The Control of Governments

  • Françoise Dreyfus


The 1958 constitution, by introducing what has been called ‘rationalised parliamentarianism’, substantially modified the relationships which existed during the Third and Fourth Republics between the Executive and legislature by reinforcing the former to the detriment of the latter. A desire to endow France with a style of government which would free it from the stranglehold of the parties and make it capable of restoring the power of the state inspired the provisions laid down in the constitution. Even though the Fifth Republic is a parliamentary system, in which the government is collectively responsible to the National Assembly, the conditions for moving a censure motion are severe enough to inhibit an ‘excessive’ use of this procedure. De Gaulle’s distrust of Parliament was expressed not only by a reduction of the National Assembly’s powers of political control, but also by limiting the legislative competence of Parliament and the creation of a Constitutional Council to ensure that the laws made by Parliament conformed to the constitution. These innovations were initially criticised by the Left-wing parties which considered them to be a manifestation of the anti-parliamentarianism characteristic of the French authoritarian Right.


Prime Minister Political Control Legal Control Minority Government Private Prison 
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© Françoise Dreyfus 1990

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  • Françoise Dreyfus

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