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POL207 Lecture 4 France6/10/10
•Dominated by party system
•If you were going to decentralize power, you have to change the electoral system, everything
•Few checks on their power.
•The triumph of Presidential Power
•The 4th Republic was divided and unstable, govts lasting months.
•Changed to highly centralized and stable system.
•Centralized in Presidential power.
•French constitutional design
oCreated in his image (de Gaulle)
oInstitutions created in the 1958-62 period consolidated by the time of de Gaulle’s 1969
oAll of this happened bc of May 1958.
•15th May made famous attack on the divisions created by political
parties who sought parochial interests
•“regime of parties”
•He held himself responsible to assume powers of the Republic.
•No legal or constitutional basis.
•His prestige and bc he seemed to be taking the side of the emerging
rebellion in Algiers.
•19th May adopted the opposite course
•Emphasized his respect for democracy, rejected all notions of a
dictatorship and spared the regime little venom.
•May 27th published communiqué in which he made it known that he
had begun to take political reigns
oDe Gaulle’s constitutional coup
Speaking as if he had power
Public seemed largely satisfied with the result
Military, accepting an implicit injunction on the part of de Gaulle in his
declaration, abandoned “Resurrection” thus avoiding Civil War.
Govt resigned on 27 May and De Gaulle stepped in
On June 1st, 1958 govt under De Gaulle is voted in
3 June a law gives govt the power to revise the constitution, subject to its respect
of the separation of powers and the views of the courts. END OF 4TH
oDe Gaulle’s strategy
Strengthening the powers of the presidency
•New constitution reduced parliament’s powers, handing much control to
oJune 4 1958 speech in fornt of of crowd in Algiers “I have
understood you” -> could be interpreted differently.
o“Vive l’Algerie francaise”
oSecret negotiations with the FLN began, and were made ublic
with negotiations at Evian in May 1961
oOn May 18th 1962, cease fire was declared
oApril 1961, 4 generals took over the govt in Algiers
oThe effort failed, the majority of generals obeyed De Gaulle, who
issued a decisive television intervention declaring his invocation
of emergency powers under Article 16 of the constitution.
oMass demonstrations followed in metro France against the coup.
The putsch collapsed in 25 April.
oDe Gaulle’s vision
“I have always had a certain idea of France”
Three pillars of his basis for vision
•1. Support for strong institutions and above all a President that embodies
the values of the state above petty politics.
•2. Nationalist foreign policy that creates a unit at a higher level:
aggressive support for unilateral nuclear deterrent, anti-Anglo-Saxon
(NATO troops expelled from France in 1965, Britain’s application to
EEC vetoed twice, call for Quebec’s liberation in 1967)
•3. Reconciliation with France’s historic enemy
oThe creation of a EU with the Franco-Geran alliance at its heart.
•Basic features can still be recognized in French politics
•1995 decision to resume nuclear testing with blithe indifference to public
•2002 opposition with Germany to the war in Iraq
New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) Olivier Besancourt
Communist Party (PCF)
Democratic for European Social Rally
Citizens and Republican Movement
Left-Radical Party (PRG)