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adiunkt w Instytucie Nauk Politycznych Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego
Publication date: 2020-01-25
Studia Politologiczne 2010;18
This article examines the change of intra-executive relations under the Fifth Republic. In particular, it looks at the presidential decision to change or reshuffle governments as well as the practice of realization of political responsibility. The political system created by the 1958 Constitution has been called semipresidential. Originally, the concept of the “semi-presidential regime” coined by M. Duverger, has been contested by G. Vedel or O. Duhamel. The Fifth Republic aimed at founding the “rationalized” parliamentarism and re-establishing executive authority as a means of improving cabinet stability and legislative capacity. One of the consequences was the weakened position of the parliament. The government in a semi-presidential system is said to be subject to “dual responsibility” it has to be supported or accepted by parliament, as in parliamentary systems, but also, not formally but in the practice, by the president. The autonomy of the government with regard to the presidency varies over time. Especially this depends on divided executive called “cohabitation”. Cohabitation practice took nine years out of 50 years of history. That nine years are concentrated in the most recent period, between 1986–2002. It shows that cohabitation practice is more exception than the rule. In this context the very significant was the constitutional amendment of 2000, which reduced the presidential mandate, in order to limit the danger of cohabitation. The president has the effective power to change ministers and prime ministers. The resignations of governments have followed either a lost parliamentary elections or the president’s demand to do so. It shows that the president has used the institutional privileges and political circumstances to replace governments or reshuffle in many cases in his own interest. Since 1962, no government has been forced to step down after a successful motion de censure, as laid by art. 49.2 of the Constitution. In the fact, eight of the 18 prime ministers of the Fifth Republic have dismiss without having lost the majority in parliament. The strengthening of the role of the president in the French political system reflect the general tendency towards stronger executive dominance, called “presidentialisation”. There are various reasons for “presidentialisation” i.e. the globalization processes, personalisation of politic, transformation of party system, development of mass media, etc. Some scholars argue that the French political system is evolved in to “ultra-presidentialist”, during the periods when presidential and legislative majorities coincide. In the fact current situation under President N. Sarkozy shows progress of presidentialisation. Actually, the 2008 Constitutional revision aimed at revalorization of the parliament and “democratization of the institutions” has not changed this tendency.