Comparative Analysis and Critique
Edited by Helena Alviar García and Günter Frankenberg
Chapter 9: French authoritarian constitutionalism and its legacy
This chapter links monarchic constitutionalism to Bonapartism and Gaullism as forming part of a French tradition of ‘authoritarian constitutionalism’. It argues that the first Bonapartism (1799-1814) laid the foundation for monarchic constitutionalism (1814-48), which in turn did the same for the second Bonapartism (1848-70) and for Gaullism (1958–69). It focuses on ‘constitutional moments’ and the question of constituent power, examining the initial ‘constitutional octroy’ following a coup, and, in the cases of Bonapartism and Gaullism, the use of plebiscite to legalize what could anachronistically be called today ‘unconstitutional’ constitutional revisions. The chapter is divided into three parts: first, monarchic constitutionalism, embodied in the 1814 and 1830 Constitutional Charters; second, Bonapartism, represented by the Constitution of Year VIII (1799) and the 1852 Constitution of the Second Empire, together with their amendments; and finally, Gaullism as a specific understanding of the Constitution of the Fifth Republic.
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