Politics_in_France

Politics_in_France - Politics in France "Inside the...

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Politics in France “Inside the Hexagon”
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Here’s France!
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Historical Background: A Tumultuous Path to Democratic Stability What distinguishes France’s road to democratic stability from Britain’s? Long history of nondemocratic state institutions, strong central state, weak parliamentary tradition Authoritarian elites Strong role for state in promoting national wealth
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Road to democratic stability, cont. Differences from UK experience, cont. French nationalism more closely identified with state and its authority A middle class whose support for democratic institutions has been erratic Difficulty in integrating disadvantaged (working class) into political system Turbulent international environment
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The French state Powers of French monarchy steadily enhanced since consolidation off Bourbon dynasty (c. 1589) No assertive parliament as in Britain Assembly divided into “estates”: First (nobility); Second (Roman Catholic clergy); Third (rural and urban sectors) Great Ordinance of 1357 attempted to establish constitutional monarchy, failed Estates General did not meet from 1614 to 1789
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The French Revolution
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The French Revolution: Causes and Consequences Centuries of royal absolutism, no parliamentary representation, opposition from disempowered nobility, poor financial management, unfair taxes, severe poverty, pressure from competitive international environment
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Prelude to revolution Louis XVI convened first Estates General meeting since 1614 to seek help in levying new taxes (government was broke from, among other things, helping pay for American Revolution) Assembly dominated by Third Estate, which demanded constitutional monarchy; Louis XVI agreed
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France’s first (but not last!) written constitution Declaration of the Rights of Man Enshrined public property and “resistance to oppression” as well as citizen participation in law-making process Granted citizenship to all French males over 25; voting rights limited to property owners
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Jacobin Seizure of power Radical political clubs known as Jacobins favored abolishing monarchy, establishing republic Took control of Paris; by 1792 they controlled France and established a new government (the Convention) which was more radical than previous National Assembly Abolished monarchy in 1792
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The Convention Divided into extreme radicals (seated on left), centrists, and conservatives (seated on right of assembly); genesis of “left-right” political spectrum Condemned king to death in late 1792; Louis XVI beheaded in 1793 King’s execution marked beginning of “the Terror,” during which some 20,000 “enemies of the people” were put to death
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Revolutionary instability Radicals established Committee of Public Safety (an ironic term for a group hell-bent on ruling through terror) Agents sent to outlying areas to enforce Jacobin rule Moderates seized power in 1794 and established the “Directory”—democratic freedoms were curtailed during this period
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Politics_in_France - Politics in France "Inside the...

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