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

By William G. Andrews | Go to book overview

2
Public Opinion and the Press

PUBLIC OPINION

BOTH THE Fourth and Fifth Republics are democratic in form. Democratic theory assumes that governments are ultimately responsive and responsible to the people. This responsibility is maintained primarily through elections and, more rarely, referenda. Such formal consultations are held infrequently, but presumably popular will is continuous. Furthermore, neither referenda nor elections provide a thoroughly accurate determination of popular will on policy questions. Inevitably, it is deformed because policy questions are only one of the determinants of a person's vote (and not necessarily the most important). Besides, there is always more than one policy issue in every election. No matter how completely one issue dominates an election it never has a complete monopoly. In order to determine popular attitudes on specific questions, sociologists have devised public opinion surveys. By interviewing a scientifically designed representative sample of the population, they claim to be able to tell with a high degree of accuracy the views of the population as a whole. Attempts to use opinion surveys in forecasting election results have not always been successful, but there is no reason to doubt that they provide a reasonably accurate reflection of general trends in opinion. In this chapter an effort will be made to analyze the evolution of French public opinion regarding the Algerian problem from the time of the outbreak of the

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • I - The Context of the Problem 1
  • 2 - Public Opinion and the Press 16
  • 3 - Parties and Interest Groups 32
  • 4 - Elections and Referenda 46
  • 5 - The Political Executive: The Fourth Republic 67
  • 6 - The Political Executive: The Fifth Republic 92
  • 7 - The Legislature: The National Assembly Of the Fourth Republic 135
  • 8 - The Legislature: The National Assembly Of the Fifth Republic 164
  • 9 - Conclusion 180
  • Epilogue 189
  • Chronology 205
  • Glossary and Abbreviations 209
  • Index 213
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