The 1965 “Tele-presidential” Elections
This chapter provides an overview of the electoral campaign for the presidency of the Republic in December 1965, the first decided by universal suffrage. This was an innovative campaign characterised by the way in which television encouraged the growing personalisation of and the uses of spectacle in French politics. In this election opposition candidates were for the first time allowed to appear on television; some of them accordingly hired expert advisors from the world of advertising and communication in order to enhance their public appeal. De Gaulle’s choice not to appear on television during the first round was widely seen as responsible for his failure to win the election outright at this stage and the consequent need for the election to go into a second round of voting. During this second round, pressure was placed on him to accept the celebrated advertiser Michel Bongrand as an advisor for the campaign. Through an analysis of all French electoral departments, Brizzi questions the received wisdom about the election; the results obtained in his survey contradict the popular hypothesis of electoral “telecracy” and any direct relationship between television and de Gaulle’s electoral success.