The Fourth Republic of France: Constitution and Political Parties

The Fourth Republic of France: Constitution and Political Parties

The Fourth Republic of France: Constitution and Political Parties

The Fourth Republic of France: Constitution and Political Parties

Excerpt

The aim of this book is to provide the student of French politics with a simple, concise description of the origins and nature of the present constitution of France and with a guide to post-war French political parties.

I have interpreted the word 'constitution' in a wide sense, including in my survey the organic laws which complete the text of the constitution of 27 October 1946. Examples have been used to clothe with flesh the dry bones of constitutional law. Part IV, 'Theory and Practice', is designed to show how the constitution has worked in practice. It should not be regarded as a political history of the Fourth Republic.

My account of the political parties covers both the groups of metropolitan France and the extra-metropolitan activities of the French Union. In the former case it seemed unnecessary to expound for the hundredth time the now familiar doctrines of the Communist and Socialist Parties, the more so as they are easily accessible in many manuals or books dealing with the political parties of the Third Republic. I have given most attention to those parties and organizations which have sprung up since the Liberation.

The section dealing with political movements in the French Union should be read with caution. The sources in French and English are often incomplete and sometimes contradictory. I have merely tried to sift out such information as will help in understanding the trends of opinion in French territory overseas.

Readers should not be puzzled if they discover, here and there, slight differences between statistics quoted in this book and figures found elsewhere. Such discrepancies are not important and are often to be explained by disagreement between the political parties and the Ministry of the Interior, whose figures I quote wherever possible. The strength of groups in the National Assembly can be estimated only approximately, in most cases. Deputies are sometimes slow in making up their minds and often drift from one group to another.

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