The Neoliberal Turn that Never Was: Breaking with the Standard Narrative of Mitterrand's tournant de la rigueur - Sciences Po Access content directly
Journal Articles Contemporary European History Year : 2023

The Neoliberal Turn that Never Was: Breaking with the Standard Narrative of Mitterrand's tournant de la rigueur

Abstract

On 10 May 1981, French voters elected a socialist president, François Mitterrand, whose programmes promised to change their daily lives. Less than two years later, his government definitively endorsed economic austerity. The adverse international context, it was argued at the time, forced France to prioritise its European commitments over radical reform of capitalism. Since then, most commentators have interpreted this decision either as a betrayal by the socialist elites or as a symbol of their economic incompetence. This article reappraises these narratives. Based on archival research and a large body of lesser-known critical French-language scholarship, it contends that the 1983 austerity plan was neither a sudden shift nor a neoliberal turn. Without denying the crucial political and symbolic dimensions of the decisions of the left in 1983, the article also shows that the crucial stages of the liberalisation of French capitalism occurred in fact later in the decade.
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hal-04000208 , version 1 (22-02-2023)

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Mathieu Fulla. The Neoliberal Turn that Never Was: Breaking with the Standard Narrative of Mitterrand's tournant de la rigueur. Contemporary European History, 2023, pp.1-22. ⟨10.1017/S0960777322000881⟩. ⟨hal-04000208⟩

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