France Recent History
The presidential elections of 1981 saw Mitterrand’s sensational statement about Giscard. Mitterrand endeavored to characterize government action in a profoundly innovative sense, proceeding among other things to nationalize the main industries and some banks. However, the very serious internal repercussions of the international crisis forced the government to enact severe austerity measures, which contributed to a massive fall in the sympathies of the electorate towards the government, the Socialist Party (PS) and the president himself. In March 1986 Chirac became Prime Minister of the Raggruppamento per la Repubblica (RPR); even if the main novelty of those consultations was the affirmation of the National Front (FN), a far-right formation of J.-M. Le Pen. The center-right coalition undertook a policy of economic recovery based on a large privatization, which did not, however, give the desired results. The presidential elections of 1988 (April-May) therefore saw the reconfirmation of Mitterrand; but the lack of an absolute majority in parliament prevented the president from forming a solid government. After a series of short-term technical executives, the legislative elections of 1993 sanctioned the affirmation of the moderate front (RPR and UDF), which obtained an absolute majority; which resulted, for the second time, in a forced cohabitation between the socialist Mitterrand and a right-wing government led by É. Balladur. In the field of foreign policy, France was working, starting from the second half of the Eighties, for the construction of a preferential axis with the German government, but also in view of a strong relaunch of its presence in the world, playing an important role in the main crises internationals of the early nineties (Gulf War, Somalia, Yugoslavia, etc.). Tired and in poor health, Mitterrand concluded his second seven-year term in 1995 with a definitely positive personal balance.
He was succeeded by Chirac, winner of the ballot against the socialist candidate L. Jospin. But the strong consensus (15.2%) obtained in the first round by the leader of the National Front, Le Pen, confirmed the tendency of a certain electorate to radicalise itself on openly fascist positions. The policy of Prime Minister A. Juppé, based on the reduction of welfare and on the increase of taxes and contributions, in addition to the dissensions provoked around the world by Chirac’s decision to resume nuclear tests, contributed to weaken the new leadership, so much so that the president soon had to order the interruption of the experiments, reassuring the willingness of France to commit itself to reaching a global disarmament agreement (January 1996). In the European field, Chirac confirmed H. Kohl’s privileged relationship with Germany and the will to arrive at the single currency without hesitation, scheduled for 1999. In the same year (1996) the early elections recorded the clear success of the socialists of Jospin, who became prime minister (among other measures, his government was responsible for the reduction to 35 hours of weekly work with equal salary). But despite the commitment to safeguard social policy, in the 2002 presidential elections the prime minister was dramatically overtaken in the first round by Le Pen who came out the winner along with Chirac. In the wake of a massive mobilization against the leader of the National Front of a large part of public opinion, national and international, Chirac was reconfirmed president with the highest percentage of support in the history of republican France (82.2%). L’ J.-P. Raffarin. In June of the same year, the legislative elections still showed very strong abstention (close to 40%) and rewarded the new single party of the right, the Union for the presidential majority (UMP). The drop in the left is very clear, no seats on the National Front. Strengthened by another electoral triumph, Chirac confirmed Raffarin at the helm of the government. In the international crisis, which erupted in 2002 between the United States and Iraq and culminated in the war that broke out on March 20, 2003, France, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, opposed an armed solution to the conflict and called for peaceful disarmament. of Iraq. Internally, still in 2003, the Raffarin government achieved an important political success by managing to reform the pension system, despite the opposition of an important part of the union. In February 2004, the National Assembly passed a law banning the wearing of signs or clothes displaying religious symbols in public schools. The difficult economic situation the country went through during 2003 led the government to propose welfare reforms that created discomfort for large sections of the population and unpopularity, but despite the failures in the other electoral consultations of 2004 (regional and European), Chirac rejected Raffarin’s resignation and instructed him to form a new government. In May 2005 the consultative referendum was held for the approval of the new European Constitution which saw the unfavorable prevail: France was the first country to reject this project.
Following the negative vote in the referendum, Raffarin resigned and Dominique de Villepin was appointed in his place. In November he was faced with the emergency of the revolt of young Maghrebi in the banlieues, which lasted for two weeks, to which the government reacted by decreeing a state of emergency for three months. At the beginning of 2006, to counter the growing unemployment, the Parliament, on a proposal from the government, approved the contract of first employment, which provided for the hiring of young people under the age of 26 with the possibility of firing them within the first two years. This measure provoked protests from students and trade unions across the country until the premier withdrew the disputed provision. In May 2007, presidential elections were held in which Nicolas Sarkozy, former interior minister and center-right candidate, and Sègolene Royal, the first woman to run for the presidency of the Republic, nominated by the socialists, competed. In the second round, Sarkozy won with 53% of the votes, while Royal obtained 46.9%. Subsequently Sarkozy appointed François Fillon premier. In June of the same year, the legislative elections won by the UMP took place. In February 2008, Parliament ratified the European Treaty and in July approved a constitutional reform that limited presidential mandates to two and strengthened parliamentary powers. In 2010, despite criticism from the European Union, President Sarkozy decided to close the nomad camps inhabited by Roma and repatriate many of them to Romania. The first round of the presidential elections in May 2012 saw the success of Marine Le Pen and the head-to-head between Sarkozy and the socialist candidate F. Hollande, who won the ballot becoming, after seventeen years, the second socialist president. In the subsequent elections in June for the renewal of the National Assembly, the Socialist Party achieved an absolute majority with 300 seats out of 577. Jean-Marc Ayrault became Prime Minister until March 2014, when he was replaced by Manuel Valls (Socialist Party). In 2013, France decided to intervene in the Malian civil war, against the Islamic rebels, by sending a contingent of soldiers. Following the statements of the economy minister A. Montebourg criticizing the country’s economic policy, in August 2014 the resignation of the government led by Valls was announced, which was nevertheless instructed by President Hollande to form a new executive. In January 2015, Paris was devastated by a series of Islamist attacks, including the one inside the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. In November of the same year, the capital was hit again by terrorists linked to the Islamic State, who caused the death of over 100 people with a series of attacks. In July 2016, a new terrorist attack hit Nice, killing 86 people. To face the world economic crisis and the terrorist threat, Hollande took unpopular and ineffective measures, which diminished his consensus. Hence the decision not to run for a second term. The 2017 presidential election saw the victory of the centrist independent candidate Emmanuel Macron and the appointment of E. Philippe as premier. The increase in the price of fuel, the high cost of living and a tax burden deemed unbalanced in favor of the wealthy classes, led to the birth of a protest movement against the government in October 2018. Protests by the Yellow Vests sometimes resulted in violent urban riots. In December 2018, a new terrorist attack hit Strasbourg, killing five people.