The Constitution of the new French Republic, adopted by referendum in 1958, ad the institutions established to serve it were, for decades, associated with ideas of progress and a strong, dynamic French nation.
“One of the essential features of the Constitution of the Fifth Republic is that it endows the State with a head, “observed Charles de Gaulle when speaking of the text wich had been drafted, at his request, by Michel Debré, the man subsequently to become his Prime Minister. There is a touch of irony, as France is well known for the fate reserved for certain heads of State in the past.
Today, more than sixty years later, the Fifth Republic is struggling, under pressure from the ongoing financial crisis, an increasingly divided society, the concentration of power in the hands of an elite, terrorism, demagogy, and the social unrest of the “gilets jaunes” protest movement. All of this has shaken the Republic to its foundations, and now it has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.