French Politics and Algeria: The Process of Policy Formation, 1954-1962

French Politics and Algeria: The Process of Policy Formation, 1954-1962

French Politics and Algeria: The Process of Policy Formation, 1954-1962

French Politics and Algeria: The Process of Policy Formation, 1954-1962

Excerpt

Someone has said that the French should be excellent constitution makers; they have had so much experience. It has also been remarked that the politics of the French are interesting because their problems are so perplexing. In the pages that follow, I try to turn to the advantage of scholarly inquiry both of these unfortunate French ailments: constitutional instability and chronic political indigestion.

In just three and one-half years the Algerian nationalist insurrection drove the parliamentary Fourth French Republic to an early grave. It plagued the presidential Fifth Republic for a similar length of time. The persistence, across two regimes so outwardly different, of a problem of such magnitude seemed to present an excellent opportunity for a comparative case study on the manner in which regimes deal with major problems confronting them. It is the purpose of this study to exploit (not cynically, I hope) this opportunity.

I believe that comparative government may profit from the careful examination of situations in which the variables influencing the effectiveness of different forms of government are reduced to a minimum. In this case, the society, the administrative substructure, the political elite, the general international situation, and, above all, the problem were substantially the same from one system to the other. The constitution and some of the top political leaders changed. This book attempts to describe and illustrate the differences and similarities in their operation and effectiveness.

In a general way, I deal with the attempts of the French to resolve the Algerian problem from November 1, 1954, to June 1, 1961. Particular attention is given to efforts to find a "political" solution, that is, to reform the Algerian political-governmental structure. Revisions and additions have been made to include developments through early August 1962.

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