| République française
|Anthem: La Marseillaise|
|Official Language: French|
|Government: Unitary semi-presidential republic|
|Leader: President Jean-Marie Le Pen|
|Formation: French State 843 (Treaty of Verdun)
Current Constitution 1958 (5th Republic)
|Area: Total: 674,843 km 2
Metropolitan: 551,695 km2
|Currency: French franc|
|Timezone: GMT+1 (Summer; +2)|
Auriol, the "unifier"Edit
As France emerged from the Second World War a divided country, President Auriol led a resurgent Popular Front to government yet never really delivered on the terms that he had promised his people, by 1947 it seemed that France was in the grip of revolution as she was tasked with fighting a war in Indochina and across the rest of her colonies. Thanks to a generous donation of Marshall Aid the French Republic was able to diffuse revolutionary sentiment across Algeria thanks to a series of public health and social services programmes that put the nation on the path to progress, given a better position to negotiate the French Republic began to loosen her colonial ties and make way for independence. This is viewed with acceptance as home and the public are assured that all former colonies shall keep close links with France under the ‘French Union’ which asserted a certain level of French military control over France’s former Imperial dependencies and tied these nations to fight with France in case of a major war. Many people in the former French Empire applied for dual French-nationality bringing a multicultural society across France, migrants mainly settled across Marseilles and Paris.
In 1947 the Communist Party had organised a series of strikes that were aimed at brining the downfall of the Auriol government, the President took a strong stand against the strikers and put the armed on alert should they have to quell and attempt at revolution, his Prime Minister called for Auriol’s resignation – this was not given. In his Second Term as President he negotiated the French withdrawal from Algeria which became independent in 1956, however serious concessions were made to France by the Algerian government. The safety of French citizens was guaranteed by the Algerian government and the city of Annaba and the surrounding area was retained by the French Republic as a foothold on mainland Africa. This developed into a highly prosperous trading port. The situation in Vietnam was much different as the French were defeated by Vietnamese forces in 1954 and after this the French government had little to do with Indochina. The following years were ones of self-inspection by the French people, social reforms were introduced and the welfare state began to grow. The European Economic Community was also formed in 1948 as a reaction to the state of panic across the Continent it was decided that Marshall Aid alone could not defend the interests of Europe and together with the governments of the Kingdom of Benelux, Andorra, Denmark, Norway Sweden and the various Italian governments (with the exception of the Communist south) the EEC was born brining the economies of European nations closer and closer together, by 1951 Europe had recovered from war and was a stable trading partner again. The Fourth Republic was a symbol of national revival as former Pétainists and Resistance Leaders were involved in a government of unity which began to heal the scars of occupation.
When Auriol finally retired in 1962 it was due to exhaustion and personal health issues, his government was often spoken about as doing “too much too soon” and the resulting general election saw Charles De Gaulle finally assume the Presidency.
De Gaulle and Pompidou, tradition and renewalEdit
De Gaulle was elected as a strong-man who would stand up to the Soviet Union and the newly created German Democratic Republic, while Auriol had done well with stopping revolution in France many had said that he should have halted the East German advance into West Germany and the creation of a Communist state in Southern Italy. De Gaulle commissioned the building of a range of defences across the border with Germany to defend the Republic against “Communist aggression”, he also began a series of witch-hunts against members of the Communist Party – putting around 20 people to death in 1965 for high treason as they were plotting the overthrow of the Auriol government in 1947. The range of defences that De Gaulle had constructed were then expanded to protect the Benelux nations who feared a repeat of 1940 due to warlike rhetoric from the German Democratic Republic. De Gaulle’s Presidency is remembered for a degree of stagnancy, but this was perhaps what was needed after the turmoil of the Auriol governments. De Gaulle remained President until 1969; the 1968 protests had been too much for Gaullism to survive into the 1970’s and as a result De Gaulle’s brand of nostalgic politics was resigned to the sidelines. After a hectic attempt by Coty to govern without an election, which was declared unconstitutional after an appeal by the Socialist Party, Georges Pompidou won the General Election in 1972.
This Presidency was known as one of social liberation, France had missed out on the liberating zeal that other countries had enjoyed in the late 1960’s and Pompidou let the right re-invent itself as a force for change – Gaullist restrictions on the Communist Party were lifted and controversial laws that had kept the television and radio services under government control were also liberalised. His Presidency saw a dramatic modernisation of Paris, making it a desirable tourist destination for the modern European traveller. Under the Pompidou government several land-mark social laws were passed such as the legalisation of abortion and contraception – this brought France up to date with the rest of Europe.
The fall of Pompidou, the rise of the "New Left"Edit
In 1982 a series of scandals brought down the Pompidou government and François Mitterrand the leader of the Socialist Party became the first left-wing President since Auriol, along with his loyalist Prime Minister Laurent Fabius he built a coalition of the "plural left" and included three members of the Communist Party in order to govern - this shocked the right-wing elite and there was a move to remove him as President of the Republic by Pompidou through a legal challenge relying on the Gaullist anti-Communist laws. The minimum wage was increased by 10%, the famous 39 hour working day was also introduced, whilst struggling with inflation the policies of Mitterrand have paid off - the gap between rich and poor in France is continually closing due to his "solidarity tax". There was talk of out-lawing the death penalty due to pressure from other European nations yet the public reaction throughout France was one of disgust - the guillotine remains the form of termination for murder and treason.
The 1988 ElectionsEdit
Three weeks before the 1988 Presidential First Round Elections Mitterrand died of Cancer, which came as a shock to both his country and party as his illness had been kept secret from all but his wife; on Mitterrand’s death it became apparent that he had followed a sordid private life, as he had a Second Family! The Socialist Party had a short and bloody leadership battle between Mitterrand loyalist, Laurent Fabius, and a more pragmatist “New Left” approach of Jack Lang who eventually won the race to the Socialist Party’s Candidate. The public were however reluctant to support the Socialist Party after Mitterrand’s death and the harmful leadership battle had left the party on the verge of division and thusly they did not make it through to the Second Round. However attacks against the former President on behalf of the RPR Candidate, which caused great upset to Mitterrand’s widow, were seen as tasteless by the French electorate and Jacques Chirac also did not make it to the Second Round. As elections began it was the UDF that was favourite to become the new President as opinion polls saw him with a lead of 12% over his Socialist and RPR opponents yet a record low turn-out saw the Second Round as a run off between the French Communist Party and the National Front, it was summed by Raymond Barre in the following words “Today Democracy has been defeated, and our dear Republic lies in ruins”.
First Round Results 1988Edit
- André Lajoinie – French Communist Party – 27,8%
- Jean-Marie Le Pen – National Front – 25,3%
- Raymond Barre – Union for French Democracy – 24,7%
- Jack Lang – Socialist Party – 13,6%
- Jacques Chirac – Rally for the Republic – 8,6%
- Turnout – 62%
As the Second Round approached there was talk of the military taking power in the event of a Lajoinie victory, across France Lajoinie was viewed as a hard-line Marxist and he lacked any real public charisma, and was a man of very limited vision – in fact the only reason he made his way to the Second Round was due to Socialist voters showing their discontent towards the defeat of Mitterrand’s leftist camp within the PS. On the other side, Le Pen had been given the political opportunity of his life time and worked furiously on the campaign trail to present himself as a stable candidate of the moderate right, despite his personal convictions. As a result he was able to count on the voters of the RPR, some old Pétainists and a majority of UDF voters, although the clash of ideologies did bring out a slightly larger voter turn-out.
- Jean-Marie Le Pen – National Front – 57.1%
- André Lajoinie – French Communist Party – 42,8%
- Turnout 78%
French Legislative Elections 1988Edit
Legislative elections were held a month after the Presidential Elections and a swing to the right amongst French voters had emerged, in order to keep Le Pen in “check” voters gave the RPR a majority within Parliament under the “Union for Justice” which the FN was to join days before the Legislative election to avoid an early embarrassment for President Le Pen.
"Union for the Presidential Majority” – 308 Seats RPR – 113 Seats National Front – 89 Seats Union for French Democracy– 73 Seats National Republican Party – 33 Seats
"The United Left” – 267 Socialist Party – 129 French Communist Party – 127 Left Radical Party – 11
Interestingly these results would have given Le Pen a National Front Majority within Parliament if it were not for the creation of Bruno Megret’s “National Republican Party” which was created as a reaction from the French extreme-right over Le Pen “selling-out” of the movement during the Presidential election.