A French political movement with a diffuse ideology. Although it has developed into a movement on the political right, it contains elements drawn from across the political spectrum, from the Action Française to the Socialist Party (SFIO). It seeks to realize the aims of de Gaulle, particularly achieving unity among the French people through a patriotic and independent foreign policy. In 1947 de Gaulle founded the RPF (Rassemblement du Peuple Français, Union of the French People), which he hoped would gather enough popular support for his constitutional idea of a strong presidency. By 1952 it was clear that the RPF had failed, whereupon it was disbanded and de Gaulle was left in the political wilderness.
Upon his return to office in 1958, de Gaulle founded the UNR (Union pour la Nouvelle République, Union for the New Republic), whose leader, Pompidou, became Prime Minister in 1962 in a coalition government with Giscard d'Estaing. Renamed the UDR (Union des Democrates pour la Ve République, Union of the Democrats for the Fifth Republic) in 1968, the movement was relaunched by Chirac as the RPR (Rassemblement pour la République, Union for the Republic) in 1976. The Gaullists held the major offices of power until 1974, when Giscard d'Estaing became President, though he appointed Chirac as Prime Minister. They did not recapture the presidency until 1995, under Chirac. Towards the end of his first term, Chirac had become unpopular owing to divisions within his own party, and allegations of corruption. Chirac led the initiative to merge the RPR and a number of smaller parties on the right to form the UMP in 2002, which allowed him to win a second term that year.
Subjects: Politics — Contemporary History (Post 1945).