France 1949-1959
Domestic Policy
France 1944-1949
the Economy

France 1944-1949 : Domestic Policy

Liberation : In the second half of 1944, France speedily was liberated (German-held fortresses on the Atlantic coast, such as St. Nazaire and Lorient, held out almost until the end of the war). A provisional government under Gen. Charles de Gaulle took over, a multiparty coalition.

Collaborators : The leaders of the Vichy administration attempted to flee into areas still held by the Germans; the allies handed over those they got a hold of to the French. The new French authorities dealt harshly with collaborators (about 10,000 of them were executed); the Vichy officials were treated as traitors to the national cause. NS symbols, such as the swastika, are still outlawed in France. Yet the majority of those accused of collaboration were acquitted by the courts.

The Provisional Government, 1944-1947 : In October 1945 elections were held. Three parties - the Communists (PCF), the Popular Republican Movement (MRP, progressive Catholics) and the Socialists (SFIO) all gaining about 25 % of the votes. They formed a coalition government, tripartism, which left the Republicans (9 %) in the opposition. Political reforms implemented included the universal womanhood franchise. A new constitution was adopted in 1946. As other governments in continental Europe in 1945, the French were faced with the task of reconstructing economy and state. The economy was in a poor condition, and socialism enjoyed widespread support. Coal mines, providers of electricity (1946) and gas, Renault, the airline industry were nationalized, social security introduced. Rapid economic recovery (1946) was accompanied by inflation at a significant rate. In 1947 the rench government mplemented a policy aiming at reducing prices, in part achieved by state subsidies. 1947 saw demonstrations and strikes, against low food rations, against the freezing of prices etc. An extraordinarily poor harvest in 1947 did not help improve the situation.

In 1947 the status of Provisional Government was ended and, after yet another election, a regular government formed, without the Communists and without Charles de Gaulle, who formed a new party, the Rally for the French People (RPF ).

France 1947-1949 : government coalitions were short-lived; despite government attempts to check inflation, prices rose, causing the trade unions to demand wage raises. France's policy of trying to hold on to her colonial empire - in Indochina France faced armed resistance - proved costly. France was a major beneficiary of the Marshall Plan.

Howard Rosenthal, Government Instability with Perfect Spatial Voting. France 1946-1958
Article Renault, Robert Schuman U.S. Occupation Franc, Electricite de France, from Wikipedia
Ted Rall, Dubious Liberators : Allied Plans to Occupy France, 1942-1944 (1991)
DOCUMENTS List of presidents, premiers, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
La Constitution du 27 octobre 1946 (texte complet), from cliotexte, from Led Textes Republicaines, in French
Le mouvement ouvrier francais et les immigres apres la seconde guerre mondiale. Quelques documents, posted by AHI
REFERENCE Roger Price, A Concise History of France, Cambridge Concise Histories, 1993, pp.228-246
W. Scott Haine, The History of France, Greenwood Histories of Modern Nations, 2000, pp.172-179
Janet Flanner, Paris Journal, 1944-1955, San Diego : HBJ (1944-1955) 1998, 314 pp. [G]
Antony Beevor, Artemis Cooper, Paris after the Liberation 1944-1949, London : Penguin 1994 [G]
Andrew Shennan, Profiles in Power : De Gaulle, Harlow : Pearson 1993 [G]
Article : France, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1945 pp.297-300, 1946 pp.325-328, 1947 pp.340-343, 1948 pp.325-329, 1949 pp.281-285 [G]
Article : France, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1946 pp.176-179 [G]
Article : France, in : Americana Annual 1947 pp.267-272 (on events of 1946) [G]
Edward Mortimer, France, pp.151-168 in : Martin McCauley (ed.), Communist Power in Europe 1944-1949, London : MacMillan 1977 [G]

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First posted in 2000, last revised on November 25th 2009

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