Politics in Gaullist France: Coping with Chaos

By Charles Hauss | Go to book overview

5
The Party System

There was one last building block.

Both the constitution and de Gaulle's actions as president before 1962 were based on the assumption that the divided parties and selfish politicians would continue dominating parliament. What else could be expected given the role parties and parliament had played throughout modern French history? The prime minister and the rest of the government were still going to be responsible to the National Assembly. So even though the politicians would no doubt be less powerful than their Third and Fourth Republic predecessors, they would still be able to block some--perhaps even much--of what an innovative government might attempt. 1

The constitution did give the government impressive levers to use in dealing with the "old politicians." None, however, was suitable for running a government on an ongoing basis. Most were designed for use under unusual circumstances and were likely to exacerbate the ill will between the government and many members of parliament. They were fine for times of crisis, but the regime needed more routine ways of operating during more routine times.

The only way of avoiding some new version of immobilisme was to eliminate the problem that had led the Gaullists to revise the constitution and strengthen the executive in the first place--the party system itself. Even after the 1958 elections, the traditional "parties of yesterday," as de Gaulle derisively called them, were almost as powerful and divisive as ever. Much to everyone's surprise (including de Gaulle's), however, the Gaullists were able to transform the party system, so that by the early 1970s, if not earlier, the party system had ceased being a liability

-55-

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Politics in Gaullist France: Coping with Chaos
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Acronyms xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Part One THE PROBLEM 1
  • 1: Chaos and Coping 3
  • Part Two BUILDING BLOCKS 25
  • 3: The New Republic 27
  • 4: De Gaulle, the Presidency, and the Republic 41
  • 5: The Party System 55
  • Part Three SUCCESS 69
  • 6: Stability for Growth 71
  • 7: Foreign Policy and the Pursuit of Grandeur 83
  • 8: The Economy 97
  • Part Four THE NEW PROBLEMS 113
  • 9: Cumulative Inequalities 115
  • Notes 127
  • 10: Centralization and Alienation 129
  • Part Five CONCLUSIONS 143
  • 11: Curing the Evils of Faction Gallic Style 145
  • 12: The Evils of Curing the Evils of Faction 159
  • References 169
  • Index 179
  • About the Author 183
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