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A French political party founded in 1978 by Giscard d'Estaing. In 1966 he had set up the FNRI (Fédération Nationale des Républicains Indépendants, Independent Republican Party) out of the small rump of members of the CNI (Centre Nationale des Indépendants, National Centre of Independents) who had supported de Gaulle's Algerian policy in 1962. The FNRI was boosted by Giscard's election to the presidency in 1974. The President formed the UDF to create a broad non‐Gaullist centre‐right party out of the FNRI and other smaller parties, such as the Radicals. Thereafter, the UDF regularly gained around 20 per cent fewer seats than the Gaullists, with whom it held government 1978–81, 1986–8, and 1993–7. Often referred to as Giscardistes, the party subscribed to the ideas of individual liberalism and social reform outlined by its founder and leader in his book Démocratie française (1976). In 1996, Giscard d'Estaing was succeeded as party leader by the former Minister of Defence (1993–5), François Léotard. The UDF experienced a deep crisis in 1997–8, when in the general elections it lost half of its seats in the National Assembly, while Léotard was formally charged with money laundering. The party split, and, led by François Bayrou, it suffered an even worse fate in 2002, when it was eclipsed by the UMP and gained but 29 seats. Formerly a movement created for the advancement of Giscard d'Estaing, it was at pains to establish a new popular agenda. In 2007 it split yet further, after Bayrou's good showing in the presidential elections encouraged him to form a new political movement, the Democratic Movement.http://www.udf.orgThe official website of the UDF.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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