April 24, 1988. After the first round of the presidential election France was divided into two, as usual. From another angle, however, it was cut into three as well. On the Left the Socialist candidate had 34 percent. On the Right were two moderate candidates, one with 20, the other with 16 percent. The two blocs were fighting over the center in the almost total absence of a mobilizing project, with the possible exceptions of technological change and Europe. The third part, divided between the two extremes of the political spectrum, announced its refusal of this soulless consensus. The Left of this part was fragmented, with a Communist Party desperately defending old acquis sociaux and reduced to 7 percent and, at about the same level but divided, the alternative and ecologist forces. The frightening surprise came from the extreme Right-14.5 percent of the vote went to Le Pen and his party of fear, exclusion, racial hatred, and irrational fantasy. A quarter-century after Gaullist stabilization, the end of colonial warfare, and the great outburst of enthusiasm about modernization, a French political world that everyone thought had "grown up" to transcend great "ideological" debates had come apart to expose an acute new national identity crisis.