FRANCE - Comparative Politics FRANCE Unlike Britain Frances...

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2/5/08 Comparative Politics FRANCE Unlike Britain, France’s history has been marked by dramatic swings between TWO “POLAR” regime types: 1. Authoritarian/Centralized a. Powerful absolutist (type of regime in which all power is concentrated in a single individual) executive. b. Weak or absent legislature 2. Democratic/Fragmented a. Weak/figurehead executive b. Powerful but factionalized in parliament. Consequences of Frances Pendulum history 1. Political instability a. Swings Meant neither regime type able o fully instutinalize itself. Always TENTATIVE. b. Incentives for regimes opponents to actively seek to under mind overthrow it (to withdraw from LEGITIMATE political competition. 2. Social Polarization a. Political interaction focused on pursuit of total victory/destruction of opponents rather then negotiation/compromise. b. Prevented emergence of consensus/legitimacy within society over basic ‘rules of the game’ Failure of Fourth Republic and Birth of Current Political System -In 1948, after the defeat of VICHY (French puppet govt. during WWII Nazi occupation)
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