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Post World War II French Political Development.

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Post World War II French Political Development World War II was a moment of truth for the French. The French were profoundly devastated by the Germans in a matter of weeks and succumbed to internal right wing pressure during the German occupation. Only after being handed back their sovereignty on a platter by the Americans and the British could the French be able to fully reintegrate, reinvent it's society and reassert it's former hegemonic dominance. The French chose to establish a "permanent" Fourth Republic that was to lead France out of the darkness of World War II and back into the international limelight, however the permanence of the Fourth Republic was short lived due to domestic and external strife. This essay will look at the structural instability that plagued the Fourth Republic as well as the external events that shaped the creation of the Fifth Republic. This essay will also examine the broad political changes that have occurred in France since the establishment of the Fifth Republic in 1958. The Fifth Republic's structure and stability are largely a result of the Fourth Republic's instability and structural difficulties. ...read more.


The Algerian conflict began in November 1954. The causes were numerous but included a growing population, stagnant agriculture, migration to urban centers and consequent unemployment there and an educated cadre of indig´┐Żnes with new political aspirations. Algeria had always occupied a significant position within France's colonial outlook because of its proximity with the European mainland. Although this was also true of Morocco and Tunisia, two of France's principal North African dependencies, the issue of decolonization there did not cause the reverberations and fractures in metropolitan politics, as did Algeria. Algeria was different from Morocco and Tunisia because of the presence of over one million white settlers of European descent. Mainly French, though with considerable Italian and Maltese communities, these settlers were familiarly known as pieds noirs and had established themselves from the 1870s. More so than perhaps other settler communities in parts of the British Empire, the pieds noirs had strong roots in Algeria, making France's policy toward Algeria all the more important. The war was a fierce one: France became notorious for its use of terror and torture and accusations of intimidation were also made against anti-French Algerians. ...read more.


France has done so through having an independent security role. As addressed earlier, France's choice to pursue an independent nuclear deterrent separated itself from the Americans and other western powers. France made the decision to pursue it's independent deterrent because de Gaulle felt that the only people who would ever defend France with nuclear weapons were the French, despite NATO's article 5 commitments. Since the end of the Cold War France has argued that NATO should cease to exist because it is just one more sphere of American dominance. France has also been one of the strongest backers of the European Union, which combining the economies of the member states serves as an effective balancer to American economic hegemony. In conclusion, France has undergone massive political and social change since the end of German occupation. These changes are due to the "temporary" Fifth Republic constitution, which has served to bring about stability in a country that has been ripe with instability. Only through the continuation of the Fifth Republic will France be able to reassert it's role on the world stage. As seen recently with the United Nations debate on Iraq, France has been trying to establish it's independent role in Western Europe and to assert it's global authority, whether that's a good thing is a question for another mid-term. ...read more.

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