Breaking the Gaullian Mould: Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and the Modernisation of French Presidential Communication (2005)

Author(s): Michel F

    Abstract: This article examines former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's use of television to assert his presidential authority and to promote a new, modernised and informal style of communication in sharp contrast with his Gaullist predecessors' aloof and dramatic personas. The article focuses on three television programmes, each of which highlights some key ideas at the heart of Giscard d'Estaing's modernised presidential communication: the desacralisation of the presidential office; ‘accountability’ (displayed empathy for the electorate's preoccupations) and ‘décrispation’ or the neutralisation of presidential rhetoric. It also illustrates the growing personalisation of French political communication in the 1970s. It is argued that the difficulties encountered by Giscard d'Estaing to break the ‘Gaullian mould’ and adopt a more casual style of leadership without jeopardising the prestige associated with the presidential office may have helped his successors to better define their styles of communication and thus set an important precedent in the development of French presidential communication.

      • Date: 01-08-2005
      • Journal: Modern and Contemporary France
      • Volume: 13
      • Issue: 3
      • Pages: 291-306
      • Publisher: Routledge
      • Publication type: Article
      • Bibliographic status: Published

      Dr Franck Michel
      Senior Lecturer