French Governmental Crisis

November 7, 1962

Report Outline
De Gaulle's Showdown With Parliament
Causes of French Political Instability
Record of De Gaulle and Fifth Republic

De Gaulle's Showdown With Parliament

Popular approval of an amendment to the French Constitution, in a nation-wide referendum on October 28, gave President Charles de Gaulle a crucial though hardly spectacular victory in the bitter struggle he has been waging with the French Parliament. The amendment provides for election of future presidents of France directly by the people instead of indirectly, as at present, by an 80,000-member electoral college. A more important test awaits de Gaulle on the third and fourth Sundays of November, when the voters will go to the polls again to elect a new National Assembly.

Election of a pro-Gaullist majority would be expected to lead to drastic reorganization of the existing political party structure in France. Election of a large anti-Gaullist majority probably would cause de Gaulle to resign. A result between these extremes—in other words, election of a National Assembly in which supporters and opponents of de Gaulle were more or less evenly divided—would confront the President with a difficult choice. He would have the option of resigning, of continuing the struggle with Parliament, or of coming to terms with his political adversaries. Although the last course would seem the wisest, it is made unlikely by de Gaulle's openly stated contempt for politicians, whom he blames for “those sterile games of the past.”

The referendum results do not necessarily portend a comparable outcome in the polling for the National Assembly. The 62 per cent “yes” vote on the constitutional amendment was given by only 46 per cent of the registered voters—a considerably smaller proportion than that supporting-de Gaulle in previous refer end urns. The Cuban crisis, which erupted in the final week of the referendum campaign, probably helped the President, His opponents had conceded that a desire for strong leadership in time of international peril would persuade many undecided French voters to cast their ballots for the constitutional amendment. Thus the true measure of support for de Gaulle may have been lower than appeared.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Feb. 14, 1973  French Elections, 1973
Apr. 10, 1968  French-American Relations
Nov. 24, 1965  Election of De Gaulle: Past and Future Policies
Nov. 20, 1963  French Policy Under De Gaulle
Feb. 20, 1963  France and the Alliance
Nov. 07, 1962  French Governmental Crisis
Mar. 10, 1960  Status of France
Sep. 15, 1955  Future of France in North Africa
Dec. 16, 1953  French Political Instability
Nov. 15, 1952  France and Germany in West European Defense
Jan. 29, 1947  Empire of France
Sep. 01, 1945  France in Transition
Aug. 08, 1944  Relations with France
Mar. 21, 1942  Relations with France
Apr. 10, 1934  Constitutional Reform in France
Jun. 30, 1929  The French Debt and the Young Plan
Apr. 27, 1928  The Briand-Kellogg Correspondence
Mar. 30, 1928  French National Elections - 1928
Aug. 24, 1926  French Currency and Exchange
Jun. 30, 1925  The Moroccan Problem
Jun. 17, 1925  The French Debt to the United States
Apr. 11, 1925  The French Financial Problem
May 07, 1924  The French National Elections
Sep. 21, 1923  French Reparation Policy in the Light of the Dariac Report
Regional Political Affairs: Europe