French Politics: The First Years of the Fourth Republic

French Politics: The First Years of the Fourth Republic

French Politics: The First Years of the Fourth Republic

French Politics: The First Years of the Fourth Republic

Excerpt

Any study of French contemporary politics obviously lays the author open to criticism on the score of omissions, misplaced emphases, and subjectivity, if not of partisanship. It should, therefore, be made clear at the outset that this book aims primarily at presenting events and problems as the French saw them at the time and, more particularly, as they disagreed about them; that it seeks to describe and analyse rather than to make judgements; and that its inclusions and omissions have been decided on mainly in the light of questions put to the author by members of British audiences at many lectures on France given during the course of the last seven or eight years. It will be evident, therefore, that it makes no claims to completeness.

It is intended essentially to be an account of political issues and problems. Economic and social questions are discussed in both Chapters 4 and 15, but very largely in their political context. The Constitution is discussed in Chapters 3 and 14, but the main emphasis is on political divergencies at the time it was drawn up and on its practical working. The result is that a number of organs are not discussed at all, although they have played an important part in post-war France and some of them have been among the most successful of the institutions of the Fourth Republic. The work of the Conseil d'État, for example, or of the Cour des Comptes, the relation of the Commissariat-GéNéral du Plan to the different government departments, the functions of the various inter-Ministerial Committees, the role of the Conseil du Crédit, or of the Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature--all these are subjects which belong rather to a study of post-war French institutions, and such a study can more usefully be undertaken when more information is available on their actual working and when their position is more clearly defined.

The reader will observe that the figures quoted have been taken almost invariably from Government statements, parliamentary or other official reports, statements by politicians, or from French publications with some claim to be authoritative. The difficulty of obtaining complete, up to date, reliable--or even consistent-- statistical material is one with which students of French politics, sociology, or economics have long been familiar. The light-hearted approach of the French to quantitative concepts is not the least of the impediments to Anglo-French understanding!

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