The Run Up to the Fourth Republic from 1944 to 1945 Fourth and Fifth Republics (1944 to present) Resistance and Reconstruction
Thèmes: Le Front populaire: victoire de la Gauche républicaine ou révolution manquée La débâcle: origines de la défaite française de juin 1940 L'occupation, la résistance et la collaboration, 1940-44 La Libération et les origines de la guerre froide française, 1944-47 Indochine, Madagascar, Algérie: les guerres de décolonisation Mai 1958: la chute d'une République Les « événements » de mai 1968

The Third Republic is Dead, Long Live the Republic The Provisional Government and the Procedure for Adopting a New Constitution The GPFR (gouvernement provisoire de la République française), which had come into being with the Liberation in August 1944, was recognised by the allies in September of the same year. The GPFR, in turn, was the result of the alliances that had been created during the years of resistance, something that had only become a unified force in the middle of 1943 (under de Gaulle). The immediate post-War was thus deeply conditioned by the events of the last year of the war in Europe. It now faced the difficult task of governing a country that had been ravaged by war. It was de Gaulle, with the authority acquired as military leader of the Free French (much in the same manner as Churchill was also rehabilitated by his post-war standing as military hero), who imposed his authority. By the end of 1944 he had gained control of the country as a whole and the cabinet that he chose reflected the different groups that had played an active part in the resistance. Awkwardly for de Gaulle, this necessarily also included the Communists (who had a respectable record as resistance fighters and were aided by the enormous Russian war effort and – in a manner comparable to the post-War standing of de Gaulle and Churchill - by Stalin's reputation as a war hero). De Gaulle thus acknowledged the role the communists had played but also sought to neutralise them and to prevent a Communist dominated government. His attempts to sideline the Communists in particular

000 for. Nevertheless. In effect. If the French voted “no” to the first question. Defence or the Foreign Office) contributed to the sense of stalemate. a constituent assembly was elected in October of 1945. thus represented something in the region of 75% of the total vote. The response to the next question was a little tighter but still involved a convincing majority (12 million for and 6 million against). together. The public had to vote either for or against an assembly with constitutive powers and if they voted in favour of this.5% (152 MPs). the next question was whether the French people approved the draft of a new Constitution regulating the provisional government appended to the referendum. questions of minor importance. Despite his standing as national hero. he had to deal with three parties – the MRP. was in any way attuned to his ideas about what the new France should look like. The MRP had just a handful more seats than the Socialists with 25. The Communists had been in favour of a yes vote to the first question – and The executive was thus directly dependent on the legislative. As things stood. Indeed. If it was not adopted by this means. October 1945 reinstated the Third Republic dating from 1875 but allowed for the redrafting of a new constitution. measures were taken to prevent Parliament from bringing the government down on . De Gaulle. The Referendum was in two parts. This mini-constitution sketched out. De Gaulle was re-elected – unanimously – as the head of this provisional government but quickly found himself in difficulty. Before the end of this time. a majority of 96%). Only the Radicals – who had been the dominant party under the Third Republic –and various smaller right wing parties voted in favour of rejecting the Fourth Republic. the president of the provisional government was elected by the assembly and his choice of government and the programme that it was to adopt was then approved by the assembly. with the Socialists and the Christian Democrats had been in favour of a double yes. the nature of the relations that the public institutions were to have. The Communist Party did particularly well: the Communists gained 27% of the seats (160 MPs) and the Socialists 25% (146 MPs). A “yes” vote would correspond to a tightly regulated form of provisional government as laid down in the 8 article “draft constitution” appended to the referendum.(refusing to grant them any key ministries such as the Home Office. in skeleton form. a “no” vote would leave the provisional government with more room to manoeuvre. the priority had been the setting up a functioning and legitimate government. At the end of 1945. The question then was what form this provisional government would take. The referendum rejected the Third Republic by a huge majority (by more than 18 million against to 700. A year after the Liberation. his own hold on power turned out to be only transitional. a new constitution had to be presented for adoption by referendum. If they voted “yes” to the first question then a provisional government – with the power to draft a new constitution – would be created. six months after the end of the War. SFIO and the Communists – only one of which. The provisional government was granted a period of 7 months to come up with a new constitution (after which time new elections would have to be held). new elections for another provisional government would have to he held. had won a clear victory. the Third Republic would be retained. the MRP. The three parties.

hence to the Fourth Republic – and a no-vote to the second question. they elected a new National Assembly. It re-elected de Gaulle as president of the provisional government but. led by a man who was an incarnation of national unity. The Resistance was a revolutionary response to this challenge. . Because De Gaulle refused to create a great political party unifying the non-Communist Resistance. serve particular interests and thus express national divisions. while France was liberated. and its triumph produced an entirely new political situation. However. General Charles de Gaulle is the symbol of the French Resistance to the Nazi occupation and the Vichy government. Yet. Author of the L'Appel of 18 June 1940. The provisional government implemented policies inspired by the programme of the National Council of Resistance: nationalization of banks and some industrial companies (for example Renault). For De Gaulle. Indeed. It was the three parties – the MRP (Christian-democrat). based in London. a lot of parties re-emerged. De Gaulle presided over the provisional government composed of Communists. In November 1945. and the development of a Welfare State. governing in the national interest. At the same time. it was divided about the way forward for political institutions and the constitution for the Fourth Republic. and founder and leader of the Free French Forces. The Christian democratic Popular Republican Movement (MRP) seemed to be the closest to De Gaulle. During 1945 and 1946 a national effort at indispensable economic reconstruction and a bitter “war of attrition” that involved all the ruling parties was to be found side by side. a large majority of the French voters accepted the elaboration of a new Constitution. disagreeing with restoration of the "regime of the parties". represented in Parliament. de Gaulle resigned in January 1946. In 1944. France is strong when it is united and the parties. The French Communist Party. the Socialist French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) and the Christian democratic MRP were the largest forces represented in this Assembly. the SFIO (socialists) and the PCF (the Communists) who had been in favour of a new constitution that were to go on to govern (actually eclipsing de Gaulle in the process). he was forced to compromise with the domestic Resistance movements dominated by various political forces (such as the Communists). He advocated a strong executive power. But the new-found national unity was quickly dissipated and he Communist presence at the heart of French power forced all groups to take sides. Defeat provided the opportunity for a counter-revolution. in his mind. the "regime of the parties" that had characterized the Third Republic was a cause of the 1940 military disaster. Socialists. then in Algiers. and Christian Democrats. This dominated the attempts to frame a new constitution.

leaving factional interests to play out in the parliamentary arena. It was under Bidault that the constitution for the Fourth Republic was finally drawn up. the process of the elaboration of the new Constitution went ahead without his presence (and he was to remain out of the political limelight for another 12 years). a process that had taken a full year. At this stage of things. De Gaulle Resigns and is Replaced by Gouin (January to May) Three months after the setting up of the first constituent assembly. a courageous . A l'est les gouvernements progressistes formés sur le modèle du Front populaire ne vont pas tarder à être liquidés par Staline au profit de régimes autoritaires à parti unique et à travers une féroce épuration politique teintée d’antisémitisme. in June of 1946 by Georges Bidault from the centre party. [In the end. As a result. the SFIO and the PCF). No less than de Gaulle – although without the status of having led the army – de Gouin had an impeccable record in the resistance. Felix Gouin (from the SFIO) took over as president of the provisional government (from late January to early June). the MRP.. The immediate effect of the resignation was to promote a Parliamentary “tripartism” (between the three parties. One month later. Gouin had the advantage of being amongst the small minority of the lower and upper chamber that had publicly refused to vote in the Petainiste regime in 1940. the provisional government that he presided over was dominated by Communists and Socialists hostile to his intentions. de Gaulle resigned as the head of the GPFR (at a time when the head of the state and the head of the government were the same). a new Assembly was elected in order to write a new constitutional text. However. De Gaulle had sought to promote an arrangement in which there was strong executive power that was over and above the legislature. both the Socialists and the Communists – who enjoyed an absolute majority – opposed this vision of things and de Gaulle threw in the towel on 19 January 1946. In fact.] The extent of his marginalisation during this period can be gauged by the fact that in the elections for the President of the Council that followed immediately after his resignation– won by Gouin with 497 votes – de Gaulle received only three votes. a first constitutional law was rejected by referendum. the MRP. He was briefly succeeded by Félix Gouin from the SFIO and then. de Gaulle was bereft of a political vehicle for his ideas and his position in this France of the immediate post-War years was tenuous.In May 1946. ~ Gouin. This executive power would act in the national interest. it would be the “events” in Algeria that would eventually propel de Gaulle back into power at the head of the strong presidential regime that he had already wished to see from the mid-forties onwards.

Finally. their project for the Constitution did not see the light of day. This was the body responsible for coordinating the resistance activities in Algeria (under Giraud) and London (under de Gaulle). ni se voir opposé de façon démagogique à la démocratie représentative. The CFLN was the immediate forerunner of the GPFR (gouvernement provisoire de la République française). pourvu que celle-ci soit débarrassée de ses pesanteurs et que soit stoppée la dérive monarchique propre à la Vème République. Following the resignation of de Gaulle. voted for by universal suffrage). The government's mandate was to last 5 years. . By the end of November 1943. This was then to be submitted to referendum in May. on ne saurait réussir au pouvoir sans rendre réelle la souveraineté du peuple. the Conseil de L'Union Française. However. The stumbling block remained the shape of the institutions that the Fourth Republic was to adopt. They hoped that they would be able to dominate such a Parliament (without any elaborate system of checks and balances provided for by a stronger presidential regime or by a second chamber). souvent invoquée mais jamais respectée. It was not unsurprising. personal friend) – in the free French region under control of the Vichy regime – during the Riom trial. the government was to be flanked by a Conseil économique and an organ responsible for the colonies. that Gouin should be placed at the head of the Assemblée consultative provisoire. The Communists and the Socialists were in favour of a strong parliamentary regime (with one chamber) and hence a weak presidential regime under which the President of the Republic was to have an honorary or symbolic role. The “tri-party” government came up with a draft constitution in the third week of April 1946. The Riom trial was an attempt by Petain (and behind him the Nazis) to present the causes of the War and the defeat of France as having been the fault of the Popular Front Government. as a result. Et cette souveraineté a besoin de vérité. Mais l’exercice de la citoyenneté ne doit être ni un gadget. pas de promesses. ni demeurer une incantation. En retour.act in the circumstances. He had then gone on to defend Blum (a close. Gouin found himself at the head of the CFLN (Comité francais de la Libération nationale). A weak presidential regime. The President of the Council (the Prime Minister) was elected by the Parliament and the government and its programme had to be approved by the Parliament. the initiative in the process of elaborating the new constitution had gone over to the Socialists.

Louis Darquier de Pellepoix ou Joseph Darnand. quotes the historian. the liberation of Paris itself cost the lives of over 6. Daniel Cordier ou Jacques Renouvin7.” Allan Little.) but it could never . dissolution of the cabinet only on condition of an absolute parliamentary majority and so on). 000 civilians dead – the liberation was very much a popular insurrection – and 3. In addition to having been severely damaged by the war. page 149) estimates that those that actively fought in the resistance amounted to around 2% of the adult population. of course. et la minorité de ceux qui entrèrent en résistance contre les nazis tels Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves. De Gaulle and the MRP were opposed (demanding a second chamber and reinforcement of the president). 1992.F.000 were British or American. This being said. 000 German dead. They thus called on voters to reject this constitution (and the threat of communist/ socialist domination that it represented).forgive the British and Americans for the liberation. London. Pendant l'occupation. to restore pride to the French people and set about making his way . Gilbert Renault. les membres et les proches de l'Action française se divisèrent en trois groupes opposés : celui des maurrassiens orthodoxes soutenant le régime de Vichy conduit par le maréchal Pétain.In order to prevent the instability of the Third Republic. either by their association with the defeat in 1940 (particularly the Radicals) or by the role they had played during the occupation (the “Vichyists”). the BBC correspondent. that the French were more directly involved in the landings in the south of France some two months after D-Day. a number of measures were taken to ensure that the government could not be brought down over questions of merely secondary importance (reinforcement of the regime governing a vote of no confidence in the government. Resistance and the Communists For Harold MacMillan later reflecting on France's relation to what the French call the “AngloSaxons”: “France had made peace with Germany (. was not exactly what de Gaulle could say. The historian J. instead. celui des collaborationnistes ouvertement pro-nazis tels Robert Brasillach. Over 4.. McMillan in Twentieth Century France (Edward Arnold. However. France was sharply divided between groups whose legitimacy depended on the role they had played during the resistance and others who were now compromised.. Paul Chack. Andrew Roberts' calculation that of the 4. it might be noted.never . with about 3. 500 men that died during the D-Day landings. That the initial liberation of France had involved an allied effort. only 19 were French. 000 people of which. He strove. Charles Lesca. Pierre Bénouville.

it gave back to a great nation its sense of dignity and pride.F McMillan puts it: “The Resistance was important as an enormous boost to French morale (…) In permitting Frenchmen to have some share not only in their own liberation but in setting the whole of Europe free from the Nazi yoke. As a result. defending ideals of Christian faith – and acquiring legitimacy on the basis of the “Christian resistance” –but also secular politics in a republican.” (page 149) The parties that came to power could all claim legitimacy as having actively struggled for the liberation of the country from the Nazi invasion. in the context of post-War politics. on the margins. on the one hand. Communists and the Socialists). the left remained divided by historically established distinctions emerging from the Second and Third Internationals (driving a wedge between the L'après-guerre[modifier] Article détaillé : Histoire de la laïcité en France. on the other hand. à la fois comme dirigeant politique en France et de l’Internationale communiste (IC). The right for its part remained riven between Gaullists (later to become the dominant force on the right) and political forces that were largely rooted in a Christian Democratic movement emerging from the Third Republic. The MRP was the best positioned to take advantage of the new state of affairs. In their eyes. a lui-même approché la question du parti et de l’État. whilst attempting to reign in a resistance movement that was now dominated by his political adversaries.through the quagmire of an administration that had been heavily implicated in collaboration with the Germans. . de Gaulle chose to stress the resistance but in so doing was forced into praising his political opponents. Religion However. et comme membre du gouvernement. Consequently. the main danger was that the new France would be dominated by the Communists. lay two small parties that enjoyed only a limited hold on power (the Radicals and Mitterand's UDSR with less than 25% of the share of seats in the Assembly between them). Il est donc indispensable de revenir à la façon dont Maurice Thorez. principal artisan des alliances de 1936. Even so. de la Résistance et de la Libération. rather than abandon power – as de Gaulle had done – they remained in the democratic fray represented by the “tri-party” government. as J. the Communists and the Socialists. Beyond them. humanist and social-democrat mode.

à la tête de la Fédération nationale catholique.C’est à l’occasion de la Première Guerre mondiale que la question religieuse est reléguée au second plan et que l’« Union sacrée » rassemble une France unie sous la bannière tricolore. jusque là incontournables dans toute coalition depuis le tournant du siècle (à l'exception de la période 1919-1924). un gouvernement associant les trois partis en question. que s'est attelé le Tripartisme. le Parti communiste français et le Mouvement républicain populaire. Les relations diplomatiques sont rétablies avec le Vatican. dans un premier temps. La querelle religieuse menace de se rallumer après le succès du Cartel des gauches aux législatives du 11 mai 1924. une nouvelle vigueur. Ce dernier décide en effet. dont le nouveau pape Benoît XV se montre autrement plus conciliant que Pie X. le Tripartisme apparaît comme tel après la démission du chef du gouvernement. notamment en promettant de consulter Paris avant la nomination des évêques. L'anticléricalisme militant finit par décliner cependant que les Églises retrouvent. d'étendre le Concordat à l'Alsace-Lorraine. malgré de fortes oppositions idéologiques. et d'honorer le souvenir de Jeanne d'Arc en proclamant fête nationale le deuxième dimanche de mai. D'abord associé au général de Gaulle. le gouvernement décide tout à la fois de transférer au Panthéon de Paris le cœur de Gambetta. L’anticléricalisme militant décline et finit par s’éteindre. qui dirige. De son côté. Cette coalition a été rendue possible. après les élections de 1945. élaboré en commun. il reconnaît les évêques comme des interlocuteurs légitimes. Les évêques mobilisent les catholiques avec le concours du général de Castelnau. C'est d'ailleurs à la mise en œuvre du Programme du Conseil national de la Résistance. lors de l’annexion à l’Allemagne. Au sortir de la guerre. L’Alsace et la Lorraine rattachées à la France sont maintenues dans le statut de Concordat qu’elles avaient en 1870. Reconstruction The Tri-party Government Le Tripartisme est une expression désignant la coalition gouvernementale formée entre 1946 et 1947 par les trois principaux partis politiques français d'après-guerre : la Section française de l'Internationale ouvrière (parti socialiste). par les combats menés en commun dans le cadre de la résistance. et dont le préambule de la constitution de 1946 est l'héritage le plus marquant. Cette coalition a rejeté dans l'opposition les radicaux. notamment entre les démocrates-chrétiens du MRP et les communistes athées. en . l'État français concède aux associations diocésaines placées sous l'autorité des évêques le statut d'« associations cultuelles » : autrement dit. illustre fondateur de la République. et le gouvernement renonce à remettre en cause les arrangements antérieurs. avec leur liberté.

The war shook France out of the economic stagnation and political entropy that had marked the last years of the Third Republic. The early reforms brought in by the new government (over the course of the next two years) were largely those traditionally associated with the left and included the following measures: ~ nationalisation (of the banks and of insurance companies. causé par la situation quasi-insurrectionnelle due aux grandes grèves menées par la CGT. Amongst the difficult problems that were confronted over the next decade. Reforms During the last months of the war and the years that followed it. principal syndicat français. as a result. the following stand out: ~ the organisation of the speed and financing of reconstruction ~ the terms of reconciliation with the defeated Germans (in the context of the Cold War) ~ the construction of greater European cooperation (and. of Renault and Air France) ~ the economy was organised around broadly Keynesian policies (aided by loans from the United States) ~ the creation of a new social security regime In addition. there was clearly a strong desire for social reform. It was in the context of the dramatic surge in fortunes of the Communist Party. the most urgent task was that of creating the momentum necessary to the task of reconstruction. the European Community) ~ the terms of the relations that France was to have with the United States The last factor is of particular interest: ~ the status of the colonies (in a country that no longer had the finances to properly hold them down) Given that the left and the extreme left had an absolute majority with the first elections held to organise the new constitution. Le Tripartisme s'achève par le renvoi des ministres communistes par le président du Conseil Paul Ramadier. dont la direction est alors totalement inféodée au parti communiste lui-même aux ordres de Moscou (Komintern). of the energy industry. . in fact. that socialist principles and philosophy were studied with fresh vigour.désaccord avec la majorité des députés sur la forme de la nouvelle constitution.

specifically. Indeed.historically Prussia . It also included. . a more enlightened conception of the role Germany was to have in the post-War period (and the nature of the reparations that the country was to pay) was advanced within this framework.being placed under Soviet tutelage. of course. this also included. By comparison with the period after the First World War. ~ the new Constitution recognised he fundamental principles of republican democracy as these included freedom or speech and freedom of association. post-War modernisation in France. Moreover. by the different governments across Europe including the Labour Government in Britain. was largely successful. chasing the spectre of renewed European war from the political stage. the right to strike and to participate in the collective decision making process in companies. At the same time. the right to employment (as recognised by the Constitution. However. an anathema to the Anglo-American mind) ~ international law and the right to asylum were recognised ~ right to vote was extended women alongside the constitutional recognition of equality between the sexes ~ brothels were prohibited and closed (the Marthe Richard Law) Similar measures were brought in. the new economic policy produced an economic boom under the Fourth Republic (with growth in excess of 5%). the right to form trades unions. by any measure. Germany nevertheless had a high price to pay: it was a country that had now been amputated of its eastern territories with a drastically shrunken eastern Germany .~ the laws brought in under Vichy were rescinded (seen as result of an illegal break with the legitimate state). one of the major achievements of the Fourth Republic was that it laid the basis for the new Europe. at least for those that believe that the European Union has successfully contributed to postWar stability.

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