Obituary: Geoffroy de Montalembert

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The Independent Online
Geoffroy de Montalembert, politician, born Annapes 10 October 1898, died Neuilly 2 March 1993.

GEOFFROY de Montalembert was the doyen d'age of the French Senate and for several years had made the speech which inaugurated a new parliamentary session. But if he were the oldest member of this second chamber he was also the smallest in stature, and in the eyes of many the most vigorous. In group meetings he would leap on to a table in order the better to express his vehement feelings.

He was a good example of the republican tradition, whereby a landowner, mayor of his commune, could be elected deputy or Senator (and he was a deputy from 1936 to 1940) and could retain his position through different Republics (he was Senator for the Seine Maritime from 1946 until his death).

Although he voted for the transfer of full powers to Petain in 1940, he became a staunch Gaullist, and in 1958 became Vice-President of the Constitutional Committee that drew up the constitution of the Fifth Republic.

In 1951 he was bold enough to approach de Gaulle and in view of the forthcoming elections to suggest that the Gaullist party should ally with other political groups. He wanted de Gaulle to become more of a tactician. Naturally he got a blunt refusal, although de Gaulle in the end accepted a limited number of alliances, perhaps too late to save his party. De Montalembert, coming from a distinguished family, was himself a skilful tactician, as he showed when he was Vice-President of the Senate's commission on finance for the long period from 1971 to 1986.