Yann Raison du Cleuziou is a lecturer in political science at the University of Bordeaux. A specialist in the political history and sociology of French Catholicism, he is notably the author ofA Catholic counter-revolution. The origins of the Manif pour tous (Threshold, 2019). He co-edited, with Florian Michel, known for his work on the intellectual and cultural history of Catholicism, the book To the right of the father. Catholics and the Right from 1945 to the present day, which has just been published (Seuil, 672 pages).
This sum dissects what is sometimes taken for granted: the tendency of Catholics to support the right. However, the authors show the complexity of the phenomenon, emphasizing in particular that Catholics have been actors in the modernization of French society – even if some are now tempted by a conservative withdrawal.
We tend to associate Catholics with the right. But is this true electorally?
This identification has been a commonplace in our political imaginations since the end of the 18th century.e century. However, if we try to go beyond these somewhat caricatural representations, we realize that we know very little about this subject. And the relationships between the multiple sensitivities of Catholicism and the different rights are more complex than it seems. The plural is important here. Another determining factor is that these relationships are not stable; they sometimes stretch out to reaffirm themselves at other times.
To describe this changing universe, a distinction is necessary between Catholics on the right and Catholics on the right. The former constitute a structuring cultural fact under the Ve Republic: they vote for the right of government in a massive way. This orientation is all the more stable in that it is based on a collective mentality rooted in the long term and forged by all the struggles common to the right and to Catholics. And then, on a smaller but decisive scale, there are right-wing Catholics, who are activists working to religiously orient the right. The weight of Catholics on the right conditions the political credit of Catholics on the right…
Left-wing Catholics represent about 25% of the vote of practicing Catholics. Moreover, support for the right of government traditionally translated into strong resistance to the extreme right. However, since 2015, this dam has been eroding, without it being specifically a Catholic phenomenon, since the dynamic favorable to the extremes extends to all of French society.
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Yann Raison du Cleuziou: “The relationship between the multiple sensitivities of Catholicism and the different rights are more complex than it seems”
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