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Political history of France 1958-2022


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35 minutes ago, Edouard said:

I thought interesting, ahead of 2022 to make a short résumé of the political history of France for those who might be interested about where things come up and how they ended where they are today

Some here are big fans of Pompidou but maybe that a shortcut is needed 😄

There are more images than texts

1st part : De Gaulle's years 1958-1969

January 21st 1946, General De Gaulle who leads the provisionary government after the liberation of France resigns


The reason is that he disagrees with the strong parliamentarism of the 4th Republic which has a full proportionnal voting system and unstable governments

1958, it happens that Algeria is going to take its independence. France is bogged down in this war since more than 4 years and violent means are deployed on both sides

Several french generals in Alger make a coup and take control of Algeria. The French republic does not sweat, but some days later paratroopers land on the island of Corsica and take control of the island after Algeria.

Politicians in Paris really fear a military coup, and then decide to call back De Gaulle who has the military autority to prevent such kind of events

De Gaulle comes back

Le général de Gaulle, premier président de la Ve République, présenté aux  enfants

On the paper several of rebel generals called him to make sure that Algeria remains a french department, and initially De Gaulle will give the impression that he supports them.

But on the paper what really interest De Gaulle is to take down the 4th Republic at the benefit of the 5th. A new republic less parliamentarian and more equal between the executive and the legislative.

He then gets the vote of the full powers to create his Constitution but under the control of the legislative branch which is not particulary friendly to his political views

A referendum campaign follows to ratify the new Constitution

La Ve République 60 ans : Quels changements ? | Sciences Po CEVIPOF

The Constitution of the new 5th Republic is largely approved in 1958 by popular referendum (despite left-wing opposition) and De Gaulle is elected by the french national assembly and the senate, president of France.

In the meantime De Gaulle goes to Algeria and give an ambiguous message to french of Algeria saying "I UNDERSTOOD YOU !" but 3 years later he will negotiate the referendum on the independence of Algeria, which will push 1 million of french living in Algeria since 150 years to come back to France, particulary on the Provence coast where they will forge later the base of the vote for the National Front.

By 1962 and this is an event which is not known, De Gaulle proposes that the president of France be once again elected by the French people and no longer the parliament, an MP (older by now) named Paul Reynaud is full against that and proposes the dissolution of De Gaulle's Prime Minister Georges Pompidou. Who is Paul Reynaud? He was the last president of the french government of the IIIrd Republic in 1940, who resigned during the german invasion, someone who opposed Pétain's views of surrender (even if this later succedded him). 

The reason of such a strong opposition to a popular election of the president is because the only time it has been tried, in 1848, an emperor had later came out of it (Napoléon III was president of France prior to make a coup).

De Gaulle replicates with a referendum on the issue of electing the president and a legislative election, he wins both quite largely.

60s are then dominated by De Gaulle's decisions in France.

-Nuclearization of France

-High expenses into the military budget up to 25% of the GDP

-Neutral international position (France gets out of NATO)

-Some social reforms (Pills to abort in 1966)

In 1967 he will pronounce the famous words "LONG LIVE FREE QUEBEC"

de Gaulle Vive Le Québec Libre IMAGES en COULEURS INÉDITES - YouTube

In front of a massive crowd of something like 100 000 quebecers gathered and the video record shows how this has turned into one of the major events of Quebec history 

But in 1965 some limits to his popularity begin to happear

De Gaulle expected to win the 1965 presidential election in a single round, but it did not happened

Instead, the election ended to a competitive runoff even if he did pretty well

French presidential election of 1965 [OC][1500x750] : r/MapPorn

The one opposing him was the socialist minister of the 4th Republic, François Mitterrand.

He wins the runoff with 56% of the vote, but some cracs begin to happen

On the European Community (not yet Union), De Gaulle strongly favors that the EC budget serves agricultors first, and refuses to participate to EC summits where the UK membership would be proposed.

The French president considers that an UK entrance inside the European Community would automatically lead to a kind of USA "Troy horse" and that the UK could never accept to work with a continental partnership for a long time. They would kind of automatically jeopardize the european unity.

By 1968 a major student strike happens

1968 – året då allting hände | Popularhistoria.se

Started from Parisian universities such as the Sorbonne but also Nanterre, several students (and their leaders) challenge a french government which for them has become too "old" and unfit to govern a new rising society which differs from their traditions.

This massive student strike led by people such as Daniel Com Bendit is later joined by parties and labor unions.

De Gaulle who is in germany for a visit at that time wonders what to do.

At this moment, De Gaulle's Prime Minister Georges Pompidou begin negotiating with instances

The agreement that Pompidou will find will later be known as Grenelle's agreements.

-The minimum wage is raised by 35%

-Local labor unions chambers inside enterprise is now authorized

De Gaulle kind of sanctions Pompidou's efficacity by firing him as Prime Minister of France and replaces him with Maurice Couve de Murville


Maurice Couve de Murville is rather saw as someone who will not "overshade" the president's actions.

In the meantime President De Gaulle repeats what he did in 1962, he dissolves parliament and calls legislative elections to show who has the support of the french electorate, and once again, he wins largely 

Élections législatives françaises de 1968 — Wikipédia

De Gaulle had the way to always say that when he put a referendum, he considered that his name was on the ballot, and that if a referendum would fail, then he would leave the presidency.

In 1969 he called a referendum on the reform of Regions and the Senate.

Basically from now, regions of France would be created (based on old duchy or royal provinces boundaries for most of these) and the Senate would be reformed to introduce more people from the civil society instead of only elected officials by mayors and MPs.

The Senate reform is strongly challenged even in his own side by senators who do not want to lose their terms and who then campaign against it.

This referendum, De Gaulle narrowly loses it.

On April 28th 1969, he resigns.

27-28/04/1969 : Echec du référendum sur la réforme du Sénat et la  régionalisation – démission du général de Gaulle - Fondation Charles de  Gaulle


Really awesome read, French politics is something I need to continue to educate myself on, European politics are very interesting, and of course very different from U.S. Thanks 😄 

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11 hours ago, Edouard said:

1995, Chirac forms his new government

The most loyal of the loyals of Jacques Chirac, Alain Juppé becomes Prime Minister

Grève à la SNCF : et en 1995, comment Alain Juppé avait-il vendu sa réforme  ? | LCI

Nicolas Sarkozy is fired of government because of his support for Edouard Balladur

The new governement is pretty Center-right, they assumed to take a green as environmental cabinet secretary.

A very close network of Jacques Chirac now governs France. Alain Juppé's first concern is about the retirement age

By 1995 Alain Juppé presents a vast plan to cut Social Security's deficit :

He thinks about extending contribution (for retirement) period from 37.5 to 40 annuities for civil service employees, a measure already decided for workers in the private sector during the Balladur pension reform of 1993.
The establishment of an annual Social Security law which sets the objectives for the progression of health expenses and envisages the establishment of sanctions for doctors who exceed this objective.
An increase in hospital access fees and restrictions on reimbursable drugs.
The blocking and taxation of family allowances paid to families, combined with the increase in health contributions for retirees and the unemployed.

Those reforms have one goal, save the Social Security deficit

But these measures enrage workers who go on the street to strike, and in numbers

Up to 2 millions of people go on the street to strike

Grève du 5 décembre : Pourquoi la mobilisation qui s'annonce semble  différente de celle de 1995

Some known sociologs like Bourdieu bring their support to strikers.

By december 1995, the government of Alain Juppé backs down on most points of its reforms, strikers have won.

Juppé's popularity severely declines after this episod, but Jacques Chirac in love with his Prime Minister and uttmost loyal friend maintains his confidence in him.

By the 5th of December France joins once again NATO that De Gaulle left in 1966.


In january former President Mitterrand dies of cancer few months after leaving the Elysée, Chirac gives him a vibrant tribute

Jacques Chirac announces that the compulsory military service will be abandoned

Some minor economic reforms also happen by this time but not so much

Which creates a result. By 1997 Jacques Chirac and his government are confronted to a severe reality.

The french president has not dissolved parliament when he became president in 1995 and kept the assembly from 1993. Which makes sure that the next legislative election will happen in 1998 (while the presidential term is still of 7 years and so last to 2002).

However the french deficit is too high by 1997 and does not respect budget rules of the European Union. The EU is clear, 3% of deficit maximum. Reason commands the french government to do an austerity plan for 1997 in order to respect budget's rules, but if they do that, there is the risk to get a crual defeat in the next legislative election in 1998 and then a cohabitation with a Socialist Prime Minister and a socialist government.

That's why Jacques Chirac consults his friends and decides to dissolve parliament in 1997. Opinion polls are good, the Right-wing, according to opinion polls, is not going win a huge majority like in 1993 but they should hold a majority for five more years, it is exactly what Jacques Chirac needs in order to keep his government up to the next presidential election of 2002.

Legislative election is then called one year before its normal end.

Jacques Chirac announces that he dissolves parliament in a TV allocution and calls elections by april 1997

Jacques Chirac "J'ai décidé de dissoudre l'Assemblée Nationale" | INA

Lionel Jospin (leader of the Socialist party, the guy who opposed him in the presidential runoff of 1995) directly jumps on TV and says : The president has 3 reasons to call for an election, either it is because cuts are expected and then it's to make french votes before to do cuts, or because a tough social reform is in preparation and then once again they prefer to make french vote before to do that, or a third option is that there are scandals which could be published soon about the government, and still there, another reason to make french vote in anticipation.

Then, Socialist leader Lionel Jospin manages to get agreements with Greens, Communists and apparented socialists on a common left-wing coalition to take down the government of Jacques Chirac.

Polls remain good, but then the first round arrives

United Left : 46%

Right-Wing coalition (RPR UDF) : 37%

National Front : 15%

It is a disaster, the setback is huge.

Giscard d'Estaing and others leaders of the UDF the center-right allied partner of the RPR call Chirac to fire Alain Juppé as Prime Minister.

The next day Alain Juppé announces that he won't remain as Prime Minister if the Right-Wing is re-elected in parliament.

The move is an attempt to save a predicted defeat

Then comes the runoff and a new majority for France

Fichier:Assemblée nationale XIe législature.png — Wikipédia

Socialists alone do not have a majority but together Left forces are about more than 300 seats which is more than an absolute majority.

Socialists Greens and Communists have been allies in election, they will be allies in government.

Lionel Jospin more than happy of his unpredicted victory becomes Prime Minister of France at the head of a left-wing coalition

Lionel Jospin Premier ministre - Lumni | Enseignement

The socialist leader has a massive plan for France, he forms a new government.

Jacques Chirac, who had been a right-wing prime minister of a socialist president, is now confronted with a Socialist Prime Minister and government in his own term.

The new Socialist government has five years to put their plans into action, and it will turn out to be one of the most successfull socialist governments France ever had.

On the economy, Dominique Strauss Kahn as minister of France leads France to an annual 4% economic growth and thus each year, the debt falls back for the first time in decades and unemployment goes down to one of its lowest rates in recent years. Some public sectors are opened to the concurrence but not privatized.

On society, the socialist government passes a bill to allow same sex partnership (not wedding, partnership). The bill is strongly criticized by the Right-wing coalition and only one MP of the Right-Wing dares to stand in front of all of her colleagues to vote for the bill in the opposition side, Roselyne Bachelot. Of course the bill passes because the left is united on it.

On labor reforms the socialist government reduces weekly hours of work from 39 to 35h. The goal for the left-wing is to create jobs thanks to this measure and allows greater time for families by reducing hours of work.

On education secretary Jean Luc Mélenchon creates the professionnal cursus to allows those who don't want to go to the university to take a professionnal formation in the highschool and get a degree out of it. The professionnal orientation will turn out to be working.

The socialist government is working and a great portion of french are satisfied with their actions.

In 1998 France wins the world cup for the first time of its history. Jacques Chirac knows barely nothing to football contrary to Lionel Jospin who's a great fan of it. But, a paradox will happen.

Les milles vies de Jacques Chirac

The executive couple celebrate the world cup trophy together, but the event ironically favorizes Jacques Chirac, not Lionel Jospin. Jacques Chirac, who knows very few things to football but showed a very high enthusiasm for the event jumps massively in popularity while it moderately benefits Lionel Jospin, who even if he loves football has showed more moderacy in his expression.

In 2000 parity is also voted by the socialist government to give a greater chances to women to get into politic. Another important change is also voted this year. Lionel Jospin and former center-right president Giscard d'Estaing (who is now MP in the national assembly) ally together in order to pass a constitutionnal reform in order that, from now, the presidential term be reduced to 5 years in order to match the term of the legislative election. During the presidential debate of 1995, socialist Lionel Jospin advocated to align presidential elections on legislative terms in order that a president be elected for 5 years (instead of 7) which was too long, and also gets a parliament of his own color for those five years and to end with weird cohabitations of a president from a party and a Prime Minister from another.

With this change, the next president who will be elected in 2002 will be elected for 5 years, not 7 like in 1995, and as Chirac dissolved the national assembly in 1997, the legislative election will now match and follow the presidential election each time.

In 2001 a law is voted on improving financial expenses and another put into light an MP from Guyane. Member of parliament Christiane Taubira, formerly an independentist (or close of) and who is in the left-wing majority put a law to recognize that slavery was a crime against humanity. French parliament votes it and the law is ratified.

This law bring the woman in front of the public attention.

Not everything is perfect of course, Lionel Jospin is confronted with relocations of enterprises out of France and admits that the french government can't do everything. His overall action remains fairly positive in the eyes of a very important part of the french people.

Comes the presidential election of 2002 :

Jacques Chirac runs for re-election for the RPR

François Bayrou is proposed by the UDF and accepts

Lionel Jospin will run for socialists

Jean Marie le Pen will run with his far-right party the National Front.


The issue is that the Left has filled a lot of candidates to challenge Prime Minister Lionel Jospin :

Christiane Taubira the MP of the famous law on slavery from 2001 runs as presidential candidate as an alternative left

Greens put Noël Mamère (a former TV presentator and environmental activist) as candidate

Jean Pierre Chevènement a kind of left-wing sovereignist and former minister of the left-wing coalition runs as candidate too

Arlette Laguiller a far-left candidate runs aswell with important numbers.


The number of left-wing candidates and their importance is pretty worrying for some left-wing strategists, but Prime Minister Lionel Jospin is confident.

Polls and even the press don't care about the 1st round and almost focus on the runoff, they suggest that the runoff between Chirac and Jospin will be very close


Chirac and Jospin are in a close range and both focus on the runoff

Some days before the actual 1st round a journalist dares to asks to Prime Minister Jospin : "Imagine just one minute, mister Prime Minister, mister candidate, that you don't be on the runoff, for who would you vote for?"

Lionel Jospin laughs and replies : I have a normal imagination, but tempered by reason, so we can go to the next question then

This is the actual footage of the socialist candidate

294 Un certain 21 avril 2002: Jospin-Le Pen - Vidéo Dailymotion

Comes the day of voting, 21st april 2002

Jacques Chirac votes in his fief of Corrèze

Lionel Jospin in his town of Sainte Gabelle

4 PM

Everything is normal, a first private exit polls indicts that the runoff should be between Jacques Chirac and Lionel Jospin


6 PM

A doubt rises

6 : 30 PM

The doubt is confirmed

7 PM 

Journalists and parties HQ learn news of last details (still everything in private)

7 : 30 PM

Journalists on TV try to not spoil

8 PM

Le 21 avril 2002, si près, si loin : en 2017, le FN au second tour, ce  n'est plus un séisme - Le Parisien

Jacques Chirac is ahead, but Jean Marie le Pen and the far-right are qualified for the runoff with 17% of the vote

Socialist Lionel Jospin comes third and very close

21 avril 2002 | Le Pen qualifié, Jospin : l'impensable s'est produit - Le  Soir

Lionel Jospin goes to his HQ where he says that he assumes the responsability of this result and decides to withdraw from political life after the end of the presidential election


I let you the video to hear the screams in the assistance

The shockwave is real.

Jacques Chirac in his speech does not celebrates, but strongly condemn Jean Marie le Pen


He announces that he will not debate with the far-right leader, considering that this one does not play with democratic rules.

The presidential debate will then not happen

The left-wing and right-wing press reacts with high emotions to the results

La Une de la presse française après le choc du 21 avril 2002

Présidentielle. Le Pen au second tour : ce qui a changé en quinze ans

All candidates from Stroskistes to Gaullists call to vote for Jacques Chirac

Massive manifestations erupt between the runoff against the qualification of the far-right for the runoff

Le 1er mai 2002, plus d'un million de personnes défilaient pour dire «non»  au FN - Le Parisien

Up to 1 million french go to the streets

The runoff result is more than clear


Jacques Chirac wins re-election with the score of almost a dictator

The legislative election is going to happen a month later but the next government will be marked by the shockwave of the 2002 far-right qualification to the runoff.

There are certain similarities between this election and the 1991 Lousiana Gubernatorial Election...

Edited by Timur
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10 hours ago, Edouard said:

Valérie Pécresse is a high fiscally conservative woman, who seems more focus on the economy than another topic, she blames Macron for spending too much

Would she be a Rockefeller-Republican type in the US?

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5 hours ago, Timur said:

Would she be a Rockefeller-Republican type in the US?

Yes it is this kind of things !

She initially voted against Same sex marriage in 2013 (when Edouard Philippe or Bruno le Maire abstained) but since 2015 she says that she changed her opinion on the issue and on her list for regional elections in Paris surrounds himself with moderates including some who backed the bill

More recently she even said that she would have voted for the right of medical help to procreation for Lesbian couples (a thing that I have not included above but which is a progressive societal reform of Macron's government in contrast with the labor code reform)

As regional president of Ile-de-France (Paris and around) she has put a great focus on the economy (and somewhat another on secularism) but during Les Républicains' caucus debates she was the clearest on economic topics saying how she would make economies by reforming retirement age and social security or scrapping 150 000 civil offices.

On immigration she wants to copy the french system on the US/Canadian system of quotas.

Her favorite expression to attack Macron is that "he (Macron) would have burned down the cash register" with covid deficits so it sounds like that she "prefers" to talk about the economy and welfare reforms than any other topic (even if it's sure that she will endorse several security proposals of Ciotti and maybe some social ones of Bertrand)

Edited by Edouard
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January 2022

The left-wing division goes on

Christiane Taubira confirms that she will submit her candidacy to the united primary of the left in the end of january

Christiane Taubira annonce qu'elle se soumettra au résultat de la Primaire  populaire

At least 110 000 persons are currently registered to vote to this primary

Yesterday Anne Hidalgo (socialist) confirmed that she will not submit her candidacy to this primary vote.

Présidentielle 2022 : Anne Hidalgo prête à renoncer à sa candidature ?  Cette étonnante décision : Femme Actuelle Le MAG

Yannick Jadot (Greens) and Jean Luc Mélenchon (Insoumis) also confirmed that they will not participate to this unity primary of the left

Présidentielle 2022: entre Jadot et Mélenchon, un poker menteur  gagnant-gagnant - l'Opinion

That means that the french left-wing will likely come disorganized and desunited in the next presidential election if things remain as they are right now for the next 3 weeks EXCEPTED IF there is a major change

On the other side of the political spectrum Guillaume Pelletier the former n°2 of Les Républicains leaves his party to endorse Eric Zemmour

Loir-et-Cher. Le domicile de Guillaume Peltier perquisitionné -  Neung-sur-Beuvron (41210)

However it is worth mentionning that he was previously sanctionned of his leadership position by the party due to his sympathy for Eric Zemmour

What do polls says?


Sondage 2022 : Mélenchon aux portes du second tour - L'insoumission

Opinion polls now predict that it's an epic battle for the runoff qualification between Pécresse Le Pen and Zemmour, however most pollsters for now do think that Zemmour polls lower than that 



Edited by Edouard
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