International dimensions of presidential campaigns under the Fifth Republic

Devalued as much by electoral sociology as by the academic discipline of international relations, the role played by « the international » in the heart of French presidential campaigns demonstrates that there are three dynamics simultaneously at work on them since 1965. The first underlines at what point the international scene provided a precious reservoir of resources for the credibility wars waged by the candidates. The second dynamic reveals that campaign debates on foreign policy constitute a mirror of the progressive de-ideolization of the themes in this domain. Above all, this leads to pinpoint the signs of a growing fracture in our country between a political class worried about maintaining the continuity between the left and the right, and an electorate more and more rebellious against this orientation on international questions. Finally, excited by factors such as new information technologies, economic interdependence or the end of the Cold War, the slow but more and more adequate maturation of French electors in international relations has a strong chance of making its mark on the rules of the game in the 2002 presidential election. – Summary AFRI-2001