French Fifth Republic
|Motto: "Liberté, égalité, fraternité"
(English: "Liberty, equality, fraternity")
|Anthem: "La Marseillaise"
Territory of the French Fifth Republic.
|Government||Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic|
|-||Prime Minister||Jean-Marc Ayrault|
|-||Lower house||National Assembly|
|-||Current constitution||4 October 1958
(55 years, 2 months, and 18 days ago)
|ISO 3166 code||FR|
The Fifth Republic is the fifth and current republican constitution of France, introduced on 4 October 1958. The Fifth Republic emerged from the collapse of the French Fourth Republic, replacing the prior parliamentary government with a semi-presidential system. It is France's third-longest-enduring political regime, after the pre-Revolutionary Ancien Régime and the Third Republic.
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|History of France|
The trigger for the collapse of the French Fourth Republic was the Algiers crisis of 1958. France was still a colonial power, although conflict and revolt had begun the process of decolonisation. French West Africa, French Indochina, and French Algeria still sent representatives to the French parliament under systems of limited suffrage in the French Union. Algeria in particular, despite being the colony with the largest French population, saw rising pressure for separation from the Metropole. 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, 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 a lack of 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 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; on 3 June 1958, a constitutional law empowered the new government to draft a new Constitution of France, and another law granted Charles de Gaulle and his cabinet the power to rule by decree for up to six months, except on certain matters related to the basic rights of citizens (criminal law, etc.[vague]). These plans were approved by more than 80% of those who voted in the referendum of 28 September 1958. 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 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. The provisional constitutional commission, acting in lieu of the Constitutional Council, proclaimed the results of the election on 9 January 1959. The new president began his office on that date, appointing Michel Debré as Prime Minister.
The 1958 constitution also replaced the French Union with the French Community, which allowed fourteen member territories (these did not include Algeria) to assert their independence. 1960 became known as the "Year of Africa" because of this wave of newly independent states.
The president was initially elected by an electoral college, but in 1962 de Gaulle proposed that the president be directly elected by the citizens, and held a referendum on the change. Although the method and intent 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, to reduce the probability of cohabitation due to former differences in the length of terms for the National Assembly and Presidency. The President is elected in a two-round system: 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 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. 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 reduced the likelihood of such a review if all these officeholders happened to be from the same side of politics, which was the case at the time. In 1974, a constitutional amendment widened this prerogative to 60 members of the National Assembly or 60 members of the Senate. From that date, the opposition has been able to have controversial new statutes examined for constitutionality.
Presidents of the Fifth Republic
|Charles de Gaulle||1890–1970||8 January 1959||28 April 1969 (resigned)||UNR then UDR|
|Alain Poher||1909–1996||28 April 1969||15 June 1969 (interim)||PDM|
|Georges Pompidou||1911–1974||15 June 1969||2 April 1974 (died in office)||UDR|
|Alain Poher||1909–1996||2 April 1974||19 May 1974 (interim)||PDM|
|Valéry Giscard d'Estaing||1926–||19 May 1974||21 May 1981||UDF|
|François Mitterrand||1916–1996||21 May 1981||17 May 1995||Socialist|
|Jacques Chirac||1932–||17 May 1995||16 May 2007||RPR then UMP|
|Nicolas Sarkozy||1955–||16 May 2007||15 May 2012||UMP|
|François Hollande||1954–||15 May 2012||(incumbent)||Socialist|
Prime Ministers of the Fifth Republic
- Government of France
- Politics of France
- List of French possessions and colonies
- French colonial empire
- Loi constitutionnelle du 3 juin 1958 portant dérogation transitoire aux dispositions de l'article 90 de la Constitution (in French).
- Décret du 1er juin 1958 portant nomination des membres du gouvernement
- Loi no 58-520 du 3 juin 1958 relative aux pleins pouvoirs (in French).
- Proclamation des résultats des votes émis par le peuple français à l'occasion de sa consultation par voie de référendum, le 28 septembre 1958
- Constitution, Journal Officiel de la République Française, 5 October 1958
- Proclamation des résultats du scrutin du 21 décembre 1958 pour l'élection du Président de la République, Président de la Communauté; text version
- Frederick Cooper, "Possibility and Constraint: African Independence in Historical Perspective", Journal of African History 49(2), http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021853708003915
- Abayomi Azikiwe, "50th Anniversary of the 'Year of Africa' 1960", Pan-African News Wire, 21 April 2010.
- Constitutional Council, Proclamation of the results of the 28 October 1962 referendum on the bill related to the election of the President of the Republic by universal suffrage
- Constitutional Council, Decision 62-20 DC of 6 November 1962
- F. L. Morton, Judicial Review in France: A Comparative Analysis, The American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Winter, 1988), pp. 89–110
- M. Letourneur, R. Drago, The Rule of Law as Understood in France, The American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 7, No. 2 (Spring, 1958), pp. 147–177
- Constitutional Council, Decision 71-44 DC of 16 July 1971
- Loi constitutionnelle no 74-904 du 29 octobre 1974 portant révision de l'article 61 de la Constitution (in French).
- Alain Lancelot, La réforme de 1974, avancée libéral ou progrès de la démocratie ?
- Atkin, Nicholas. The Fifth French Republic (European History in Perspective) (2005) excerpt and text search
- Brouard, Sylvain et al. The French Fifth Republic at Fifty: Beyond Stereotypes (French Politics, Society and Culture) (2009)
- Chevallier, Jean-Jacques; Guy Carcassonne, Olivier Duhamel (2009). Histoire de la Ve République : 1958 - 2009 (in French) (13th ed.). Paris: Dalloz. ISBN 978-2-247-08406-7.
- Lewis-Beck, Michael S., et al. eds. French Presidential Elections (Palgrave Macmillan; 2012) 232 pages; studies of four presidential contests over the past two decades.
- Rogoff, Martin A. French Constitutional Law: Cases and Materials (Durham, Carolina Academic Press, 2010.
- Thody, Philip. The Fifth French Republic: Presidents, Politics and Personalities: A Study of French Political Culture (1998) excerpt and text search