N° 43, 2014/1 – Opposed in Diversity: The Uses of Opposition to Europe in France


edited by Christophe Bouillaud, Emmanuelle Reungoat, 2014/1 (n°43)


Special Report


Christophe Bouillaud, Emmanuelle Reungoat – All Against? From Euroskepticism to the Uses of Criticizing Europe


Nicolas Azam – Europeanization and Dynamic of Party Change. The French Communist Party and the European Union (1989-1999)

The French Communist Party is often classified among the “euroskeptic parties. However, it has in recent decades revised its official political line on European issues. Through a processual and relational approach of political competition, this paper demonstrates that this evolution is explained by partisan transformations. The struggle on EU issues is linked to a redefinition of partisan identity in order to legitimize the party and to a change of internal rules.


Fabien Escalona, Mathieu Vieira – The meaning and the role of the resistance to the EU for the Left Party

This article focuses on opposition to Europe from the socialist dissenters who founded the Left Party and co-founded the Left Front. We argue that opposition to Europe is not only a form of resistance to European integration, but also a catalyst of dissent, a tool for mobilization and differentiation towards the Socialist party, and a way to define the boundaries of the “other left”. The article deals with the ideological meaning and strategic use of opposition to Europe, which has played a significant role in the political enterprise of unifying socialist dissenters.


Martin Baloge – What is the Price of Opposition? Characteristics and Consequences of Eurocriticism among French and German MP’s in the UMP, CDU/ CSU and FDP Parties

The 2012 votes on the European Fiscal Compact and the European Stability Mechanism enabled a few French and German MPs to contest their party’s position on this matter. We conduct a comparative analysis of the processes which led to these parliamentarians opposition and of the consequences of their votes on their political career. We show that these intra-partisan oppositions are focused on different stakes in France and Germany and that, in Germany, partisan discipline led to the control and in some cases to the exclusion of dissidents.


Emmanuelle Reungoat – Mobilizing Europe in the National Competition. A Study of the Europeanization of the French National Front

The study of the “uses of Europe by the leaders of the Front national shows how the opening of a new European political space can have indirect effects, in supporting political parties at the domestic level and strengthening specific actors inside political organizations. The European theme, elections and parliamentary institution are transformed by FN leaders into material as well as symbolic resources, mobilized in the national political space at both inter- and intra-party level. These uses of Europe reinforce the capacity for action of the party as well as its legitimacy and visibility. It helps FN actors to widen their electorate and helps the party president to strengthen her own position inside the party. The article reveals the relative specificity of the FN case and underlines that these “uses of Europe by political actors are linked to contextual and institutional factors, as well as to the ideological, cultural and organizational dimensions of political parties. In that regard, the study emphasizes strong continuity in the practices of the FN leadership. The analysis finally shows the concrete process of the Europeanization of the FN and helps us understand the impact of European integration on domestic political competition.


Humberto Cucchetti – The Royalist’s Organization Action Francaise against European Union. Intellectual and Activists Relationship between Royalism and Souverainism Movements

The history of Action Française (AF) since the end of World War II shows how this royalist organization has opposed successive governments European policies. In spite of several crises and weak membership, AF’s description of the European Union as an abandonment of national sovereignty has a legacy. To explain this legacy, it is essential to understand relations between royalism and sovereigntism among intellectuals and activists. We analyze the individual and collectives trajectories of AF members to show the circulation of ideas and persons inside this alternative field.


Romain Blancaneaux – The European Parliament, a transmission belt for opponents to the European Commission. Wine producers against the liberalization of planting rights

In 2009 and 2010, the European and French parliaments opposed the European Commission’s reform of the European wine policy. Their opposition gained force through a coalition of professional and political agents who took the battle from Brussels to Paris. This article takes an institutional and parliamentary perspective, integrating a public policy angle, in order to understand how political and professional agents act in different institutional spaces. It prepares the ground for understanding the relations between Parliaments and public policies, a subject upon which the current literature still remains limited.


Laurence Jourdain – How to Advocate for “Another Europe” in Brussels? The Case of ALTER-EU

This article focuses on the transnational ALTER-EU Collective’s campaign for the regulation of lobbying and, ultimately, for an overhaul of the EU’s decisionmaking process. It highlights the limits of the categories commonly used to define the different forms of opposition to Europe and proposes to qualify ALTEREU’s posture as “reformist”: at the same time as claiming its place among the supporters of “another Europe”, the Collective’s policy is to act within existing institutions, rather than calling for a “clean slate”. We can explain this posture both as a strategic choice and as the result of a necessary compromise: while some of its founders were more critical of the EU, a reformist posture has enabled ALTER-EU to make its voice heard in Brussels and to federate its members. That said, this case study also shows the constraints and the contradictions faced by social actors who try to oppose Europe within the European system, because the resources and strategies that have enabled ALTER-EU to act in Brussels have paradoxically contributed to limiting its ability to mobilize and therefore, perhaps, its capacity to transform Europe.


Areas of Research


Fanny Sbaraglia – Testing the European Social Fund in Deindustrializing Regions. The Cases of Wallonia and the Irish Midwest