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Essay Notes - 'During noncohabitation, the French president is an elected dictator; during cohabitation, he is a powerless monarch'. Discuss.
- A key question about whether semi-presidentialism is a more effective form of government than pure presidentialism (i.e. does France differ in practice from the USA, and is this for the better?) is whether executive-legislative deadlock is merely replaced by intra-executive deadlock?
- Breakdown into analysis and evaluation of France during 'normal' conditions and during cohabitation
- Define: cohabitation, elected dictator and powerless monarch
- Argument that monocratic government might be the best means of explaining the president's power during non-cohabitation
- Obviously offer limitations and argue this is becoming less the case over time
- But not a powerless monarch during cohabitation, instead there is segmented government
- Critique of shared government
- Note that cohabitation itself is less likely in the future due to coterminous elections
- Argument in favour of monocratic government during non-cohabitation
- Define monocratic government as being based on the key assumption that the executive is controlled by one person
- All evidence in support has to be tested against this assumption
- Frears: "the general aura of the presidency... with its disdain for political parties and electioneering, its self-consciously regal-style, the absence of direct public accountability and the increasingly wide range of policies and decisions which come within the personal ambit of the President, gives some validity to the phrase 'president-king'" (p.34, Elgie & Griggs)
- Stevens: "Foundered on the awkward tendency of presidents to involve themselves in whatever seemed to them to matter"
- Grand projets (Stevens, p.84)
- Elgie & Griggs: p.36
- de Gaulle's decision not to devalue the franc in 1967
- Mitterrand's personal responsibility for austerity package in 1983
- Chirac's redefinition of the then government's priorities by stating France was committed to meeting the Maastricht convergence criteria
- Constitutional basis and ability to push beyond constitution
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