The Vichy 80
The Vichy 80 were a group of elected French parliamentarians who, on 10 July 1940, voted against the constitutional change that dissolved the Third Republic and established an authoritarian regime now referred to as Vichy France.
Nazi Germany invaded France on May 14, 1940, and Paris fell a month later. Prime Minister Paul Reynaud was opposed to asking for armistice terms, and upon losing the cabinet vote, resigned. President Albert Lebrun appointed Marshal Philippe Pétain as his replacement. France capitulated on 22 June 1940. Under the terms of the armistice, the northern and Atlantic coast region of France was to be militarily occupied by Germany. The remainder would remain unoccupied, with the French Government remaining at Vichy, remaining responsible for all civil government in France, occupied and unoccupied.
Pétain began a revision of the constitution of the discredited Third Republic. This process was completed with a vote of the combined houses of the parliament on 10 July 1940. The result was a constitutional amendment that created the new French government. The eighty deputies and senators who opposed the change are referred to as the Vichy 80 (French: "les quatre-vingts"), and they are now famous for their decision to oppose the vote.
Additionally, twenty-seven deputies and senators did not take part in the vote. They had fled Metropolitan France on 21 June, from Bordeaux to Algiers, on board the ship, Massilia, and they are referred to as the Massilia absentees. They were considered traitors by the collaborationist government, although they were seen as heroes after the war.
Sixty-one communist parliamentarians had their rights to serve as deputies and senators denied to them in January 1940.
The Pétain government henceforth ruled under this Act, the constitutional law of 10 July 1940, and they never produced a true constitution until the end of World War II, insisting that it would have to be signed in Paris, once France became unoccupied again. On January 30, 1944, a draft constitution was signed, but it remained without effect. After the French government of Pétain was dissolved, the so-called Free French Forces contested the legality of the government based at Vichy and they voided most of its acts. More recently though, there has been some recognition of the responsibility of the French state for the crimes committed under the government based at Vichy.
Detailed list of the 80
SFIO = Section Française de l'Internationale Ouvrière (French Section of the Workers' International)
UFP = Union populaire française (French Popular Union, a breakaway section of the French Communist Party)
- "Proposition de Loi n° 729" (in French). Retrieved 2007-09-10.
- "21 juin 1940 : le "Massilia" quitte la France pour Alger" (in French). memoire.net. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
- For the complete list of Massilia's passengers, see Louis-Georges Planes and Robert Dufourg, Bordeaux, Capitale tragique, mai-juin 1940, Loos: Editions Medicis, 4-page unnumbered inset between pages 188 and 189.
- http://mjp.univ-perp.fr/france/80.htm (French)
- "Proposition de loi relative aux Justes de France" (in French). Retrieved 2007-09-10.