The current leader of France is president, Jacques Chirac. He founded the Rally for the Republic political party. In France one must be the age of 18 to vote for officals such as the president. When a Franciscan reaches the age of 18, their are many political parties that they may choose to vote with.
The concept of Left and Right in describing political parties stems from the French Revolution. At that time, the radicals sat on the left side of the assembly and the conservatives sat on the right. Today, about five major political parties span the French spectrum from left to right. On the left are the Socialist Party and the smaller Communist Party. On the right are the Rally for the Republic (RPR), the Union for French Democracy (UDF) and the extremely conservative National Front.
The leftist parties support public ownership or control of most industries. The rightist parties want less government regulation of the economy. The RPR favors free enterprise but also a strong national government, a strong military and an independent foreign policy. The National Front (FN) strongly opposes immigration. Labor unions and the Green Party also exert pressure on the government.
In general, French liberals and conservatives today both believe in big government. When civic and economic problems arise, most citizens expect the government to take care of them.
Of course this was pre selection of a PS candidate. Many of the Socialists agreed with my analysis that once they had chosen the candidate, they needed to unite behind that candidate, resist their historic predilection for factionalism, run a campaign that was fresh, energetic and based upon a programme totally focused on the future and one which addressed people’s concerns. They agreed too that the PS could no longer look down its nose at communication, but had to see it not just as an essential element of campaigning, but a democratic duty at a time when people have so many pressures on their lives and living standards, and concerns about the world around them. But though they agreed with the analysis, some worried about the Party’s capacity to deliver upon it. The fear of another defeat ought to be enough, surely, to deliver on the first and essential part: unity. As someone on the progressive side of the political divide, I continue to think the French left’s over intellectualisation of politics, its focus on never-ending debate instead of agreement around big points and unity behind one accepted leader remains a problem.