The Fifth Republic (French: Cinquième République) is France's current republican system of government. It was established 4 October 1958 by Charles de Gaulle under the Constitution of the Fifth Republic. The Fifth Republic emerged from the collapse of the Fourth Republic, replacing the former parliamentary republic with a semi-presidential (or dual-executive) system that split powers between a prime minister as head of government and a president as head of state. De Gaulle, who was the first French president elected under the Fifth Republic in December 1958, believed in a strong head of state, which he described as embodying l'esprit de la nation ("the spirit of the nation").
The Fifth Republic is France's third-longest-lasting political regime, after the hereditary and feudal monarchies of the Ancien Régime (Late Middle Ages – 1792) and the parliamentary Third Republic (1870–1940). The Fifth Republic will overtake the Third Republic as the second-longest-lasting regime and the longest-lasting French republic if it survives to 11 July 2028.
The trigger for the collapse of the Fourth French Republic was the Algiers crisis of 1958. France was still a colonial power, although conflict and revolt had begun the process of decolonization. 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 Metropolitan France. The situation was complicated by those in Algeria, such as European settlers, native Jews, and Harkis (native Muslims who were loyal to France) who wanted to maintain the union with France. The Algerian War was 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.
The Fourth Republic suffered from a lack of political consensus, a weak executive, and governments forming and falling in quick succession since 1946. 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. ). 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 established 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 remained 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 (excluding Algeria) to assert their independence. 1960 became known as the "Year of Africa" because of this wave of newly independent states. Algeria became independent on 5 July 1962.
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 one or two rounds of voting: if one candidate gets a majority of votes in the first round that person is president-elect; if no one gets a majority 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, however, 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 so declared partially unconstitutional a statute because it violated freedom of association. Only the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, or the president of either house of Parliament could ask for a constitutional review before a statute was signed into law—which greatly reduces 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. Then 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
Gaullist (UDR; RPR)
Source: "Les présidents de la République depuis 1848" [Presidents of the Republic Since 1848] (in French). Présidence de la République française.
President image gallery
Prime Ministers of the Fifth Republic
Gaullist (UNR; UDR; RPR)
Neo-Gaullist (UMP; LR)
Source: "Former Prime Ministers of the Fifth Republic". Government of France.
Institutions of the Fifth Republic
Institutions of the Fifth Republic
- ^ For information about regional languages see Languages of France.
- ^ The overseas regions and collectivities form part of the French telephone numbering plan, but have their own country calling codes: Guadeloupe +590; Martinique +596; French Guiana +594, Réunion and Mayotte +262; Saint Pierre and Miquelon +508. The overseas territories are not part of the French telephone numbering plan; their country calling codes are: New Caledonia +687, French Polynesia +689; Wallis and Futuna +681.
- ^ In addition to .fr, several other Internet TLDs are used in French overseas départements and territories: .re, .mq, .gp, .tf, .nc, .pf, .wf, .pm, .gf and .yt. France also uses .eu, shared with other members of the European Union. The .cat domain is used in Catalan-speaking territories.
- ^ a b Loi constitutionnelle du 3 juin 1958 portant dérogation transitoire aux dispositions de l'article 90 de la Constitution (in French).
- ^ Lessig, Lawrence (1993). "The Path of the Presidency". East European Constitutional Review. Fall 1993 / Winter 1994 (2/3): 104 – via Chicago Unbound, University of Chicago Law School.
- ^ Richburg, Keith B. (25 September 2000). "French President's Term Cut to Five Years". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
- ^ Kubicek, Paul (2015). European Politics. Routledge. pp. 154–56, 163. ISBN 978-1-317-34853-5.
- ^ John E. Talbott, The War Without a Name: France in Algeria, 1954-1962 (1980).
- ^ Jonathan Fenby, The General: Charles de Gaulle and the France He Saved (2010) pp 375-408.
- ^ Philip M. Williams, Crisis and Compromise: Politics in the Fourth Republic (1958)
- ^ "Fac-similé JO du 02/06/1958, page 05279 - Legifrance". www.legifrance.gouv.fr.
- ^ 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
- ^ "Fac-similé JO du 09/01/1959, page 00673 - Legifrance". www.legifrance.gouv.fr.
- ^ Cooper, Frederick (July 2008). "Possibility and Constraint: African Independence in Historical Perspective". Journal of African History. 49 (2): 167–196. doi:10.1017/S0021853708003915.
- ^ Abayomi Azikiwe, "50th Anniversary of the 'Year of Africa' 1960", Pan-African News Wire, 21 April 2010.
- ^ Constitutional Council, Proclamation Archived 21 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine 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 Archived 10 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine 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 Archived 10 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine 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 ?