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The post-war settlement was essentially brokered between the Gaullists, who held (mostly) the levers of power, with an able contesting partner accross the negotiating table in the persons of the PCF and the CGT. The post-war settlement and what was acheived in terms of social progress essentially was the result of that partnership, and in many aspects should probably be considered more a patriarchal capitalism, with a strong sense of social responsability, buttressed by a strong PCF and left unions who kept the other side honest.
The PS has always been the odd man out in this configuration, and its attempts to insert itself into the settlement in order to push the interests of its electorate (the PS is and pretty much always has been a petit bourgeois party, core electorate being functionaries and especially the corps of teachers) have been mostly contested by both the historical left and the right as well. Jérôme, a perfect representative of the PS view, would often joke with me about my party tendancy to "collaborate" with the right, this is a fairly strong current of opinion within the PS to decredibilise those to their left, with increasingly weak results.
Now, what we are seeing is that the PS insertion into that settlement is seen by popular opinion as illegitimate. This government, and not just Hollande, is plumbing the depths of democratic credibility, and in so doing is setting the stage for a crushing majority for a right which has shed its Gaullist sense of social responsability. And, in the extreme divisiveness the present government is employing in attempting to maintain legitimacy, it is consciously undermining the remnants of the actual left which contributed to the social post-war settlement, and which could actually continue to act as a counterpoint to the crushing majorities that the right parties are likely to enjoy in 10 months time.
France may look like a social democracy, but it really isn't one, and François Hollande's presidency, far from protecting the post-war settlement, is fatally undermining it. This is a reason for the street protests, the strikes without end. And it is the reason that Jean-Luc Mélenchon, imperfect as he is, is far more popular on the left than anyone associated with François Hollande or Manuel Valls.
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