"Political parties are tempted to bring together economic fears and cultural fears"

In the 1970s, conservatism on issues of authority, manners, gender or xenophobic prejudices was much stronger than today. But, as sociologist Vincent Tiberj points out, they were not connected to political choices. Voters first and foremost responded to their socio-economic values.

Interviewed by Anne Dujin Posted today at 15.13 pm

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Vincent Tiberj is professor of universities at Sciences Po Bordeaux. He is a specialist in electoral sociology. He published in particular The citizens who come. How generational renewal transforms politics in France (PUF, 2017).

Are cultural or social values ​​essential to understand what it means to be left or right today?

Yes, without making the classic economic and social variables about redistribution or the position of the state in the regulation of the economy obsolete. This is what I have called the policy of the two axes: on the one hand a socio-economic axis and on the other hand an axis of more or less openness to social or cultural issues.

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Both are needed to understand the political positioning of voters and parties today. But this phenomenon is first and foremost a change in the offer of political parties: do not believe that voters suddenly began to give new importance to cultural issues to position themselves politically.

Cultural gaps existed in the population long before they became the subject of political debate. In the 1970s, conservatism on issues of authority, manners, gender or xenophobic prejudices, for example, were very common and much stronger than today. But they were not connected to political choices. Voters were not politically socialized through them. We voted first and foremost on the basis of socio-economic values.

When does the phenomenon date?

In France, cultural values ​​were politicized between 1988 and 1995. The left then added cultural openness to the political offer, alongside socio-economic issues. For the right it is in the years 2002-2007, with Sarkozy, that structure the two axes. The most visible effect is that of the progress of the workers' vote on the right, thanks to the confirmation of conservative cultural values. The 2017 election saw the confirmation of this polarization along two axes. So we have witnessed a quadripartition of political space: the "socio-libertarians," represented by the PS, Ecology-The Greens and Insubordinate France; the "liberal-authoritarian" represented by the Republicans; the & # 39; socio-authoritarian & # 39; represented by the National Front; the libero-libertarians, represented by La République and marche.