In one way, anyhow, French politics stuck to a pattern in 1952. In the first week of the year France lost her government, and in the last week of the year France lacked a government once more. It has lately looked as if France would have no government for New Year's Day of 1953, either. The new government, when it does turn up, will be the eighteenth - a dozen and a half of them - since the postwar Fourth Republic was founded, in 1945.
The present hiatus is regarded by the French as the most profoundly serious of all, only because it proves for the seventeenth time that something is wrong with the system, which it is now admitted must be fixed. Until recently, the demand for constitutional revision was suspiciously considered exclusively the product of the ideological mysticism of General Charles de Gaulle and his followers in the Rassemblement du Peuple Francais. Today, few politicians would disagree with the General - not even those who wrote the Fourth Republic's constitution. The main trouble with the document is that it makes better provision for the fall of governmentsthan it does for the co-ordination of their limited post-war powers.
From Paris Journal 1944-1965 by Janet Flanner (Gollancz 1966)
(Research by Kate Oldfield)
Paris Post War: Art and Existentialism 1945-55 at the Tate Gallery until
5 September. See Monday's Independent for reader offers.Reuse content