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When it is further taken into account that improved methods of distribution have been achieved at the expense of the middleman, it will be understood why the small merchants fear that their very existence is threatened. It was ranked thecountry with the highest reputation by RepTrakReputation Ranking. Informations sur votre appareil et sur votre connexion Internet, y compris votre adresse IP, Navigation et recherche lors de l’utilisation des sites Web et applications Verizon Media. The constitution gives the president the power to appoint the prime minister (often known as the premier), who oversees the execution of legislation. When the referendum of May 1946 demonstrated the public's preference for a system which put certain restraints on the power of the Assembly, it was agreed that there should be a President of the Republic and a second chamber, the Council of the Republic. Realizing that Poujadism is a part of this tradition, we shall do well not to exaggerate its significance. Elected for seven years, presiding by right over the Council of Ministers, and having the responsibility of designating the President of the Council, he plays a rôle of influence rather than authority but still one of great importance. Doubtless its supporters also include more than one Gaullist or Vichyite. If the cabinet is not overthrown it comes apart; certain ministers refuse to associate themselves with some measure they do not approve. The drafting of the constitution of the Fifth Republic and its promulgation on October 4, 1958, differed in three main ways from the former constitutions of 1875 (Third Republic) and 1946 (Fourth Republic): first, the parliament did not participate in its drafting, which was done by a government working party aided by a constitutional advisory committee and the Council of State; second, French overseas territories participated in the referendum that ratified it on September 28, 1958; and, third, initial acceptance was widespread, unlike the 1946 constitution, which on first draft was rejected by popular referendum and then in a revised form was only narrowly approved. The electoral system of 1951 was devised in order to consolidate this combination against both Communism and Gaullism. Changeable as she seems, France is actually one of the most stable countries in the world in reactions and basic tendencies, so much so that some persons even reproach her for this at the very moment when her superficial instability is giving cause for grave concern. The two do not obey the same rules or the same spirit, but the second is no less national than the first. Many people vote Communist because they think Communism is on the left, and as a matter of principle they always vote left. These voters reason that the more the Communists are feared the more they are listened to. Governmental instability increased, but suddenly two circumstances cleared the air. How, despite such a capricious régime, does France survive and even prosper (for she is not in a state of crisis)? Chosen by the sovereign power, the deputy soon comes to believe that he himself is that power, so much so that he considers it little short of a scandal if an appeal is made to his constituents to revoke the mandate they have given him. This explains why the question of clericalism or anti-clericalism, especially in relation to the schools, always figures in French political thinking, even if only in latent form. Furthermore, as the same ministers hold over from one cabinet to another, they form as it were teams of government. Especially since the mid-1970s, a working partnership between the president and the prime minister has tended to be established. The result is an overlapping of positions which further complicates a game already quite complicated enough. The cabinet was to be simply its delegate, always subject to dismissal. This means that each party inevitably develops within itself a left, center and right faction. In this area, the issue of freedom passes over to the right, whereas in politics it found its champions on the left. This leads to the paradox of stable policy with unstable cabinets. The nineteenth century bequeathed to us the problem of dirigisme versus free enterprise and that of separation of Church and State. Despite spontaneous movements and policies of decentralization, as well as challenges from new forms of local governance, Paris retains its dominant role in the nation. Our international critics nevertheless have a strong point when they complain that the representatives of France in diplomatic negotiations are hardly ever the same from one year to the next. However, from the tactical and governmental point of view, the new distribution, not of votes but of seats, raises difficult problems. A majority can be found on each of these problems taken singly--E.D.C., for example, or the separation of Church and State--but when it comes to obtaining a majority which will agree on all these questions at once the task becomes truly formidable. In 1945, when France faced the task of drawing up a constitution, this recent experience was bound to weigh heavily in the decisions that had to be made. This made it necessary for a governing majority to look for support further to the right, even to the Gaullists; and this in turn drove the Socialists toward the left and revived the idea of a popular front. The system must be understood if the results of the 1956 elections, held under the same rules, are to be interpreted correctly. Thus France deliberately turned her back on the type of presidential régime favored by General de Gaulle. This system puts a premium on coöperation between parties and works against isolated parties, for example, the Communists, who in the 1951 elections won a relatively small number of seats in proportion to their voting power. The authors of these institutions meant them to be uncompromising, but in practice a sort of law of equilibrium has tended to correct their excesses. Since the Liberation there have been three such periods. Democracy triumphed through the left; reaction is expressed through the right. The partisan and personal rivalries which separate the Republican Front from the groups in the center and on the liberal right make the consolidation of this majority very difficult. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. To understand it, one must remember that two parallel traditions have been maintained since the eighteenth century: a political tradition characterized by constant variations and affirmations of principle without fundamental regard for practical effects; and an administrative tradition originating with Napoleon characterized by permanence and solidity. As for taxes, which were payable on income received the year before, by the time they became due the currency had been still further devalued and the burden had become that much lighter. This is an inevitable result of the industrial revolution, the growth of the labor movement and the increasing claims of the Socialist state. Foreign Affairs, Published by the Council on Foreign Relations. In contrast, the 1958 constitution was contested by 85 percent of the electorate, of which 79 percent were in favour; among the overseas territories only Guinea rejected the new constitution and consequently withdrew from the French Community. He formed a government and, through the constitutional law of June 1958, was granted responsibility for drafting a new constitution. Poujade is an agitator, unquestionably possessed of a dynamic personality, who for several years has been exhorting the small merchants to protest, by direct action if necessary, against the highhandedness, tactlessness and all too real lack of consideration shown for the taxpayers by the fiscal authorities. In the 1956 elections, the divisions between the center parties were too great to permit an effective rapprochement, with the result that the Communists without getting more votes than before picked up more seats. This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. But the spirit of the Constitution was such that these modifications did not seriously affect the dominance of the National Assembly. French politics always seem something of an enigma. In 1940, for example, Marshal Pétain, in his "National Revolution," called to his aid the most reactionary traditions in our history. A simple yes or no answer does not satisfy the French. The concept of the left as cherished by its militant adherents is singular, almost childlike, akin to what inspires a Moslem as he looks toward Mecca. Moreover, while all major decisions tended to be taken at the Élysée Palace (the residence of the president) under de Gaulle, responsibility for policy, at least in internal matters, has slowly passed to the head of the government. But, it may be argued, there are individualists everywhere; this is scarcely a Gallic monopoly. It is as hostile as ever to rule by the assembly. Please enable JavaScript for this site to function properly. At the same time we would make a mistake not to take it seriously, for although it certainly does not imperil the régime it is nonetheless symptomatic of a basic malaise. Indeed, from the time the Revolution posed this fundamental dilemma France has never succeeded in resolving it. WITH the results of the latest French elections fresh in mind, but without going into detail about them, I should like to discuss here the conditions in which the French people vote and their underlying concept of government. Nos partenaires et nous-mêmes stockerons et/ou utiliserons des informations concernant votre appareil, par l’intermédiaire de cookies et de technologies similaires, afin d’afficher des annonces et des contenus personnalisés, de mesurer les audiences et les contenus, d’obtenir des informations sur les audiences et à des fins de développement de produit. If in 1945 the Communists who then formed part of the majority coalition had had their way, there would have been no President of the Republic and no second chamber, only the single Assembly without any counterbalance, and the cabinet would have been merely its executive committee. Does this mean that there are more than five and a half million Communists in France? These institutions have brought England ministerial stability and stable parties. How is it, then, that analogous institutions in France produce exactly the opposite result? Every argument becomes a matter of principle; the practical results are relegated to second place. As to all this the French are held to be blithely indifferent, ready to sacrifice practical considerations for a principle even when expediency counsels the opposite. International opinion--and American opinion in particular--is always interested in what is happening in France since she is one of the cornerstones of the European structure.

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