|Headquarters||51A Avenue de Saint Marc, Valence|
Christian democracy |
|Colours||Yellow, light blue|
"Allant à l'avenir ensemble" |
"Going to the future together"
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The Christian Bloc (French: Bloc chrétien) is a Christian political party in Valcluse. It is the oldest political party in Valcluse whose policies and platform is religiously orientated. It was founded in February 1970. The Christian Bloc has won seats in Parliament in every election since it was founded. The party is currently led by Marianne Levallois who has been party leader since 2008.
The party is predominantly orientated towards social issues and is socially conservative in its views. It supports the reintroduction of the death penalty for murder and rape and voted against the introduction of civil unions in 2005 and gay marriage in 2012. The Christian Bloc also supports the loosening of tight regulations imposed by the government's centuries long policy of laïcité. The party has historically lent support to Christian activist movements and organizations since its foundation and is closely associated with the largest Christian activist group, Rally for the Future (RPA).
The Christian Bloc was founded in February 1970 by Frédéric Bourgeois, a prominent pediatrician within Valcluse. It was formed following a meeting of key Christian activists at the time who wanted to present unified opposition to the government's proposal to legalize abortion. Bourgeois, a staunch Catholic, had spent the previous twenty years working in genetics at a laboratory at the National School of Medicine in Valence and his discoveries led to the rise of prenatal diagnosis for unborn children within Valcluse. This also led to the debate of whether or not theraputic abortions should be legalized.
Following the founding of the party in 1970 and registration with the Electoral Authority one month later, Bourgeois began to campaign against the legalization of abortions, as well as other important social issues at that time. The party soon had a manifesto written and completed by 1971. Released in May that year, the manifesto outline the fight against abortion as well as the proliferation of contraceptives. It also spoke out against the government's laïcité laws which had been in place since the mid 1800's. The party also outlined its doctrine for membership and the idea of a unified Christian party rather than one dominated by different Christian interests. It wanted to build up the frayed relationship between Catholics and Protestants by presenting a unified front in their name and showing that cooperation towards a common goal could be made possible.
In 1973, it began campaigning in earnest, with party leader Bourgeois nominated as the party's presidential candidate. It won five seats in the National Assembly and one seat within the Senate, with Bourgeois succeeding in winning his electorate seat in Vosèges, with his deputy leader Georges Gambini winning the seat in the Catholic enclave of Santo Garibaldi the province of Orléanais. The party entered Parliament as opposition to socialist President Frédéric de Vries. In June 1974, Bourgeois delivered a one hour speech against the Terminantion of Pregnancy Law 1974 in which the party unanimously voted against the bill. The party would go onto successfully win two more list seats in Parliament as well as another electorate, this time in the northern city of Argenteuil following the general election in 1977. The party surprised everyone in 1978 when the party vote unanimously for the abolition of the death penalty, which passed in the same year.
It finally managed to enter the government as a junior partner in a coalition government with the larger Coalition of National Unity government that managed to win the controversial 1981 Valclusian general election. The Christian Bloc retained its seven seats and found itself alongside the Radical Party and the Rally for the Republic. The party also encountered the right-wing Front National for the first time in politics, as that particular party had struggled to gain support for its particular brand of social conservatism. The Christian Bloc soon found itself at odds with most of the coalition's plans and without a cabinet position. It soon fell out of favor with the coalition and officially left it 1986, having won no extra seats in the previous year's election. The party briefly entered in a coalition with the Front National between 1986 and 1989 but found itself at odds with their positions too, as the Christian Bloc was not explicitly anti-immigration. It nevertheless found support from the Front National in the party's two bids to criminalize abortions. It failed and in the end, settled for an amendment that abortions could not be performed beyond 12 weeks.
The party entered the opposition again in 1989 following the collapse of the Coalition of National Unity government in the elections. In 1991, the government passed a law to recognize the status of same sex couples in cohabitation which Bourgeois opposed. It would be his last important vote within Parliament as he retired from politics in 1993 following that year's general election. He was replaced by his long time deputy Georges Gambini who led the party in opposition until it entered government again as a coalition partner. In 1994, Bourgeois died of lung cancer, aged 67.
In August 1998, Gambini created the youth wing of the party, Renaissance, which was aimed at conservative Christian youth, especially in the rise of young Evangelicals.
Unusually, the Christian Bloc is not dominated by either of the two main Christian denominations in Valcluse: Catholicism and Protestantism. The party was structured from the start to have equal representation among the two largest denominations within the party to avoid sectarian conflict, with the intention of presenting a united front with regards to Christian politics in Valcluse. Although the party receives the majority of support from the conservative Catholics in the southwest of Valcluse, approximately half of the list deputies with seats in the National Assembly are composed of Protestants, mainly Lutherans from equally conservative areas in the north and the northeast of Valcluse.
This sense of political and religious unity has meant that political factions are largely non-existent, with party doctrine calling for conscious votes on economic issues unless requested otherwise by larger coalition partners.