Riccardo Brizzi

The origins of the French semi-presidentialism. Debré, general de Gaulle and the Fifth Republic's Constitution

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Keywords: France Fifth Republic - Constitutional history - Michel Debré

Based on archival sources only recently made accessible, such as the Michel Debré records, the article focuses on the critical phase of the Fifth Republic's institutional strengthening between 1958 and 1962. The author argues that the new French Constitution brought about several uncertainties in the new institutional and political framework (not yet defined as a semi-presidential one), and, above all, the uncertain division of power between the president of the Council of ministers and the president of the Republic. The author offers a detailed reconstruction of the progressive assertion of the chief of state in the context of the Fifth Republic's institutional framework. The essay clearly shows how the progressive "presidentialization" of the French political system during the dramatic Algerian crisis resulted much more from the personal relation between Charles de Gaulle and Michel Debré than from a decidedly ambigous constitutional wording.

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