2. The political system
At the end of the First World War, in 1919, regular elections were held in the French Chamber of Deputies. Parliamentary life resumed. It differed little from the French parliamentary life of the XIX century. Only the average deputy and senator became insignificant, the circle of leaders influencing the decision of state affairs has already become. The Chamber's regulations were changed in the direction of some restriction of the debate and an increase in the power of the chairman.
The role of the undemocratic by the way of election of the senate has relatively increased. The resignation of the Cabinet as a result of an unfavorable vote of the Senate became commonplace. Thus, the upper chamber overthrew the offices of Herriot and Painleva in 1925, Briand's office in 1929, Tardieu in 1930, and Blum in 1937. The Chamber of Deputies never challenged the principle of government responsibility before both chambers, formally established Art. 7 of the Constitutional Law on February 25, 1875.
The importance and number of parliamentary commissions increased. In 1936 there were already 26 commissions in the Chamber of Deputies. Of these, the most influential was the financial one. In the Senate, there were 11 commissions.
The Parliament was even more weakened by the multiparty system than before the war; the number of parliamentary groups exceeded the number of parties in the country. The number of groups and groups in the ward tended to grow; in 1925 there were 11 factions in the Chamber, 18 in 1832, 17 in 1936, and almost invariably seven groups in the Senate and many so-called "independent" ones.
The electoral right remains unchanged. Adopted by the Chamber of Deputies in 1919, the law on granting the right to vote to women was in 1922, to the greatest relief of the majority of deputies, rejected by the Senate. There were changes in the electoral system. In 1919 it was decided to switch to the voting system by the list, by departments. This was not, however, the introduction of proportional representation. The list that received the absolute majority was held in its entirety, and only if no list in the department received the majority was made complex calculations on a pro rata basis. This system turned invariably against the leftist parties, whose strength was in the cities. In 1919, the Socialist Party collected 1.7 million votes against 1.4 million received in 1914, but lost a third of the seats. In 1924 the Communists collected 125,000 more votes than the Socialists, but received four times less mandates. In the electoral colleges that elected senators, the overwhelming majority was still provided by representatives of rural communities.
In July 1927, it was decided to return to the majority system. The majority system in 1932 justified the hopes of the bourgeoisie. The Communists gathered a million votes and won only 10 mandates, while the socialists, for example, received 100 seats, collecting less than 2 million votes. But the experience of 1936 showed that it is for democratic parties to unite, and they can overcome the difficulties of the majority electoral system.Describing the French electoral system, M. Cachin wrote: "The fact is that, fearing the proletarian movement, the French bourgeoisie divided France and Paris into small districts, which Bryan once called standing bogs. Candidates of all parties take part in the first round of elections in these districts, and rarely the candidate of any party receives a decisive majority. It is necessary to appoint a second round, on which, however, all candidates of different parties unite against the candidates of the Communist Party. If we combine the number of votes received by the Communist Party in all these districts, then this number will be quite impressive. But only in the rarest of cases the communist can get more votes than all the candidates of other parties put together. Thus, the Communist Party has, as the Gospel says, many called, but few elected. "
The Institute of the Head of State did not undergo significant changes during this period. With the end of President Poincare's powers (January 1920), the Third Republic did not already know the active presidents. After Milleránan's unsuccessful attempt to interfere in the party struggle on the side of the rightists in 1924, the victorious election "left cartel" forced the formally irresponsible head of state to resign, and the parties resumed a tacit contract for the election of only minor persons to the presidency (Dumerg, Dumer, Lebrun). This, however, had its downside: in 1940, when the forces of supporters and opponents of capitulation in the ruling circles were almost equal, much depended on President Lebrun's decision. He could not, of course, hinder the occupation of France by the enemy, but he could appoint a government that would move to Algeria and continue the struggle. The vile President did not dare to fulfill his constitutional duty and submissively gave way to Petain.
Council of Ministers.
The period of 1918-1940. was a period of continuous growth of power of the Council of Ministers and especially its chairman (prime minister). True, the average duration of one cabinet fell to 6 months (in the previous period - 9 months), but more than ever, the same persons were appointed to the cabinet: Brian, who was eleven times the head of the government and the minister in almost all Tardieu, Shotan, Painlevé, Flandin, Laval, Daladier and a dozen other persons were the narrow circle that supplied the ministers to France.
After Clemenceau, there was no longer any controversy about the opinion that a powerful chairman of the Council of Ministers is needed in the Third Republic. All the premieres, down to Daladier, sought to be like the "tiger". The Office of the Prime Minister has grown and pressed down a number of ministries. From January 1933, the chairman of the Council of Ministers consisted of councils for the national economy (in which, among other things, representatives of the professions were sitting), the Supreme Council of National Defense, etc. Paul Deschanel, who was both prime minister and presidential post, wrote : "The law-enforced authority of the chairman of the Council of Ministers has gradually absorbed other authorities. It destroyed or paralyzed the power of the president of the republic, the chairman of the chamber, ministers, the chambers themselves, who in the great historical drama are only able to register the accomplished facts. "
The practice of uncontrolled delegated legislation was practiced not only by Poincare, Doumerg, Laval and Daladier, under which she flourished, but also by all other premiers. The last head of the government of the Third Republic, Paul Reynaud, said in the House that every time the parliament approves the budget, it automatically thereby approves all the extraordinary decrees issued earlier. This absurd thesis met the full approval of the House (from which the Communists were already removed).
Administrative division and local government remained in general in the same form as existed before the war. In each of the 90 departments, the prefect, an official of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, was the full owner. In 38,014 communes there were municipal councils, elected by universal suffrage by the system of proportional representation for a period of 6 years. The activities of the municipalities were even more restrained than before the war of 1914-1918. They were not allowed, in particular, to open their enterprises.
The End of the Third Republic.
Despite the fact that the actual state system of the Third Republic was very far from genuine democracy, the leading bourgeois politicians had long demanded that the Constitution be revised in a reactionary spirit. Tardieu, Poincaré and Doumerg in 1933-1934. raised the issue of abolishing the parliamentary responsibility of the government.
After Daladier succeeded in removing the only genuine defenders of democracy - the Communists - from the parliament, the majority in the Chamber of Deputies was found in the right-wing parties, and even those rightists who were not supporters of the Germans were still supporters of the abolition of parliamentary institutions. At a meeting of the National Assembly convened by Petain in July 1940 (a joint session of both chambers), 649 deputies and senators from 932 attended. By a majority of 569 votes against 80, the French parliament committed suicide and betrayal, giving Pétain the power to legislate and the right to issue a new constitution. This decree served as the legal basis for the Vichy puppet regime.
However, the authority to issue constitutional acts was given to Petain provided that he submitted them for approval of the people's representation. Since this was never done, the July decision lost all legal significance, and Petain's regime was formally, as in fact, a pure usurpation.
By the first decree, Petain appropriated himself the title, rights and functions of the head of the French state. The post of the president of the republic was abolished. The very word republic was no longer used. The second decree explained that "the head of the French state has all the fullness of state power." He appoints and dismisses ministers and state secretaries who are responsible only to him ... He exercises legislative power in the Council of Ministers ... proclaims laws and ensures their execution ... He appoints to all positions ... has the right to amnesty ... ratifies treaties ... can declare a state of siege ...
The convocation of the Chambers was first postponed indefinitely, and then (on August 25, 1942) they were completely abolished. Petain promised to convene a new legislative assembly, but, of course, he did not. On January 22, 1941, he was appointed a consultative meeting of two hundred completely reliable from a fascist point of view. But this body did not play any role. On April 18, 1942, when Laval became prime minister, "the head of the French state" entrusted him with all executive power, and on November 17, 1942, when the unoccupied zone ceased to exist, he transferred Laval and his "right" legislate. In fact, France was ruled by the Germans through special commissions created to monitor the fulfillment of the armistice between France and Germany.
On the way to the Fourth Republic.
The embryo of the future government of the Fourth Republic was formed on June 23, 1940 in London, the Provisional French National Committee with de Gaulle at the head, consisting of nine so-called "national commissioners". The power of the Committee recognized from the very beginning a number of French colonies. Recognized by the British government as the leader of all free Frenchmen, de Gaulle began to form his own armed forces. In October 1942, the movement, headed by de Gaulle, adopted the name "Fighting France".
As mentioned above, Admiral Darlan, and after his death, General Giraud attempted, and after the landing of the Allies in North Africa, to preserve there a semblance of the Vichy regime. On December 7, 1942, Darlan proclaimed himself "the head of state in North Africa". Giraud called himself (February 7, 1943) "the French civilian and military commander-in-chief" and appointed with him a consultative committee of generals and an economic council. However, the population of North Africa did not want to deal with the "commander-in-chief", then the French National Liberation Committee, which arrived in Algiers in July 1943, was created under the double presidency of de Gaulle and Giraud. In November 1943, Giraud had to retire, and North Africa finally became the base of the "Fighting France" movement. The French National Liberation Committee established the Consultative Assembly, which included representatives from the general councils of Algeria and Algerian political organizations, representatives of the Resistance movement in France and 20 former deputies and senators. The Assembly was an advisory body, but it paved the way for the restoration of French parliamentarism.
On April 21, 1044, the FCSE issued a decree stating that the National Constituent Assembly, which would decide the question of the state system of the French Republic, should be convened one year after the liberation of France. All laws and decrees issued in Vichy were declared invalid.
Shortly thereafter, the Consultative Assembly asked the FCSC to rename it to the Provisional Government of the French Republic, which was done. In August 1944 the government, as already indicated, moved to Paris.
October 9, 1944 the Advisory Assembly was reorganized; in its structure was introduced 248 people, of which 151 - figures of the movement of the internal Resistance.
The first free elections were municipal elections in April-May 1945. Based on the decree issued in Algeria, for the first time women participated in the elections. The turnout for the elections was a record for France - 80-90%.
Constituent Assembly and referendum.
In October 1945, elections to the Constituent Assembly took place and at the same time a referendum was held in which the law on the temporary organization of power, which was strongly de fi ned by the majority of (66%) votes approved by all parties except the communist one, severely restricted the rights of the Constituent Assembly.
The meeting was to work out and submit to the voters' approval a draft constitution within a seven-month period. It could also, at the suggestion of the government, take the so-called organic laws, for example, on nationalization. It approved income (but not expenditure) budget items. The rest belonged to the Provisional Government.
The Constituent Assembly was to elect the head of the Provisional Government (he and the interim head of state), then to approve the composition of the council of ministers proposed by him, after which the government in fact no longer held responsibility before the Assembly, as it was not obliged to resign in case of unfavorable for of the vote of the Assembly.
This form of organization of power was effective even after the election of the second Constituent Assembly on July 2, 1946, until a new Constitution was adopted on September 30, 1946 and with the election of the President of the Republic.
The first draft constitution drafted by the Constituent Assembly after a long struggle between left and right parties was put to a popular vote on May 5, 1946. In the Constituent Assembly, it was adopted by 309 votes to 249. However, as a result of the referendum, the draft was rejected: for him 47% of the vote (9.3 million people) voted, 53% (10.5 million) voted against it.
In the constitutional issue, the reaction rallied mainly around the demand of the second chamber and the broad powers of the president.The second chamber wanted to have a reaction as a counterbalance to the National Assembly (the lower house), which prevents the latter from implementing social and economic reforms. For this, of course, it was necessary to ensure the appropriate composition of the upper chamber. De Gaulle suggested that she be elected by trusts, concerns and banks, which he cautiously united under the name of "economic" organizations, municipalities and "intellectual"; societies. Another part of the reaction wanted to entrust the staffing of the upper chamber to the general and municipal bodies alone. The right-wing parties, including the MCI, expanded the powers of the president in the hope that this would enable their presidential candidate de Gaulle to arbitrarily and uncontrollably control France.
The first draft of the constitution, the main and most consistent defender of which was the Communist Party, provided for a unicameral parliament and seriously restricted the rights of the president.
Following the rejection of this project, elections to the new Constituent Assembly took place. In these elections (June 1946), the Communist Party received 140,000 more votes than in October 1945, but by electoral mechanics lost four seats. The largest number of seats received the MCI, although the number of those who voted for it increased by only 9,000. In the second Constituent Assembly, this party had 162 mandates instead of 145 in the first, the Communist Party - 148 seats instead of 152.
Socialists suffered a major defeat, as already indicated. For six months they lost more than 300 thousand votes and received 120 seats instead of 136.
In discussing the second draft of the constitution, the left parties were forced to make some concessions, which, however, did not violate the general democratic and progressive character of the constitution. They agreed to the introduction of the second chamber (the Council of the Republic), whose rights, however, are limited to recommendations to the National Assembly, not binding on the latter. The election of members of the Council is fundamentally democratic. Having slightly expanded the president's rights in comparison with the previous draft, the constitution took measures against turning the president into a dictator.
The MCI joined the communists and socialists, and the draft constitution was adopted by the Constituent Assembly. The referendum on October 13, 1946 brought its approval, though by an insignificant majority (53% spoke in favor, 47% - against).
In November 1946, according to the new Constitution, elections to the National Assembly took place. For the Communist Party voted for 430 thousand more than in June. The new elections were a new defeat for the socialists, who brutally paid for anti-communist propaganda and appeals to the class world by the loss of workers' votes. For 5-6 months they lost 643 thousand voters. The MCI lost about half a million votes, but in comparison with the Constituent Assembly it managed to increase the composition of its faction by one deputy.
Thus, the Communists came first in terms of the number of votes they collected, and in terms of the number of seats (186). They own 30% of all mandates.
Democratization of the economic system. The elections to the Constituent Assembly and the referendum clearly illustrate the considerable fielding not only of the bulk of the French working class, but also of that part of the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie who, in voting for the Communist Party, thereby expressed agreement to democratize not only the state system but also the French economy .
The strength of the French reaction is still in the fact that in its hands are important levers of economic pressure. The idea of nationalizing industry and banks was born in the depths of the Resistance during the struggle against Germany. It was defended not only by the working class, for which the realization of nationalization means an increase in its share in the national income, it was supported also by a part of the petty bourgeoisie and craftsmen, devastated by the concentration of production carried out by the Germans and enriched the notorious "200 families." The co-operation of big business with the enemy made this measure even more popular. It should be noted that, considering these sentiments, the MCI was to include slogans in its program against the trusts and, although in words, but to join the program of economic reconstruction.
Following the categorical demands of the Communist Party, de Gaulle's government was forced back in 1944 to nationalize the coal mines of the North and the Pas-de-Calais, which accounted for the Uz of all French coal mining, Renault automobile plants, Gnome and Ron aircraft plants, as well as the Air Traffic Company. This nationalization was largely fictitious. Coal companies received large amounts of money from the state.
In 1945, when communist Marcel Paul came to the post of minister of industrial production and the entire government was more left-wing, the French bank and four other largest banks of France were nationalized.
The Constituent Assembly held the nationalization of electricity and gas production, insurance companies, in whose hands were colossal funds, Algerian Bank and all coal mines of the country. Despite the desperate resistance of the electric tranches, the agents of which advocated the MRP, despite the resistance of insurance and other companies affected by nationalization, finally, despite the active pressure from Britain and the USA, the first round of the struggle for the economic revival of France on a new progressive basis ended in a victory for the working class and his party.
However, the task has not been solved yet, while in the hands of the trusts there is ferrous metallurgy, the non-ferrous metals industry and other industries for which the Communists are now fighting for the nationalization.
The "battle for production", carried out by the working class under the leadership of the Communist Party, has brought about serious results - and mainly in nationalized enterprises. Already in October 1946, coal production amounted to 109% of the pre-war level, the freight turnover of railways - 102%, etc.In a difficult struggle against reaction, the Communist Party and the General Confederation of Labor achieved an increase in the wages of workers by 17.2-38%, the equalization of women's wages to men's wages, the increase in the salaries of civil servants, and the increase in the wages of agricultural workers- successes of the Communist Party.
The new French Constitution.
The adoption of the new Constitution was preceded, as already mentioned, by an acute and prolonged political struggle. The reaction, the program of which General de Gaulle developed most vividly in his speech in Baye on June 16, 1946, would prefer a dictatorship, not a democratic government. But the reaction could not establish a new authoritarian force, as this would have repelled the entire French people, and above all the working class, led by the Communists and the General Confederation of Labor. On the other hand, the forces of democracy, despite their organization and power, could not act by extra-parliamentary methods, since behind de Gaulle stood the military might of Great Britain and the United States. Therefore, both reaction and democracy were forced to seek solutions to the issue by voting, by fighting around the new Constitution.
Approved on October 13, 1946, the Constitution bears many traces of political compromise, but is fundamentally a democratic document. It revives the ancient Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen of 1789, but supplements it with such democratic principles as the equality of women, the prohibition of all discrimination based on origin, belief and religion, the duty of citizens to work, the right to organize trade unions and strikes, free secular education , the right of the state to limit private monopolies, the renunciation of aggressive wars and respect for international law. The Constitution proclaims the principle of universal, equal, direct suffrage by secret ballot. The electoral law, adopted simultaneously with the Constitution, provides suffrage to men and women, not excluding servicemen, and introduces a proportional representation. Each department is one constituency, with the exception of the seven largest departments, which are divided into several districts.
The National Assembly, elected for a five-year term, is the lower house. The second chamber is the Council of the Republic, but it is very different from the former senate. Laws come from the National Assembly (which can not delegate to anybody the legislature), and the Council of the Republic has only the right to propose its amendments within two months. If there is no agreement between the chambers, the decision belongs to the National Assembly. The government bears political responsibility before the National Assembly. Elections to the Council of the Republic are two-stage, but the overwhelming majority of members of the electoral collegia are delegates elected through general elections on the basis of proportional representation. The panel also includes general and municipal councilors and deputies of the National Assembly from the department. The sixth part of the Council of the Republic is appointed by the National Assembly.
The President of the Republic is elected at a joint meeting of the National Assembly and Council of the Republic by secret ballot for 7 years, and can only be re-elected once. He has the right within no more than 10 days to ask the parliament to reconsider the adopted law. If the president does not promulgate the law within the established time limit, the chairman of the National Assembly does. The president appoints to higher civilian and military positions, but these acts, like all others, require the bickering of the chairman of the council of ministers and the corresponding minister. The prime minister appointed by the president can not begin to form a cabinet until the National Assembly by an absolute majority votes to approve his candidacy and his program.
The Constitution establishes that the executive power is entrusted to the council of ministers, and the leading role of its chairman is underlined. The Council of Ministers is obliged to resign if the National Assembly expresses its distrust by an absolute majority of votes, but after two government crises caused by a vote of the Assembly, the Council of Ministers may decide on the early dissolution of the National Assembly by a decree of the President.
In this case, during the election campaign, a government is formed of representatives of all parties headed by the chairman of the dissolved National Assembly. Such a transitional government is necessary in order to prevent attempts by government parties to influence elections or establish a single dictatorship.
The National Assembly is elected by a special Supreme Court to review political cases. All other courts are subordinate to the Superior Council of the Magistracy, consisting of the President of the Republic, the Minister of Justice, four representatives from judicial officials, two lawyers appointed by the President and six members elected by the National Assembly. The attempt of the reaction to preserve the judicial system, completely independent of the legislative power, failed.
The Constitution does not mention colonies, but refers to the French Union, consisting of the metropolis, overseas departments and territories, as well as the so-called united states, ie, autonomous colonies. The leadership of the Union belongs to the government.
The implementation of the democratic provisions in the new Constitution of the French Republic, of course, depends on the actual balance of the forces of democracy and reaction. The actual state system of France by early 1947 is still very far from what it should be under the Constitution. The economic power of the monopolies was not subject to the necessary restrictions. The state apparatus, both in the ministries and in the localities, consists almost entirely of the old officials of the Third Republic. Moreover, the bureaucratic apparatus has grown by one and a half times in comparison with the pre-war time. Judges of three quarters also remained old, and it even reached juries' strikes, outraged by the fact that the judges did not pass convictions to traitors to the country, which the jury found guilty. The practice of selling lawyer positions, etc.
Nothing has changed so far in the field of local government. Even supra-departmental regional associations ("reggeon") created under Petain were preserved, although in early 1946, at the suggestion of Thorez, the government commissars who headed these associations were recalled. Prefects remained full masters of departments, as it was before 1940
Nothing has been done to rebuild the French colonial empire on the basis of the principles of the new Constitution. The demand of the colonial peoples to grant them a statute of the united states was not granted, and against the people of Vietnam, which won its autonomy and the right to a consistently democratic constitution with weapons in its hands, an unjust war is being waged. The colonial administration remained wholly in the hands of the generals and administrators appointed at best by de Gaulle, and in the majority by the vichy authorities.
Thus, the adoption of the 1946 Constitution was only the beginning of a new stage in the political struggle in France.
The constitution has not yet been put into practice, as the right-wing parties and together with it a part of the socialists demanded its revision. Under this slogan, the French reaction came to the elections to the National Assembly (November 1946).The Ramadier government, led by the right-wing socialists and the MCI, took the path of violating the Constitution by removing May 5, 1947, by presidential decree of communist ministers from the Cabinet under the pretext of violating them "ministerial solidarity". >
The only reliable defender of the new French Constitution is the French Communist Party, which groups around itself all the most progressive forces and tirelessly working to unite the democratic forces of the country.
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