Domestic Policy
France 1959-1968
Domestic Policy
France 1949-1959
the Economy

France 1949-1959 : Domestic Life

CHARLES DE GAULLE saw himself as a politician standing above the political parties; the Rally for the French People (RPF) he had founded in 1947 was not intended as a political party, and when it developed into one (and a rather successful one), de Gaulle withdrew.
France saw a succession of short-lived governments which had to deal with numerous problems - DECOLONIZATION in general and the colonial wars, most notably the one in ALGERIA, which polarized the French nation. Algeria had a strong minority population of white settlers, about 1 million strong, most of whom were conservative and adamant that France should hold on to what was her colony since 1830/1848. The army in Algeria was equally determined to hold on to it. Other problems included labour unrest, supported the communist party which, after having been France's strongest party just after the war, once having entered the opposition, organized strikes to place pressure on the government. French intellectuals (JEAN-PAUL SARTRE etc.) became increasingly critical of the French government because of the actions of the French army in Algeria (torture, summary executions).
When a new administration under PIERRE PFLIMLIN was formed in 1959, settlers and the army in Algeria organized massive demonstrations (fearing the new administration would grant independence to Algeria). France was in a chaos.
In this situation CHARLES DE GAULLE appealed to the French population suggesting a revision of the constitution and a new beginning. Prime minister Pflimlin stepped down, de Gaulle won the support of several political parties and a referendum over the new constitution, the latter approved by 79 % of French voters. The constitution strengthened the powers of the president at the expense of both the prime minister and parliament.

Howard Rosenthal, Government Instability with Perfect Spatial Voting. France 1946-1958
France, in : Kenneth Janda, Political Parties : A Cross-National Survey
DOCUMENTS List of presidents, premiers, from World Statemen by Ben Cahoon
Time Magazine : Charles de Gaulle, man of the year 1958
TEXTES sur la Guerre d'Algerie (1954-1962), from cliotexte
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.172-186
Andrew Shennan, Profiles in Power : De Gaulle, Harlow : Pearson 1993 [G]
Article : France, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1950 pp.300-303, 1951 pp.306-309, 1952 pp.298-301, 1953 pp.293-297, 1954 pp.292-296, 1955 pp.339-342, 1956 pp.277-280, 1957 pp.339-342, 1958 pp.274-278, 1959 pp.270-275, 1960 pp.271-274 [G]
Article : France, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1952 pp.167-170 [G]
Article : France, in : Americana Annual 1957 pp.296-302 (on events of 1956) [G]

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First posted in 2001, last revised on September 28th 2007

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