In 1950 terrorist attacks began in Tunisia, which was also interested in the problem of independence. France responded by sending Bourguiba into exile, claiming the office of a free state. This outraged the then Minister for European Affairs, F. Mitterand, who, not sharing this policy, resigned. In the same year the state of Germany also changed with respect to France, since a certain equality and therefore the alliance was achieved. According to Abbreviationfinder, a customs union was signed with Italy in June 1950 and in April 1951 the so-called “Schuman Plan” was launched, for the foundation of a European coal and steel pool.
Other difficulties in running the government arose with the move to opposition from the socialists. They, in fact, tenacious advocates of secularism, did not share the Barangè law, approved in November 1951, with which subsidies were assigned to all primary schools, including Catholic ones. RJ Pleven, in charge of forming the new government, had to seek the support of the moderates. But this coalition did not prove to be sufficient to deliberate all those measures that were imposed, due to the precarious situation of the moment. And certainly without the aid of the United States, of which France was the main beneficiary, the government would have had to declare a bankruptcy state. In January 1952 the Pleven government fell on the insurmountable difficulty that constituted the approval of the state budget.
After other governments and other resignations, in 1953 there was a profound crisis that led to a decisive shift of politics to the right. The independent J. Laniel was called to lead the new coalition government, who managed to remain in office for almost a year.
De Gaulle, embittered by so many contradictions, retired once again to private life and the “Gaullist” movement ended up together with the power of its founder.
The rebellions and the falls in Asia and Africa had repercussions on the Laniel government, which fell on June 12, 1954. Mendes-France was called to form the new one. He moved the line to the center-left and received enthusiastic support from public opinion and even managed to put an end to the war in Indochina, which had besieged France for eight years. Then Mendes-France went to Tunisia to elaborate the modalities of granting independence and here he encountered various obstacles from the French colonists and nationalists; obstacles that swelled more and more until Mendes-France was forced to resign. It was February 15, 1955.
On January 2, 1956 there were early elections and Faure, radical, was called to form the new government. Other governments and other difficulties alternated tirelessly and when in May 1958 it seemed evident that France had reached the threshold of a civil war, General De Gaulle was recalled, who prepared to exercise his power again with the formation of a ” National Ministry “, and on June 2, 1958 the Parliament passed three important laws which provided for:
– special powers in the Algerian question (which asked for autonomy);
– full powers for six months, without any opposition whatsoever;
– revision of the Constitution and approval of the same by referendum.
The work began and on September 28 there were the results of the referendum, with which they asked: an organization of public powers for a presidential regime, a Parliament with reduced powers and functions and a free community between France and the overseas territories. It was a great success for De Gaulle who continued in his work of transforming French politics. And on January 8, 1959 there was the transfer of the powers of Head of State from Renè Coty to the general.
But the economic situation was not improved due to the constantly increasing cost of living, which did not favor the increase in industrial production, and at the end of 1959, especially in the countryside, discontent began to spread.
Meanwhile, De Gaulle began to claim the rights of France to a state of equality with Great Britain and the United States, in accordance with his opinion of the “grandeur” of France, not so much shared by Eisenhower, then American president.
Then he established extensive contacts with the German premier Adenauer and with the Soviet prime minister Khrushchev, with whom he met more than once in Paris. In short, he wanted leadership in the European Community, while he refused the creation of missile and nuclear weapons deposits on French soil. In November 1960 he proposed the creation of an “Algerian Republic”, to be decided by self-determination. And in the meantime, acts of terrorism, rebellions, “scorched earth” policy and so on, gave ample help to a resurgence of the war in Algeria.
It came to the first of July 1962 with the Algerians who were finally able to go to the polls. Two days later France officially recognized Algeria’s independence. Ben Bella was appointed head of government and the Democratic People’s Republic of Algeria was admitted to the United Nations.
On August 22, 1962, De Gaulle was attacked in Petit-Clamart and this event was seen as an opportunity to discuss the election of the President of the Republic. De Gaulle proposed universal suffrage, which was approved by the referendum of 28 October 1962. The legislative elections, held on 18/25 November the same year, were a triumph for De Gaulle, who always had as a mandatory objective that of giving France a position of greatness, as was agreed, by refusing subordination to the United States. An important point for him was to demonstrate that France was able on its own to provide for its military defense. And therefore it was necessary to take particular care of nuclear weapons and with this tended to be able to organize a refusal to participate in the signing of the Moscow Treaty, which instead provided for the ban on nuclear tests. All this, in his understanding, was to downsize the importance of the two world superpowers, to the advantage of a great Europe, but not federalist, but “of the homelands”, made by a confederation of sovereign states. And to do this, Europe necessarily had to free itself from the protection of the United States and, therefore, the project of the then American President Kennedy of a Europe within the Atlantic bond was certainly to be rejected. Furthermore, from this Europe he excluded Great Britain and in fact he worked with all his might against the British entry into the European Common Market because, on his consideration, London was certainly the means by which the United States would manipulate European affairs.
After that he strengthened relations with Germany, always with the intent to pursue this goal, but in the meantime Adenauer had been replaced in October 1963 by Erhard, who did not share his point of view, not considering it useful for Germany sacrifice aid, of all kinds, coming essentially from the United States.
The presidential elections of 1965 saw the reconfirmation of De Gaulle who, in March 1966, decided to leave France from NATO; then publicly declared himself against the American intervention in Vietnam; condemned Israel regarding the “six-day war”; he constantly endeavored to recognize the activity of the French speakers of Quebec, Canada.
The March 1967 elections were a success for the Gaullists in the first round but not the second. This decreed the victory of the leftists.
Student demonstrations began in January 1968, followed in all areas of public and trade union life; strikes and unrest convinced De Gaulle to hold a referendum for his or her stay in the Elysée. But a few days later he returned to his decisions: he declared that he would not withdraw, that he would not promote the referendum and that instead he would dissolve the National Assembly.
On June 23, 1968 the first round of the new elections took place and since the Gaullists immediately reached the majority, the second round was not necessary. The head of government which had long been Pompidou was replaced by Couve de Murville, former Foreign Minister. Faure was given the task of reforming the university; and in fact in a short time he managed to pass a law that would bring about the necessary reforms.
Then Pompidou, in January 1969, declared that he wanted to apply for the Elysée. On April 27 the French went to the polls and on April 28 the era of De Gaulle ended definitively.
The June presidential election awarded the majority to Pompidou. Chaban-Delmas was the prime minister, the Finance and Economy Department went to Giscard d’Estaing, and other government officials were Pleven, Duhamel and Fontanet. The devaluation of the franc was decided in the following August.
In October 1972, in a meeting held in Paris between European heads of state, the veto was abolished on the entry of Great Britain into the European Community. In the meantime, ties with the Soviet Union were strengthened and ties with the United States were broken when, during the Arab-Israeli conflict, Pompidou took a clear stand in favor of the Arabs.
When Pompidou died on April 2, 1974, the candidacy of F. Mitterand, head of the Socialist Party, revived; Chaban-Delmas and Giscard d’Estaing also applied. The first round of 5 May saw Mitterand prevail, but the 19 ballot entrusted the majority to Giscard d’Estaing, who then became President of the Republic.
And immediately the political struggle began which was to lead to a gradual breakdown of the majority and an advance of the leftists. Former Prime Minister Jacques Chirac resigned from the government, opposing Giscard d’Estaing and aiming for the Paris City Hall. The municipal elections of March 1977 assigned success to the leftists. On 12/19 March 1978 with the new elections he won the government coalition, chaired by R. Barre. Mitterand won the presidential election on May 10, 1981 and the socialist Fr Mauroy was appointed prime minister. Throughout the 1980s, efforts were made to rearrange the economy by fighting inflation. The sector which most of all fought for the low remuneration of the products was the agricultural one, and in particular the Breton one. The protest was violent; French farmers opposed Community economic policy in every way. And in this tussle, and behind the continued work of the oppositions, the latest national political elections assigned success to the far-right party.
An important position was taken by the Giscardians and the Gaullists when the allocation of subsidies to private schools was discussed. On June 17, 1984, a massive demonstration of over a million people convinced Prime Minister Mauroy to withdraw the proposal. After that he resigned and Mitterand appointed a new socialist-led government headed by Laurent Fabius, former Minister of Industry.
The political elections of March 1986 brought center-right forces back to power. Fabius resigned and Chirac was called to form the new government, resulting in a strange “cohabitation” with the socialist president Mitterand who, however, reserved the right of veto on foreign policy issues.
The government program included, among other things, the liberalization of the economy and a close fight against all types of terrorism: that of Corsica’s independence, that of the extreme left of the French group “Action directe” and the Islamic one of Middle Eastern origin.
For the economic program to be pursued three were the fundamental points: the first involved the privatization of 65 large nationalized companies; the second the privatization of the first television channel and the third the flexibility of working hours. Then more comprehensive border security measures were adopted so as not to allow uncontrolled entry to non-EU citizens.
In September 1986, student dissent towards university reform exploded violently, followed by a very long strike in the transport sector that lasted from December 1986 until mid-January 1987.
In foreign policy, France regulated itself according to tradition except for a crisis in July 1987 with Iran which had refused to hand over to Chirac a terrorist who had taken refuge in the Paris Embassy.
It was evident on other occasions that the “cohabitation” could not be maintained further and in fact a crisis came. In the spring of 1988 presidential elections were held and Mitterand was re-elected. Chirac resigned and M. Rocard became premier of a government made up of socialists and leftist radicals. This proved to be very unstable and in June we returned to early elections which awarded the highest number of votes to the center-right. Rocard was again commissioned to form the government, which was made up of socialists, independent and moderate center. It was a stable government that could profitably engage in various renovations, not just politics.
In the spring of 1991 some elements of crisis were noticed, Mitterand appointed Prime Minister E. Cresson who immediately took care to strengthen the currency, to cut public spending but above all revised immigration laws, due to unrest that occurred in the mainly inhabited urban suburbs from North Africa.
In January 1992 the change from P. Mauroy to L. Fabius took place at the top of the Socialist Party. The March elections registered a step back from the Socialist Party and Cresson gave way to Beregovoy. In September 1992 a popular referendum ratified the Maastricht Treaty with a result favorable to the European Union.
The March 1993 legislative elections saw the collapse of the socialist party and the advance of the center-right. The new premier was the Gaullist E. Balladour. But this new government was unable to control neither the internal trend nor the development of international politics. So in April-May 1995 we went to the new presidential elections and Chirac was the new President of the Republic. Alan Juppè was the Prime Minister. He immediately implemented a system of severe cuts in spending on social services, pensions and public sector wages. This caused serious discontent in a large part of the electorate, which manifested and went on strike making government work impossible until the end of 1996.
Chirac and Juppè were heavily engaged in such controversies until 1997. Intanti Chirac had announced the resumption of nuclear tests in the atolls of Mururoa and Fangataufa, which had not been allowed by Mitterand. And unlike these, which had privileged Europeanism, Chirac wanted to try again the policy of the “grandeur”, already started by De Gaulle, to reaffirm the primary role of France in the continent. And this is also due to the strong pressure that Germany was now exerting, which has become powerful both politically and economically.
Then Chirac wanted to reaffirm the preponderance of France also in Africa with which, in Morocco, Gabon, the Ivory Coast and Senegal, he engaged in economic and cultural aid. And also, noting the shaky situation of the ruling coalition, dissolved the National Assembly and called early political elections for May-June 1997.
In the meantime, the Socialist Party had come to reconstitute under the careful guidance of Lionel Jospin. He proposed a social democratic line, with the redistribution of income, the reduction of working hours to 35 hours per week, the fight against social inequality, the creation of jobs for young people, and the reduction of tax privileges for businesses and incomes from capital.
And with this program he won the election. With the union of the socialists, communists, center moderates and radicals, he formed the government. A new “cohabitation” took place between the center-right President of the Republic and a socialist prime minister.
As we progressed, however, the economic difficulties increased; as well as the unrest due to North African immigrants, as well as unemployment and discontent in every sector of work and social life.
In October 1998 Jospin had to face an important demonstration of students who were clamoring for reform in the cultural field and related structures, both of things and of people.
As far as immigrants were concerned, an agreement was reached in this sense: since the countries of origin required specialized workforce for their territory, France undertook at its own expense to support preparation courses and training contracts for all those who accepted, once enabled, to go back to work in their home.
Despite the various contrasts between politics and the judiciary, Jospin saw his government’s line confirmed and also in June 1999, with the European elections, the government coalition obtained an important affirmation, which is unique among all the center-left governments of all NATO countries.