French Fifth Republic

French Fifth Republic

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Encyclopedia
The Fifth Republic is the fifth and current republican
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 constitution
Constitution of France
The current Constitution of France was adopted on 4 October 1958. It is typically called the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, and replaced that of the Fourth Republic dating from 1946. Charles de Gaulle was the main driving force in introducing the new constitution and inaugurating the Fifth...

 of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, introduced on 4 October 1958. The Fifth Republic emerged from the collapse of the French Fourth Republic
French Fourth Republic
The French Fourth Republic was the republican government of France between 1946 and 1958, governed by the fourth republican constitution. It was in many ways a revival of the Third Republic, which was in place before World War II, and suffered many of the same problems...

, replacing the prior parliamentary government with a semi-presidential system
Semi-presidential system
The semi-presidential system is a system of government in which a president and a prime minister are both active participants in the day-to-day administration of the state...

. It is France's third-longest-enduring political regime, after the pre-Revolutionary
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 Ancien Régime
Ancien Régime in France
The Ancien Régime refers primarily to the aristocratic, social and political system established in France from the 15th century to the 18th century under the late Valois and Bourbon dynasties...

 and the Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

.

Origins


The trigger for the collapse of the French Fourth Republic
French Fourth Republic
The French Fourth Republic was the republican government of France between 1946 and 1958, governed by the fourth republican constitution. It was in many ways a revival of the Third Republic, which was in place before World War II, and suffered many of the same problems...

 was the Algiers crisis of 1958
May 1958 crisis
The May 1958 crisis was a political crisis in France during the turmoil of the Algerian War of Independence which led to the return of Charles de Gaulle to political responsibilities after a ten year absence...

. France was still a colonial power, although conflict and revolt had begun the process of decolonisation. French West Africa
French West Africa
French West Africa was a federation of eight French colonial territories in Africa: Mauritania, Senegal, French Sudan , French Guinea , Côte d'Ivoire , Upper Volta , Dahomey and Niger...

, French Indochina
French Indochina
French Indochina was part of the French colonial empire in southeast Asia. A federation of the three Vietnamese regions, Tonkin , Annam , and Cochinchina , as well as Cambodia, was formed in 1887....

, and French Algeria
French Algeria
French Algeria lasted from 1830 to 1962, under a variety of governmental systems. From 1848 until independence, the whole Mediterranean region of Algeria was administered as an integral part of France, much like Corsica and Réunion are to this day. The vast arid interior of Algeria, like the rest...

 still sent representatives to the French parliament under systems of limited suffrage in the French Union
French Union
The French Union was a political entity created by the French Fourth Republic to replace the old French colonial system, the "French Empire" and to abolish its "indigenous" status.-History:...

. Algeria in particular, despite being the colony with the largest French population, saw rising pressure for separation from the Metropole
Metropolitan France
Metropolitan France is the part of France located in Europe. It can also be described as mainland France or as the French mainland and the island of Corsica...

. The situation was complicated by those in Algeria, such as white settlers, who wanted to stay part of France, so the Algerian War became not just a separatist movement but had elements of a civil war. Further complications came when a section of the French army rebelled and openly backed the "Algérie française" movement to defeat separation. Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

, who had retired from politics a decade before, placed himself in the midst of the crisis, calling on the nation to suspend the government and create a new constitutional system. De Gaulle was carried to power by the inability of the parliament to choose a government, popular protest, and the last parliament of the Fourth Republic voting for their dissolution and the convening of a constitutional convention. Algeria became independent on 5 July 1962.

The Fourth Republic suffered from little political consensus, a weak executive, and governments forming and falling in quick succession since the Second World War. With no party or coalition able to sustain a parliamentary majority, Prime Ministers found themselves unable to risk their political position with unpopular reforms. De Gaulle and his supporters proposed a system of strong executive presidents elected for seven-year terms. The President under the proposed constitution would have executive powers to run the country in consultation with a prime minister whom he would appoint. On 1 June 1958, Charles de Gaulle was appointed head of the government;Décret du 1er juin 1958 portant nomination des membres du gouvernement on 3 June 1958, a constitutional law empowered the new government to draft a new Constitution of France
Constitution of France
The current Constitution of France was adopted on 4 October 1958. It is typically called the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, and replaced that of the Fourth Republic dating from 1946. Charles de Gaulle was the main driving force in introducing the new constitution and inaugurating the Fifth...

, and another law granted Charles de Gaulle and his cabinet the power to rule by decree
Rule by decree
Rule by decree is a style of governance allowing quick, unchallenged creation of law by a single person or group, and is used primarily by dictators and absolute monarchs, although philosophers such as Giorgio Agamben have argued that it has been generalized since World War I in all modern states,...

 for up to 6 months, except on certain matters related to the basic rights of citizens (criminal law, etc.). These plans were approved by 85.14% by 9 million voters to 8 million, with another 8 million abstaining. of those who voted in the referendum of 28 September 1958
French constitutional referendum, 1958
A constitutional referendum was held in France on 28 September 1958. Voters were asked whether they approved of the adoption of a constitution for the French Fifth Republic written by Charles de Gaulle. It was overwhelmingly approved, with 82.6% in favour...

. The new constitution was signed into law on 4 October 1958. Since each new constitution establishes a new republic, France moved from the Fourth to the Fifth Republic.

The new constitution contained transitional clauses (articles 90–92) extending the period of rule by decree until the new institutions were operating. René Coty
René Coty
René Jules Gustave Coty was President of France from 1954 to 1959. He was the second and last president under the French Fourth Republic.-Early life and politics:...

 stayed president of the Republic until the new president was proclaimed.
On 21 December 1958 Charles de Gaulle was elected President of France by an electoral college
Electoral college
An electoral college is a set of electors who are selected to elect a candidate to a particular office. Often these represent different organizations or entities, with each organization or entity represented by a particular number of electors or with votes weighted in a particular way...

. The provisional constitutional commission, acting in lieu of the Constitutional Council
Constitutional Council of France
The Constitutional Council is the highest constitutional authority in France. It was established by the Constitution of the Fifth Republic on 4 October 1958, and its duty is to ensure that the principles and rules of the constitution are upheld.Its main activity is to rule on whether proposed...

, proclaimed the results of the election on 9 January 1959. The new president began his office on that date, appointing Michel Debré
Michel Debré
Michel Jean-Pierre Debré was a French Gaullist politician. He is considered the "father" of the current Constitution of France, and was the first Prime Minister of the Fifth Republic...

 as prime minister.

Evolution


The president was initially elected by an electoral college, but in 1962 de Gaulle proposed that the president be directly elected by the citizens in a referendum. Although the method and intents of de Gaulle in that referendum were contested by most political groups except for the Gaullists, the change was approved by the French electorate. The Constitutional Council declined to rule on the constitutionality of the referendum.

The president is now elected every five years, changed from seven by a constitutional referendum in 2000
French constitutional referendum, 2000
A constitutional referendum was held in France on 24 September 2000. The proposals would result in the mandate of the President being reduced from seven years to five years in line with terms in office in other European countries...

, to reduce the probability of cohabitation due to former differences in the length of terms for the National Assembly and Presidency. The first round is open to all candidates and will establish a president if any candidate gets an overall majority. If there is no winner in the first round, the two candidates with the greatest number of votes go to a second round.

Two major changes occurred in the 1970s regarding constitutional checks and balances. Traditionally, France operated according to parliamentary supremacy: no authority was empowered to rule on whether statutes passed by Parliament respected the constitutional rights of the citizens. In 1971, the Constitutional Council, arguing that the preamble of the Constitution referenced the rights defined in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is a fundamental document of the French Revolution, defining the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid...

 and the preamble of the 1946 Constitution, concluded that statutes must respect these rights and declared partially unconstitutional a statute because it violated freedom of association
Freedom of association
Freedom of association is the individual right to come together with other individuals and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests....

. However, only the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, and the President of each house of Parliament could ask for a constitutional review before a statute was signed into law, which greatly hindered efforts to get such a review if all these personalities happened to be from the same political side, which was the case at the time. In 1974, a constitutional amendment widened this possibility to 60 members of the National Assembly
French National Assembly
The French National Assembly is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of France under the Fifth Republic. The upper house is the Senate ....

 or 60 members of the Senate. From that date, the opposition has been able to have controversial new statutes examined for constitutionality.

Fifth Republic: Presidents


Gaullists are in blue, Socialists in pink, centrists in teal.
President Lived from to Party
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

1890–1970 8 January 1959 28 April 1969 (resigned) UNR
Union pour la nouvelle République
The Union for the New Republic , was a French political party founded on 1 October 1958 that supported Charles de Gaulle in the French presidential election, 1958- History :The UNR won 206 of 579 seats in the November 1958 elections....

 then UDR
Union des Démocrates pour la République
The Union for the Defence of the Republic or Union of Democrats for the Republic , commonly abbreviated UDR, was a Gaullist political party of France from 1968 to 1976....

Alain Poher
Alain Poher
Alain Émile Louis Marie Poher was a French centrist politician, affiliated first with the Popular Republican Movement and later with the Democratic Centre. He served as a Senator for Val-de-Marne from 1946 to 1995. He was President of the Senate from 3 October 1968 to 1 October 1992 and, in that...

1909–1996 28 April 1969 15 June 1969 (interim) PDM
Progress and Modern Democracy
Progress and Modern Democracy was a French centrist political group of the National Assembly elected in 1968 after the May 1968 crisis. It was composed of the Christian democrat deputies belonging to the Democratic Centre and the conservatives of the National Center of Independents and Peasants....

Georges Pompidou
Georges Pompidou
Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou was a French politician. He was Prime Minister of France from 1962 to 1968, holding the longest tenure in this position, and later President of the French Republic from 1969 until his death in 1974.-Biography:...

1911–1974 15 June 1969 2 April 1974 (died in office) UDR
Union des Démocrates pour la République
The Union for the Defence of the Republic or Union of Democrats for the Republic , commonly abbreviated UDR, was a Gaullist political party of France from 1968 to 1976....

Alain Poher
Alain Poher
Alain Émile Louis Marie Poher was a French centrist politician, affiliated first with the Popular Republican Movement and later with the Democratic Centre. He served as a Senator for Val-de-Marne from 1946 to 1995. He was President of the Senate from 3 October 1968 to 1 October 1992 and, in that...

1909–1996 2 April 1974 19 May 1974 (interim) PDM
Progress and Modern Democracy
Progress and Modern Democracy was a French centrist political group of the National Assembly elected in 1968 after the May 1968 crisis. It was composed of the Christian democrat deputies belonging to the Democratic Centre and the conservatives of the National Center of Independents and Peasants....

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Marie René Georges Giscard d'Estaing is a French centre-right politician who was President of the French Republic from 1974 until 1981...

1926– 19 May 1974 21 May 1981 UDF
Union for French Democracy
The Union for French Democracy was a French centrist political party. It was founded in 1978 as an electoral alliance to support President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in order to counterbalance the Gaullist preponderance over the right. This name was chosen due to the title of Giscard d'Estaing's...

François Mitterrand
François Mitterrand
François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President...

1916–1996 21 May 1981 17 May 1995 Socialist
Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

1932– 17 May 1995 16 May 2007 RPR
Rally for the Republic
The Rally for the Republic , was a French right-wing political party. Originating from the Union of Democrats for the Republic , it was founded by Jacques Chirac in 1976 and presented itself as the heir of Gaullism...

 then UMP
Union for a Popular Movement
The Union for a Popular Movement is a centre-right political party in France, and one of the two major contemporary political parties in the country along with the center-left Socialist Party...

Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier....

1955– 16 May 2007 Incumbent UMP
Union for a Popular Movement
The Union for a Popular Movement is a centre-right political party in France, and one of the two major contemporary political parties in the country along with the center-left Socialist Party...


Prime Ministers

Name Term start Term end Political Party
Michel Debré
Michel Debré
Michel Jean-Pierre Debré was a French Gaullist politician. He is considered the "father" of the current Constitution of France, and was the first Prime Minister of the Fifth Republic...

8 January 1959 14 April 1962 Union for the New Republic
Georges Pompidou
Georges Pompidou
Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou was a French politician. He was Prime Minister of France from 1962 to 1968, holding the longest tenure in this position, and later President of the French Republic from 1969 until his death in 1974.-Biography:...

14 April 1962 10 July 1968 Union for the New Republic
Maurice Couve de Murville
Maurice Couve de Murville
Maurice Couve de Murville was a French diplomat and politician who was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1958 to 1968 and Prime Minister from 1968 to 1969 under the presidency of General de Gaulle....

10 July 1968 20 June 1969 Union of Democrats for the Republic
Jacques Chaban-Delmas
Jacques Chaban-Delmas
Jacques Chaban-Delmas was a French Gaullist politician. He served as Prime Minister under Georges Pompidou from 1969 to 1972. In addition, for almost half a century, he was Mayor of Bordeaux and a deputy for the Gironde département....

20 June 1969 5 April 1973 Union of Democrats for the Republic
Pierre Messmer
Pierre Messmer
Pierre Joseph Auguste Messmer was a French Gaullist politician. He served as Minister of Armies under Charles de Gaulle from 1960 to 1969 – the longest serving since Étienne François, duc de Choiseul under Louis XV – and then as Prime Minister under Georges Pompidou from 1972 to 1974...

5 April 1973 27 May 1974 Union of Democrats for the Republic
Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

 (1st time)
27 May 1974 26 August 1976 Union of Democrats for the Republic
Raymond Barre
Raymond Barre
Raymond Octave Joseph Barre was a French centre-right politician and economist. He was a Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs under three Presidents and later served as Prime Minister under Valéry Giscard d'Estaing from 1976 until 1981...

26 August 1976 21 May 1981 Union for French Democracy
Union for French Democracy
The Union for French Democracy was a French centrist political party. It was founded in 1978 as an electoral alliance to support President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in order to counterbalance the Gaullist preponderance over the right. This name was chosen due to the title of Giscard d'Estaing's...

Pierre Mauroy
Pierre Mauroy
Pierre Mauroy is a French Socialist politician and former Prime Minister under François Mitterrand . Mauroy also served as Mayor of Lille from 1973 to 2001. Mauroy is currently emeritus mayor of Lille.-Biography:...

21 May 1981 17 July 1984 Socialist Party
Laurent Fabius
Laurent Fabius
Laurent Fabius is a French Socialist politician. He served as Prime Minister from 17 July 1984 to 20 March 1986. He was 37 years old when he was appointed and is, so far, the youngest Prime Minister of the Fifth Republic.-Early life:...

17 July 1984 20 March 1986 Socialist Party
Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

 (2nd time)
20 March 1986 10 May 1988 Rally for the Republic
Rally for the Republic
The Rally for the Republic , was a French right-wing political party. Originating from the Union of Democrats for the Republic , it was founded by Jacques Chirac in 1976 and presented itself as the heir of Gaullism...

Michel Rocard
Michel Rocard
Michel Rocard is a French politician, member of the Socialist Party . He served as Prime Minister under François Mitterrand from 1988 to 1991, during which he created the Revenu minimum d'insertion , a social minimum welfare program for indigents, and led the Matignon Accords regarding the status...

10 May 1988 15 May 1991 Socialist Party
Édith Cresson
Édith Cresson
Édith Cresson is a French politician. She was the first and so far only woman to have held the office of Prime Minister of France.- French Prime Minister :Cresson was appointed to the prime ministerial post by President François Mitterrand on 15 May 1991...

15 May 1991 2 April 1992 Socialist Party
Pierre Bérégovoy
Pierre Bérégovoy
Pierre Eugène Bérégovoy was a French Socialist politician. He served as Prime Minister under François Mitterrand from 1992 to 1993.-Early career:...

2 April 1992 29 March 1993 Socialist Party
Édouard Balladur
Édouard Balladur
Édouard Balladur is a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France from 29 March 1993 to 10 May 1995.-Biography:Balladur was born in İzmir, Turkey, to an Armenian Catholic family with five children and long-standing ties to France...

29 March 1993 18 May 1995 Rally for the Republic
Rally for the Republic
The Rally for the Republic , was a French right-wing political party. Originating from the Union of Democrats for the Republic , it was founded by Jacques Chirac in 1976 and presented itself as the heir of Gaullism...

Alain Juppé
Alain Juppé
Alain Marie Juppé is a French politician currently serving as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He also served as Prime Minister of France from 1995 to 1997 under President Jacques Chirac and the Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs from 2010 to 2011...

18 May 1995 3 June 1997 Rally for the Republic
Rally for the Republic
The Rally for the Republic , was a French right-wing political party. Originating from the Union of Democrats for the Republic , it was founded by Jacques Chirac in 1976 and presented itself as the heir of Gaullism...

Lionel Jospin
Lionel Jospin
Lionel Jospin is a French politician, who served as Prime Minister of France from 1997 to 2002.Jospin was the Socialist Party candidate for President of France in the elections of 1995 and 2002. He was narrowly defeated in the final runoff election by Jacques Chirac in 1995...

3 June 1997 6 May 2002 Socialist Party
Jean-Pierre Raffarin
Jean-Pierre Raffarin
Jean-Pierre Raffarin is a French conservative politician and senator for Vienne.Jean-Pierre Raffarin served as the Prime Minister of France from 6 May 2002 to 31 May 2005, resigning after France's rejection of the referendum on the European Union draft constitution. However, after Raffarin...

6 May 2002 31 May 2005 Union for a Popular Movement
Union for a Popular Movement
The Union for a Popular Movement is a centre-right political party in France, and one of the two major contemporary political parties in the country along with the center-left Socialist Party...

Dominique de Villepin
Dominique de Villepin
Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin is a French politician who served as the Prime Minister of France from 31 May 2005 to 17 May 2007....

31 May 2005 17 May 2007 Union for a Popular Movement
Union for a Popular Movement
The Union for a Popular Movement is a centre-right political party in France, and one of the two major contemporary political parties in the country along with the center-left Socialist Party...

François Fillon
François Fillon
François Charles Armand Fillon is the Prime Minister of France. He was appointed to that office by President Nicolas Sarkozy on 17 May 2007. He served initially until 13 November 2010 when he resigned from being prime minister before a planned cabinet reshuffle.On 14 November 2010, Sarkozy...

17 May 2007 Incumbent Union for a Popular Movement
Union for a Popular Movement
The Union for a Popular Movement is a centre-right political party in France, and one of the two major contemporary political parties in the country along with the center-left Socialist Party...


See also

  • Government of France
    Government of France
    The government of the French Republic is a semi-presidential system determined by the French Constitution of the fifth Republic. The nation declares itself to be an "indivisible, secular, democratic, and social Republic"...

  • Politics of France
    Politics of France
    France is a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, in which the President of France is head of state and the Prime Minister of France is the head of government, and there is a pluriform, multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is...

  • List of French possessions and colonies
  • French colonial empire
    French colonial empire
    The French colonial empire was the set of territories outside Europe that were under French rule primarily from the 17th century to the late 1960s. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the colonial empire of France was the second-largest in the world behind the British Empire. The French colonial empire...


Further reading