French Fourth Republic

The French Fourth Republic (French: Quatrième république française) was the republican government of France from 27 October 1946 to 4 October 1958, governed by the fourth republican constitution. It was in many ways a revival of the Third Republic that was in place from 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War to 1940 during World War II, and suffered many of the same problems. France adopted the constitution of the Fourth Republic on 13 October 1946.

French Republic
République française (French)
National emblem
Motto: "Liberté, égalité, fraternité"
"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"
Anthem: "La Marseillaise"
Great Seal:
  Metropolitan France
  Saar Protectorate
and largest city
48°51′N 2°21′E
Official languageFrench
Secular state[lower-alpha 1]

In Alsace-Moselle

GovernmentUnitary parliamentary republic
Vincent Auriol
René Coty
Prime Minister 
 1947 (first)
Paul Ramadier
 1958–1959 (last)
Charles de Gaulle
Council of the Republic
National Assembly
Historical era
13 October 1946
 Constitution adopted
27 October 1946
13 March 1954
1 November 1954
17 March 1948
13 May 1958
28 September 1958
 New constitution adopted
4 October 1958
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Provisional Government of the French Republic
French Fifth Republic
French Community
Today part ofFrance

Despite the political dysfunction, the Fourth Republic saw an era of great economic growth in France and the rebuilding of the nation's social institutions and industry after World War II, with assistance from the United States provided through the Marshall Plan. It also saw the beginning of the rapprochement with former longtime enemy Germany, which in turn led to Franco-German co-operation and eventually to the development of the European Union.

Some attempts were also made to strengthen the executive branch of government to prevent the unstable situation that had existed before the war, but the instability remained and the Fourth Republic saw frequent changes in government – there were 21 administrations in its 12-year history. Moreover, the government proved unable to make effective decisions regarding decolonization of the numerous remaining French colonies. After a series of crises, most importantly the Algerian crisis of 1958, the Fourth Republic collapsed. Wartime leader Charles de Gaulle returned from retirement to preside over a transitional administration that was empowered to design a new French constitution. The Fourth Republic was dissolved on 5 October 1958 following a public referendum which established the modern-day Fifth Republic with a strengthened presidency.

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