The Cockpit of France

The Cockpit of France

The Cockpit of France

The Cockpit of France

Excerpt

In 1958 France suffered the most serious crisis which she had faced since 1940. As in 1940, her régime, her freedoms, her future overseas, were suddenly threatened. This crisis, however, was not a great surprise. Sooner or later it was bound to happen; and for three: reasons: two of them stemming from the past and one from more recent events.

The Fourth Republic, like the Third, was handicapped from its inception by ministerial instability. Since 1945 only two governments lasted for more than a year. The cause is a simple one. Ministerial crises are provoked by the conjunction of two extremist oppositions, both capable of overthrowing a government, but incapable of forming one. The three Cabinets which succeeded each other during the course of the third and last legislature were reduced to a minority by the combination of Communists and Conservatives. Crises are easy to provoke, but difficult to resolve. Each of the last two went on for a month or more.

This rhythm caused the various Cabinets to lose almost all their authority. This was particularly true of the reaction of the overseas territories in which, owing to their distance from the capital, people ceased to look to the centre and started to rely alone on themselves. As for Parliament it achieved a complete loss of popularity. The second cause of the crises arose from this disillusion of the public with the régime. This was no new malady. It is chronic. But periodically it is favoured and aggravated by bouts of "Bonapartist fever." This curious phenomenon of French political history is made up of explo-

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