Palestinian were tense
                • JC openly supported Plaestine and fell out with the Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu
          • France was isolated form the international community for a while
          • After several months, Chirac decided to stop testing and reversed the policy
    • The 1997 Dissolution
      • Juppe's reforms did not succeed and he had to back down
        • There was a record level of unpopularity for Juppé's cabinet and JC's presidency
        • JC argued that he needed a fresh majority in order to be able to carry out reforms
          • The French people were dubious about this, and thought that he was planning another austerity plan.
            • The public weren't convinced by AJ's arguments and so voted to change the majority
            • The FN also played a major role in taking a lot of votes from the RPR and UDF's majority
              • After the victory of the labour party on 1st May 1997 in the UK, it was the turn of the French left to take back power on 1st June 1997
                • JC lost his majority barely 2 years after he was elected
      • In March 1997, Chirac announces a surprising decision to dissolve the Assemblée National
        • Juppe's reforms did not succeed and he had to back down
          • There was a record level of unpopularity for Juppé's cabinet and JC's presidency
          • JC argued that he needed a fresh majority in order to be able to carry out reforms
            • The French people were dubious about this, and thought that he was planning another austerity plan.
              • The public weren't convinced by AJ's arguments and so voted to change the majority
              • The FN also played a major role in taking a lot of votes from the RPR and UDF's majority
                • After the victory of the labour party on 1st May 1997 in the UK, it was the turn of the French left to take back power on 1st June 1997
                  • JC lost his majority barely 2 years after he was elected
    • The "Gauche Pluriel"
      • The victory of the French left meant that JC was forced to "cohabiter"
        • This was the longest period of cohabitation in French history as it lasted 5 years
          • Previous cohabitations had only lasted 2
          • The new "red, pink and green" coalition was named the "gauche plurielle
            • It was made up of the socialists, communists and the greens
      • Lionel Jospin, leader of the PS, was named the new PM
        • The coalitation was named "plurielle" as all the parties didn't necessarily always share the same opinions but they did have a lot of common values
    • Jospin's government
      • Lasted between 1997-2002
        • Lionel Jospin, leader of the PS, was named the new PM
          • The coalitation was named "plurielle" as all the parties didn't necessarily always share the same opinions but they did have a lot of common values
      • JC was considerably weakened politically by the defeat and very criticised
        • This meant that the president adopted a lax role and Jospin's government became more involved in France's affairs
      • The Guache Plurielle was lucky as from 1998 the economy improved and there was a restart of growth
        • In 1998, unemployment went down for the first time in 7 years
          • The World cup effect in 1998 also had a huge impact on government popularity, which rose
            • This created a very positive climate in France and was good for the economy
      • On 1st January 2002, Chirac and Jospin celebrated the introduction of the Euro and the replacement of the Franc
        • The main measure of the Jospin government was the introduction of the 35 hour working week
          • Replaced the previous 39 hour week
          • Jospin used this policy as he thought it would aid job creation
            • The rationale was that less hours would mean that there would be more jobs available and therefore a fall in unemployment
              • Overall, over the 5 years of the Guache Pulrielle , France was economically prosperous
                • Unemployment reduced significantly
                  • HOWEVER, it could be said that these were just surface level measures, the true causes of unemployment were not addressed
                    • In the 2001 financial crash, these measures fell through and unemployment increased again
          • Jospin also created 150,000 "emplois-jeunes" in the public sector
            • The aim was to help young French people re-enter into the job market
            • These jobs were subsidised by the government and reserved for young people
            • Creation of the PACS (Pacte Civile de Solidarité) was created
              • Allowed the civil union of same-sex couples in France
              • There was a referendum on the reduction of the presidential term from 7 to 5years on 24th September 2000
                • 73.21% of French people approved the reform
                  • HOWEVER there was only 30% turnout- which was very low
          • A law stating that an equal number of Men and Women should be in French political life
            • Loi sur la parité
    • 2002 Presidential Elections
      • The 2002 elections had a very sombre tone
        • Since the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers, L'insécurité (petty crime and violence) had become the number 1 priority of the French
          • JC, who was running for his second term, accused LJ of being too lax on security when he was PM
            • Chirac couldn't campaign on the economy as LJ had done a good job in regards to that aspect and so instead focuses on l'insécurité
            • LJ had difficulties defending himself and committed a grave error when he admitted he had been a little niave on l'insécurité
              • There was also a weariness surrounding cohabitation
                • The public believed that the president would either be Chirac or Jospin
                  • This boredom with the current political landscape may have encouraged voters to stay at home
                • The left wasn't united at all, and Jospin was severely weakened by this
                  • By contrast, the right united under JC
                    • In 2002, the RPR and the majority of UDF MP's decided to merge into one party under JC (UMP)
                      • Union pour la majorité présedentielle
                        • After the elections it became Union pour un Mouvement Populaire
        • Was a climate of fear
          • Since the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers, L'insécurité (petty crime and violence) had become the number 1 priority of the French
            • JC, who was running for his second term, accused LJ of being too lax on security when he was PM
              • Chirac couldn't campaign on the economy as LJ had done a good job in regards to that aspect and so instead focuses on l'insécurité
              • LJ had difficulties defending himself and committed a grave error when he admitted he had been a little niave on l'insécurité
                • There was also a weariness surrounding cohabitation
                  • The public believed that the president would either be Chirac or Jospin
                    • This boredom with the current political landscape may have encouraged voters to stay at home
                  • The left wasn't united at all, and Jospin was severely weakened by this
                    • By contrast, the right united under JC
                      • In 2002, the RPR and the majority of UDF MP's decided to merge into one party under JC (UMP)
                        • Union pour la majorité présedentielle
                          • After the elections it became Union pour un Mouvement Populaire
      • It came a a HUGE shock when Lionel Jospin was eliminated in the first round by Jean-Marie le Pen
        • Could be seen as a demonstration that the root causes of racism in France had not been addressed by the government
        • This was a blessing in disguise for Chirac as all parties rallied behind him in order to prevent the FN getting into power
          • On 5th May 2002, JC was reelected for 5 years with 82.21% of the vote
            • JM-lP only got 17.79% of the vote

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