This book analyses the French political crisis, which has entered its most acute phase in more than thirty years with the break-up of traditional left and right social blocs. Governing parties have distanced themselves from the working classes, leaving behind on the one hand craftsmen, shop owners and small entrepreneurs disappointed by the timidity of the reforms of the neoliberal right and, on the other hand, workers and employees hostile to the neoliberal and pro-European integration orientation of the Socialist Party. The presidency of François Hollande was less an anomaly than the definitive failure of attempts to reconcile the social base of the left with the so-called modernisation of the French model. The project, based on the pursuit of neoliberal reforms, did not die with Hollande’s failure; it was taken up and radicalised by his successor, Emmanuel Macron. This project needs a social base, the bourgeois bloc, designed to overcome the right–left divide by a new alliance between the middle and upper classes. But this, as we have seen recently on the streets of Paris and elsewhere, is a precarious process.
“In the authors’ view, all the major parties in France have given up on the traditional postwar ‘social-liberal’ compromise that combined moves toward fluid labor markets, external openness, and EU cooperation with continued redistribution, social solidarity, and upward mobility.”