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 systemsomething 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).
"Are they needed? To be sure. The Darwinian industry, industrious though it is, has failed to provide texts of more than a handful of Darwin's books. If you want to know what Darwin said about barnacles (still an essential reference to cirripedists, apart from any historical importance) you are forced to search shelves, or wait while someone does it for you; some have been in print for a century; various reprints have appeared and since vanished."
-Eric Korn, "Times Literary Supplement"