Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to announce the Sixth Republic

So the French culture magazine Les Inrockuptible (no link available) announced on its cover two weeks ago. A group of politicians, mostly on the left, feel that Chirac has pushed the strong executive system made by de Gaulle into a presidentialism that governs without listening to the parliament. In their opinions, reform is almost impossible: a new constitution, which gives more leadership to legislators, must be written.

The malaise is to be expected. People voted for Chirac in large numbers in 2002, but only to mount a national protest to Le Pen's candidacy. Ever since he has experienced defeat after defeat in elections, ignoring the growth of opposition to his overuse of the privileges of the presidency. Defeats in the regional and EU parliamentary elections put the breaks on many social reforms that he proposed.

Stubborn, Chirac tried to manufacture victory around the European Constitution; its failure was largely a commentary about popular frustration with Chirac. That same public was less than enthusiastic about the nomination of de Villepin as prime minister.

Domestic politics has been in a holding pattern for a while. Chirac has not gained support for the reduction of social benefits. The "non" vote weakened his ability to protect the social system.

The call for a new constitution have come from a group called Convention pour la VIe République, or C6R.
C6R works to reform public institutions which will guarantee an effective separation of the powers, executive, legislative and legal on the one hand, national and local capacities on the other hand, thus ensuring our fellow-citizens, by guarantees of deliberation the free exercise of their sovereignty. It militates infavorr of a significant increase in the civil rights enabling them to control the decisions taken on their behalf.
The group consists of prominent oppositional politicians, like socialist leader François Hollande and the irrepressible Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who said:
We must dilute the president's dimension as a political actor. The republic should strive for a new definition of parliamentary democracy. Separate the head of state from the head of government. The president should have a role in the moral plan of representing the values of the republic.
Strong executive power is in style, in France and in other countries, and it is not clear that Frenchmen will want change the powers of the presidency. They would rather wait for someone better -- minister of the interior Sarkozy in particular, whose star keeps rising despite a crisis in his marriage.

France : Politics

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