Political Behavior

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 443–469 | Cite as

Toward the formation of a partisan alignment in France

  • Roy Pierce


This article investigates the extent to which and the ways in which a basic partisan alignment appeared to be forming in France between 1958 and 1988. During that period, the incidence of party identification rose from abnormally low to normal levels, and the composition of the alignment evolved from indeterminacy, through a left-right standoff, to Socialist party predominance. The basic question asked is how a partisan alignment is createdin the first place. The main elements of the answer suggested are by simplifying, clarifying, and stabilizing the terms of electoral choice. This process is traced closely, with special reference to the incidence of PI and the composition of the alignment by age in 1988, and including a comparison between France in 1968 and the U.S. in 1932. Finally, the fragility of the 1988 alignment is underscored. Comparatively new and shaped mainly by the partisan identifications of the younger citizens, the 1988 alignment was vulnerable to any weakening of the conditions that contributed to creating it. The party with the most to lose was the Socialist party, which had gained the most while the party system stabilized and the incidence of party identification rose.


Normal Level Special Reference Main Element Basic Question Party System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Butler, David, and Stokes, Donald E. (1969).Political Change in Britain: Forces Shaping Electoral Choice. New York: St. Martin's.Google Scholar
  2. Capdevielle, Jacques, et al. (1981).France de Gauche Vote à Droite. Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques.Google Scholar
  3. Carmines, Edward G. (1991). The logic of party alignments.Journal of Theoretical Politics 3: 65–80.Google Scholar
  4. Charlot, Jean (1986). La transformation de l'image des partis politiques français.Revue Française de Science Politique 36: 5–13.Google Scholar
  5. Converse, Philip E. (1969). Of time and partisan stability.Comparative Political Studies 2: 139–171.Google Scholar
  6. Converse, Philip E. (1976).The Dynamics of Party Support: Cohort-Analyzing Party Identification. Beverly Hills: Sage (Volume 35, Sage Library of Social Research).Google Scholar
  7. Converse, Philip E., and Dupeux, Georges (1962). Politicization of the Electorate in France and the United States.Public Opinion Quarterly 26 (Spring). Reprinted in: Campbell, Angus, Converse, Philip E., Miller, Warren E., and Stokes, Donald E. (1966).Elections and the Political Order. New York: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  8. Converse, Philip E., and Pierce, Roy (1986).Political Representation in France. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Dalton, Russell J. (1988).Citizen Politics in Western Democracies: Public Opinion and Political Parties in the United States, Great Britain, West Germany, and France. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House.Google Scholar
  10. Fougeyrollas, Pierre (1963).La Conscience politique dans la France contemporaine. Paris: Denoël.Google Scholar
  11. Jennings, M. Kent, and Markus, Gregory B. (1984). Partisan orientations over the long haul: Results from the Three-Wave Political Socialization Panel Study.American Political Science Review 78: 1000–1018.Google Scholar
  12. Lancelot, Alain (ed.) (1986).1981: Les Elections de l'alternance. Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques.Google Scholar
  13. Lewis-Beck, Michael S. (1984). France: The stalled electorate. In Russell J. Dalton, Scott C. Flanagan, and Paul Allen Beck (eds.),Electoral Change in Advanced Industrial Democracies: Realignment or Dealignment? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Lipset, Seymour Martin, and Rokkan, Stein (1967).Party Systems and Voter Alignments. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  15. Mair, Peter (1989). The problem of party system change.Journal of Theoretical Politics 1: 251–276.Google Scholar
  16. Percheron, Annick (1988). Classes d'âge en question.Revue Française de Science Politique 38: 107–124.Google Scholar
  17. Percheron, Annick (1989). Peut-on encore parler d'héritage politique en 1989? In Yves Mény (ed.),Idéologies, partis politiques et groupes sociaux. “Pour Georges Lavau.” Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques.Google Scholar
  18. Rae, Douglas W. (1967).The Political Consequences of Electoral Laws. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Schlesinger, Joseph A., and Schlesinger, Mildred (1990). The reaffirmation of a multiparty system in France.American Political Science Review 84: 1077–1101.Google Scholar
  20. Sondages (1952). No. 3. Numéro Spécial.Google Scholar
  21. Williams, Philip M. (1964).Crisis and Compromise: Politics in the Fourth Republic. London: Longmans.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roy Pierce
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of MichiganAnn Arbor

Personalised recommendations