What is “Fifth Republic?

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June 27, 2024

What is “Fifth Republic?

the term “Fifth Republic” refers to the current republican government system in France, which was established in 1958.

Fifth Republic in France (1958):


  • Predecessor: The Fourth Republic (1946-1958), characterized by political instability and frequent changes in government.
  • Catalyst: The Algerian Crisis of 1958, which highlighted the weaknesses of the Fourth Republic, leading to demands for a stronger executive.


  • Date: The Fifth Republic was officially established on October 4, 1958.
  • Key Figure: Charles de Gaulle, who became the first President of the Fifth Republic.
  • Constitution: The new constitution, drafted by Michel Debré and others, was approved by a referendum on September 28, 1958.


  1. Strong Executive:
    • President: The President of the Republic was given significant powers, including the ability to appoint the Prime Minister, dissolve the National Assembly, and call referendums.
    • Prime Minister: Appointed by the President, responsible for running the government and implementing policies.
  2. Balanced Power Structure:
    • Bicameral Legislature: Consists of the National Assembly (lower house) and the Senate (upper house).
    • Judiciary: An independent judiciary, with the Constitutional Council overseeing the constitutionality of laws.
  3. Stability Mechanisms:
    • Reduced Fragmentation: Measures to reduce political fragmentation and frequent government changes.
    • Emergency Powers: The President has the power to take emergency measures in times of crisis, under Article 16 of the Constitution.


  • Political Stability: The Fifth Republic brought much-needed stability to France’s political system, with fewer government changes and more coherent policies.
  • Economic and Social Reforms: Enabled a series of significant economic and social reforms, leading to growth and modernization.
  • De Gaulle’s Legacy: Charles de Gaulle’s influence shaped the early years, establishing a tradition of strong presidential leadership.

Key Events in the Fifth Republic:

  1. Algerian Independence: In 1962, Algeria gained independence from France, ending a significant colonial conflict.
  2. May 1968 Protests: Major student and worker protests that led to social and political changes.
  3. Election of François Mitterrand: In 1981, Mitterrand became the first socialist president of the Fifth Republic, serving two terms.
  4. Constitutional Revisions: Several amendments have been made to the 1958 Constitution to address evolving political and social needs.

The Fifth Republic continues to be the governing system of France, known for its hybrid nature, combining elements of both presidential and parliamentary systems.

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What is “Fifth Republic? | Vaid ICS Institute