National Centre of Independents and Peasants

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National Centre of Independents and Peasants
Centre national des indépendants et paysans
Leader Gilles Bourdouleix
Founded January 6, 1949 (as CNI)
February 15, 1951 (as CNIP)
Headquarters 6, rue Quentin Bauchart 75008 Paris
Ideology Conservatism,
Classical liberalism,
Political position Centre-right
International affiliation none
European affiliation none
Colours Blue, Red
National Assembly
1 / 577
0 / 348
European Parliament
0 / 74
Regional Councils
0 / 1,880
Politics of France
Political parties

The National Centre of Independents and Peasants (Centre National des Indépendants et Paysans, CNI) is a liberal-conservative and conservative-liberal political party in France, founded in 1951 by the merger of the National Centre of Independents (the heir of the French Republican conservative-liberal tradition, many party members came from the Democratic Republican Alliance) with the Peasant Party and the Republican Party of Liberty.

The CNI and its predecessors were classical liberal and economically liberal parties opposed to the dirigisme of the left, centre and Gaullist right.


Fourth Republic[edit]

The CNI was founded in January 1949 with the aim of uniting centre-right and right-wing parliamentarians, dispersed between a plethora of parties such as the Republican Party of Liberty and other modérés (moderates). It adopted its current name in 1951 after it merged with Paul Antier's small Peasant Party.

As the leading right-wing during the Fourth Republic, it won around 14% of the vote in 1951 and 1956 and participated in Third Force government coalitions, taking a major role in governments at the beginning of the 1950s. Antoine Pinay, its most popular figure, was Prime Minister in 1952, followed by Joseph Laniel from 1953-1954. René Coty, a CNIP parliamentarian, was elected President of France in 1953. The party's power declined after the Dien Bien Phu military disaster in Indochina in 1954, and it remained in opposition for most of the last two years of the Fourth Republic after the 1956 elections.

The CNIP was an anti-communist party, strongly supported and financed by employers, colonial and agricultural lobbies.[1] While the CNIP was more economically liberal than the Christian democratic Popular Republican Movement (MRP), like the MRP it supported European integration and NATO. It was, however, a militant defender of French Algeria throughout the Algerian War.

Fifth Republic[edit]

In 1958, it supported Charles de Gaulle's comeback and approved the constitution of the Fifth Republic. Having won over 130 seats in the 1958 election, it was a member of the Gaullist governing coalition until 1962. Antoine Pinay, the Minister of the Economy until 1960, spearheaded a successful monetary reform in 1959 (the introduction of the nouveau franc). However, the party quickly clashed with the Gaullists. It opposed Charles de Gaulle's policy of self-determination in Algeria, disliked his interventionist economic policies, criticized the euroscepticism of De Gaulle and opposed the growing "presidentialisation" of the regime. On October 5, 1962, 107 CNIP deputies voted no-confidence in Georges Pompidou's government,[2] opposing de Gaulle's constitutional reform on the election of the President by universal suffrage. However, the CNIP cabinet ministers, led by future president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, continued to support de Gaulle. With the support of 24 deputies, they founded their own party, the Independent Republicans (RI).

Severely weakened by the split and its opposition to the October 1962 referendum, it suffered a major defeat in the 1962, left with only a handful of seats. It allied itself with the Popular Republican Movement (MRP) to form the Democratic Centre, later known as Progress and Modern Democracy, in which the CNIP was only a small component.

The party has never regained its former strength and became a marginal conservative group. In the 1980s, it attempted to serve as a 'bridge' between the parliamentary right (RPR and UDF) and the far-right (FN). In the 1986 election, CNIP members appeared on RPR-UDF lists but it won three seats through local alliances with the FN in some departments. In 1997, it formed an ephemeral alliance with Philippe de Villiers' Movement for France.

Recent history[edit]

The CNIP became an associate party of the Union for a Popular Movement in 2002, before it decided to dissociate itself from the party in June 2008. Following the 2007 legislative election it had two seats in the French National Assembly. François Lebel, mayor of the 8th arrondissement of Paris joined the party in April 2008.

Since 2008, it hesitated between pursuing an alliance with President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP or allying itself with the centrist allies of the presidential majority, most notably Jean-Louis Borloo's Radical Party. It joined the Liaison Committee for the Presidential Majority, a short-lived structuring committee composed of the UMP and its close allies. Gilles Bourdouleix, who took the reins of the party in 2009, announced in 2011 that his party was negotiating an alliance with Borloo's centrist Alliance républicaine, écologiste et sociale.[3] Although these negotiations were unsuccessful, they provoked a major feud with the party's former leader, Annick du Roscoät,[4] who wanted the party to keep its conservative orientation while Bourdouleix has sought to reposition the CNIP towards the centre-right.

In the 2009 European Parliament election, the party ran autonomous lists in three constituencies. However, the party was only able to print ballots in Guyane (2.65%) and Île-de-France (0.42%). In the 2010 regional elections, the CNIP supported some lists led by Nicolas Dupont-Aignan's Arise the Republic while it backed the UMP or dissident right-wing lists in other regions.

On September 19, 2012, Bourdouleix - the party's only remaining deputy - announced that the CNIP was joining Borloo's centre-right Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI).[5] He had already joined the UDI group in the National Assembly in June 2012.

Popular support and electoral record[edit]


French National Assembly
Election year # of 1st round votes  % of 1st round vote # of seats
1951 2,563,782 13.64% 96
1956 3,259,782 14.99% 95
1958 2,815,176 13.70% 132
1962 1,404,177 7.66% 28
1978 classified as RPR or UDF 8[6]
1981 classified as RPR or UDF 5[7]
1986 participated in FN and RPR-UDF lists 5[8]
1988 classified as RPR 5
1993 122,194[9] 0.5% 2
1997 132,814[10] 0.52% 0
2002 14,403[11] 0.06% 2
2007 classified as UMP 2
2012 classified as UMP 1

European Parliament[edit]

European Parliament
Election year Number of votes  % of overall vote # of seats won
1984 ran on UDF-RPR list 2
1989 ran on UDF-RPR list 2
1994 ran on UDF-RPR list 0
2009 8,656 0.05% 0


Until 1973, the party was led by a secretary-general

Since 1973, the party has been led by a president

Elected officials[edit]


This article incorporates information from the French Wikipedia.
  1. ^ Jean-Pierre Rioux, La France de la Quatrième République, tome 2, "L'expansion et l'impuissance", Nouvelle histoire de la France contemporaine n°16, Seuil, Paris, 1983, p.90
  2. ^ Proceedings of the National Assembly, 4 October 1962, second sitting; vote tally on p. 3268. p. 38 in the PDF file
  3. ^ Le CNIP de Gilles Bourdouleix se rapproche de Jean-Louis Borloo, Ouest-France July 1, 2011
  4. ^ Annick du Roscoät : « Avec Gilles Bourdouleix, le CNIP est mort ! ».
  5. ^ Le CNI rejoint l'UDI de Borloo, Le Figaro, September 19, 2012.
  6. ^ 4 members in the UDF group, 2 in the RPR group, 2 non-affiliated
  7. ^ 3 members in the UDF group, 2 in the RPR group
  8. ^ 3 members in the FN group, 2 in the RPR group
  9. ^ "1993". 
  10. ^ "1997". 
  11. ^ "2002". 

External links[edit]