French Politics: Power, Actors and Issues in the 5th Republic

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Course Information
Political Science
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 

The aim of this course is to provide students with the keys for understanding the current debates and events in French politics, such as the national identity debate, the rise of the Front National, the role of France within the European Union and so on. The focus will be on developing an understanding of the main events, processes and ideas, which have shaped and influenced contemporary France and provide the backdrop to current problems and issues. The course will notably discuss the hypothesis of a decline of a “French model”. The course will first present the main actors within French politics by the study of its institutions, its culture, its ideological debates, and its historical roots (session 2 to 8). The course will then undertake the presentation and analysis of recent electoral trends, and the evolution of political discourse. This task will be based on the study of four key presidential elections (1981, 2002, 2007 and 2012) that will shed light on the causes and consequences of the transformation of the French party system and on current electoral trends (session 9 to 13). Finally, the international and European role of France and its perception by its partners will be discussed (session 14 & 15).