The French Fifth Republic Presidency has emerged as one of the most powerful executives in western society. This book is a study of how the power of the Presidency was created and maintained. It investigates the political skills of the office holders and the way in which the coalition supporting the Presidency has been brought together and sustained (and how it has been, on occasion, lost). The book's analysis of leadership in the Fifth Republic draws out the skills and manipulation of the successive presidents as well as the resources of the cultural and political contexts. Amongst the topics considered as part of the presidential system are the Constitutions, the referendum, foreign policy, Europe, May'68, Giscard d'Estaing's centrist septennate, 'cohabitation' and neo-gaullism. These issues are treated as crucial elements in Presidential power and help to illustrate the foundations of Presidential authority. The main contention is that the presidency has been created and sustained by political acts of a high order which have involved the mobilization of certain symbols, culture, and political forces.
David S. Bell Leeds University
'Bell picks his way deftly and elegantly, with a lively sensitivity, to the personalities involved, through the vicissitudes at the top of French politics over four decades. This is good narrative history and reads very well.'English Historical Review'This compact, surprisingly comprehensive study is recommended for graduate students and Europeanists seeking a reliable overview of Fifth Republic presidencies.'Choice'Excellent … It is a very thought-provoking book, and its complexities of argument are regularly accompanied by the dry wit now associated with its author. This text should be read by all scholars of both France and the context/s of instiutional power.'Political Studies