De Gaulle and the Founding of the Fifth Republic

Douglas Johnson asks what political or military intrigues lay behind the sudden recall to power, twenty-five years ago this month, of Charles de Gaulle, the wartime leader of the Free French.

It was on June 1st, 1958, that General de Gaulle announced the names of the government which he intended to form and appeared before the National Assembly asking that this government should receive its approval. The next day there was a debate in which his government asked for full legislative powers over a period of six months and for the powers to amend the Constitution (on certain, specified conditions). All votes were successful and on June 3rd, 1958, the Journal Officiel announced that Charles de Gaulle had been appointed President du Conseil, or Prime Minister, replacing Pierre Pflimlin. The Fourth Republic theoretically continued and General de Gaulle had acceded to power legally and consitutionally. But everyone knew that this represented the end of the Fourth Republic, the regime which had come into force in France after the Liberation in 1944.

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