It is generally agreed that the new-style presidency is the key institution of the French Fifth Republic in that it helps to ensure the stability and effectiveness of the political system--something that France has been seeking since the Revolution of 1789.
Yet, paradoxically, no comprehensive study of the French presidential phenomenon exists. The accumulated experience of 1959-1991, extending over the terms of de Gaulle, Pompidou, Giscard d'Estaing, and Mitterrand, begs a comparative study of their institutional and personal roles in the political process.
Among the subjects here considered are: the pre-1958 presidency and the ways in which practice has diverged from constitutional provisions; the president's relations with his staff; the prime minister and government; the political parties; parliament; and the role of the mass media. Finally, the president's special role in foreign and defense policy, as well as his personal projects, are examined.
Contributing to the volume are: J. E. S. Hayward, Martin Harrison (University of Keele), Anne Stevens (University of Kent), Jolyon Howarth (University of Bath), Vincent Wright (Nuffield College, Oxford), Jean-Luc Parodi, and Howard Machin (London School of Economics).