The outcome of the presidential elections in France took public opinion abroad by surprise. General de Gaulle was thought to be so exceptional a politician, with such great personal radiance and such a firm grip on opinion that it seemed he would be elected by a substantial majority on the first ballot. The results he had obtained in referenda in the past led one to believe that he would do even better in the presidential elections. His main argument in those referenda had been that if he did not obtain an unequivocal and massive response he could not carry on with his task. This election centered, directly and personally, on him. The outcome, then, appeared clear in advance.

It is interesting to look now into the reasons why he was forced to submit to a runoff; for though they do not define the future precisely, they do permit us to analyze what it may be.

General de Gaulle's policies dissatisfied many Frenchmen. From his return to power in 1958 to 1963, inflation grew at a rate equal to what we had experienced in the Fourth Republic. The stabilization plan came too late, lasted too long and brought economic stagnation and social problems. The crisis touched nearly every professional and social class. Discontent was widespread. Its principal manifestation, generally forgotten, was the big miners' strike in 1962, which occurred even though the Government had declared it a "social year," a year when the claims of the workers would be recognized. Another group, the farmers, were equally discontented. They felt they were being sacrificed by the Government. They blocked roads with their tractors and sometimes even stormed prefectures. Later they hoped their troubles might be solved by bringing agriculture into the Common Market. The rupture of negotiations for that purpose at Brussels on June 30, 1965, was a very deep disappointment to them. Fanners are slow to change. But once they have lost confidence in a leader, it cannot be restored, even if repeated promises are made.

One characteristic of the recent election was that the traditionally Gaullist electorate in the rural areas voted for the opposition candidates. In the big cities, the Gaullist element was more faithful. There,, some leftist voters-socialists, Communists or radicals, and particularly women- voted for de Gaulle, while in the countryside the opposite occurred.

Another factor in the success of the opposition was the fact that for the first time since de Gaulle returned to power, Frenchmen were exposed to a variety of views on radio and television. It is said that when André Malraux visited the United States he asked President Kennedy, "How do you manage to govern without a television monopoly?" De Gaulle thought that by allowing two hours to each candidate during the campaign the opposition would quickly weary the public-but the opposite happened. Two candidates in particular, François Mitterrand and Jean Lecanuet, young and intelligent men, passed the television test and showed the French public the heart of the problems at stake. The polls revealed, as the campaign progressed, that many who had formerly voted for de Gaulle were deciding to vote for the opposition. The General himself made a serious error in confusing elections and referenda, and in giving an impression of contempt for public opinion. In fact, he neglected to use his own speaking time fully and addressed the voters directly only twice.

As we shall note in detail later, de Gaulle's foreign policy also was disturbing and unsatisfactory, particularly with respect to the problem of Europe, which was at the center of the campaign.


Gaullism is based entirely on confidence in one man; and he refuses to define the policy he will follow. For a long time, de Gaulle gave the impression of infallibility. The shock to public opinion caused by his being forced into a run-off election shows that Gaullism will not survive de Gaulle.

Gaullist supporters are a very heterogeneous group, composed largely of conservatives, with some leftists-socialists, Communists and radicals-but especially of a mass of floating voters, representing 40 percent of the active electorate, whose choice is decisive on election day. The question for the future is which way these floaters will go.

Two great movements are taking shape, preparing for the aftermath of Gaullism. These are the Federation of the Democratic and Socialist Left, of which François Mitterrand is president, and the Center Democrats led by Mr. Lecanuet.

When I was a candidate I attached more importance to transforming the French political structure than to getting elected. I thought that what counted was to avoid the alternatives of either instability or personal power in which France has been locked for a hundred years, and not just since the Fourth Republic. My object was to create at least two large political forces, one left of center, the other conservative. The Communists and the extreme right would remain outside these groups. Since I did not succeed in this, the natural, honest and moral thing was for me to withdraw. I considered it my duty to withdraw in order to save the idea. Though I did not succeed, once the idea had been launched it was taken up in a narrower form, that of the Federation of the Democratic and Socialist Left. I supported Mr. Mitterrand in the campaign, as he had me when I was a candidate, and I have now decided to back the Federation, which for a while was called the "little federation," as opposed to my broader plan.

The Federation must grow in two directions: to the left, toward the Unified Socialist Party, and toward certain men of the left center who worked with Lecanuet during the campaign but now are uneasy because they feel he is tending to the right. The Federation must present a single candidate in each constituency in the next elections. If certain questions are settled between now and then, its candidates might hope to win over the Communists and the Gaullists.

Among these questions, two are essential. First, individuals must be admitted as members of the Federation, at present composed wholly of old political parties and certain clubs. This would open the door to the floating voters who showed their interest at the time of the election but refused to adhere to the old parties. Second, the political groups which make up the Federation-that is, the Socialist Party, the Radical Party, the Union of Socialist Democrats of the Resistance, and the clubs-must merge into a single new group, younger and more attractive than the old parties.

The other political force emerging from the presidential election is Lecanuet's right-oriented Democratic Center, made up of the conservative Popular Republican Movement, Christian in origin and entrenched especially in the east and west of France, and of the Independents-that is, moderates and conservatives. In the future the movement will probably become a rightist force.

A third element in the political situation consists of the supporters of Giscard d'Estaing, a Gaullist conservative who was dismissed as Finance Minister after the election. He is now trying to set up a political party which after de Gaulle disappears would gather in the former Gaullist voters on the right. It is too soon to say whether d'Estaing and Lecanuet will compete for the traditionally moderate element which voted Gaullist for a time, or whether they will join forces.

In any case, it appears certain that political life in France is going to be simplified. The French realize by now that a multiplicity of parties prevents the formation of a real majority in the government and in parliament and provokes ministerial instability. And even the most anti- Gaullist of Frenchmen do not wish to return to that.

It seems to me impossible to build a homogeneous and lasting governing majority on the basis of agreements made between political parties after the elections, if during the elections they have been separate and opposed. In England, the candidates of a political party are presented together in the elections, with the result that they are more responsible in Parliament, and the solid majority increases ministerial stability. In France, difficulties generally do not arise from an attempt to carry out a program which has been established in advance, but from unforeseen events. Deputies elected in competition with one another are more likely to fall out among themselves, provoking a ministerial crisis, whereas if they are elected together they must face future difficulties together.

General de Gaulle has modified the Constitution of 1958 profoundly. He has violated its spirit in creating a "reserved domain" where he is sole master; it includes foreign policy, national defense and relations with underdeveloped countries. Further, he declared in his press conference of January 31, 1964, that, contrary to what the Constitution says, all powers- civil, military and even judicial-emanate from the President of the Republic. Now in France it is a very old tradition, indeed a rule, that legislative, executive and judicial powers are separate. De Gaulle wished to bring them together in his own hands. That is why it is said in France that he exercises personal power.

Again, by the referendum of November 1962, he caused the Constitution to be amended so that the President is elected by universal suffrage. The American President is elected in this way, but he is not responsible to Congress, and a balance has been established between the executive and legislative powers; the executive branch cannot impose its will on the legislature. In fact, it often happens that the Congress does not accept the proposals of the Executive.

In France, under the Gaullist system, everything is in the hands of the President of the Republic-executive power, the legislature and the judiciary. The ministers take part in all parliamentary debates, and the Government has the right to call for a vote of confidence in the Assembly. Under the 1958 Constitution, the Government automatically receives confidence if 50 percent of the deputies have not taken the initiative and introduced a motion of censure, and do not vote against the Government in a roll call. In addition, article 16 of the Constitution permits the President, at any moment he judges expedient, to suspend the parliament and exercise dictatorial power.

The essence of the Constitution, except for article 16, might well be preserved if it were applied in the spirit and the letter in which it was conceived in 1958. It would then secure ministerial stability. And if, as one might hope, the number of parties dwindles, it then will be possible to combine democracy, stability and efficiency.

De Gaulle's mediocre results in this respect are due to both his domestic and foreign policies. For a long time he thought he could displease various social and professional classes but carry his appeal to the masses and obtain their confidence. However, dissatisfactions accumulated until by the time of the election they were stronger than his charm and magnetism.

I myself, as a candidate, explained to the Breton farmers that it served no purpose to barricade the roads if afterwards they were going to vote for de Gaulle. They did in fact refrain from voting for de Gaulle on the first ballot. But in the runoff, some of them voted for him because Mitterrand had been officially endorsed by the Communist Party. The creation of the Federation of the Democratic and Socialist Left, of which I have spoken, will preclude this sort of result by bringing together all French democrats with a socialist leaning, but excluding the Communists.


During the campaign, all the opposition candidates spoke copiously about Europe, showing that this seemingly abstract idea had penetrated deeply into the French mind. Merchants, industrialists and farmers alike were convinced that to build Europe was the only way to maintain peace and to solve the economic problems ahead. It is comforting to note that the Gaullist propaganda did not succeed in fooling the public into believing that General de Gaulle was a true European. Though he called himself a more realistic European than his opponents, Frenchmen understood that to build Europe we must not only apply the Treaty of Rome, but also be imbued with a European spirit in order to surmount difficulties which the Treaty could not foresee. The French were taken with the idea of a supranational Europe, to which de Gaulle, who remains attached to concepts of the past, is fundamentally opposed.

The resumed negotiations on the Common Market have proved that, in spite of what he said during the campaign, de Gaulle remains opposed to a true Europe. He has protested the role of the Commission of the E.E.C., its only common organ, which acts not in the name of one country but in the name of the Six; and further, he has refused to accept majority rule as provided in the Treaty. This refusal means that all decisions must still be unanimous; in other words, a single state can exercise a veto.

The resulting arrangement is purely formal. De Gaulle has not given way on his principles. The Six have decided to continue to meet, but the role of the Commission will be diminished. Majority rule has not been abandoned in principle, but France declared that she would not accept it and the other five partners agreed not to apply it whenever an important question is under discussion. Our partners in the Common Market wished to avoid a break which would definitely jeopardize the construction of Europe.

General de Gaulle's foreign policy toward the United States flatters the nationalism and vanity of certain Frenchmen who like to see the chief of state stand up to a great world power. But this attitude is disturbing to others, and sometimes even to those who are anti-American. And incidentally, they are even more uneasy over his turning to the East. However, an agreement with Russia would bother the French less than a rapprochement with China. Many Frenchmen in fact realize that world peace depends on the peaceful coexistence of the United States and the U.S.S.R., but they wonder what role China will play in the world concert.

Many French disapprove, as I personally do, of the policies of the United States in Santo Domingo and in Viet Nam, but they do not think that blustering communiqués will influence American policy. On the contrary, they are convinced that it is by creating Europe, and speaking in the name of Europe, that European statesmen will exert a real influence on the American Government and lead it to change its foreign policy in the direction of what they consider progress and peace.

Giving de Gaulle the benefit of the doubt, one can say that in order to regain some of his lost popularity he has decided at least provisionally to modify his economic and social policies. (The replacement of d'Estaing by Debré as Finance Minister is the evidence.) But he will not alter his foreign policy. He considers its realization essential to the accomplishment of his mission. Since he is a nineteenth-century nationalist, he ignores the fact that things have changed and that in a world where the great powers are of continental dimensions-the United States, the U.S.S.R. and, one might add, China-France's only chance for survival is to throw herself into the creation of Europe. Here his policy is very much behind the times. He once spoke of "papa's Algeria;" actually he is France's "grandpapa," refusing to open his eyes to the world's transformation in the last few decades.

It is not likely, then, that he will change his foreign policy. Probably, too, he will continue to refuse to talk with the Americans, which I think is a mistake. In the course of a trip to the United States in the spring of 1964, where I was received by President Johnson, Secretary of State Rusk and others, I emphasized that it was possible to follow a policy different from that of the United States, but only if it is fully explained. Whoever knows Americans knows that one can ask them to change their policy, and perhaps even persuade them to do so, provided the request is based not on antiquated nationalism but on moral values, the political principles which are the foundation of Western civilization, and which we share. General de Gaulle, locking himself in his ivory tower, stands no chance of persuading the Americans to change their policy. It is likely that he does not even want to do so, and rejoices in the mistakes they may make.

For France and Western Europe, the military danger inherent in Stalinist postwar policy is now much attenuated. In contrast, the economic invasion by the United States is a clear and present danger. American economic power, the dynamic power of its big businesses and the size of their investments in Europe (even if in some cases they are merely pursuing on our side of the Atlantic their own competitive domestic practices) are the beginning of the colonization of our economy. General de Gaulle is not sufficiently aware of this. He speaks often of national independence, but he does nothing to prevent the economic takeover of European enterprises by American big business.

The relative economic power of the United States is shown by the fact that its national income is eight times that of France; the annual increment alone is half the total French national income. A single American corporation, General Motors, has a budget nearly equivalent to that of France. The largest French enterprise would rank fiftieth among American firms, which are scaled to a continent of nearly 200,000,000 people. Clearly, French firms are unable to fight these competitors from across the sea. As a result, American investments are becoming more and more numerous in France and in Europe, particularly in fields of most rapid growth. The Bull concern, the only large French maker of electronic computers, is both a crushing example of this phenomenon and an illustration of how the Gaullist government meets it. When Bull was in difficult straits, the French Government helped it avoid bankruptcy; then it allowed the majority holdings to pass into the hands of General Electric, which competes on the world market with another American firm, I.B.M. Thenceforth the centers of decision in a vital sector, not only in the economic sense but for the national defense, were no longer in France but in the United States.

Thus it can be said that General de Gaulle's nationalist policy is not only carrying us back to a bygone era, but is leading-under an appearance of independence-to the colonization of the French economy by the United States. Some say that this is neither wished for nor welcomed by the U.S. Government, that it foils its efforts to maintain the stability of the dollar and that unfavorable reactions to it hamper American diplomacy. It none the less remains a dangerous and unacceptable fact. Colonization always leads sooner or later to decolonization-after trouble, suffering and sometimes war.

We do not want that. But unlike the Gaullists we are not content simply to say so; we want to provide ourselves with the means to resist. The formula for resistance is to make a reality of Europe, an independent Europe. Only when Europe is economically and politically united, endowed with a supranational authority and a parliament elected by universal suffrage-in other words, the exact opposite of what General de Gaulle wants-will it be capable of confronting the dangers of economic colonization by the United States. Only within a European framework will it be possible to build enterprises powerful enough to hold their own with big American businesses. Only then will it be possible to end the sad spectacle of European statesmen taking turns ringing doorbells in Washington or paying visits to Moscow. To ensure its prosperity, Europe must control its own principal centers of decision. France's job should be to convince our European partners of this, as well as the United States. The Europe we want to build is not a roundabout way of camouflaging some kind of submission to the United States, but exactly the opposite.


It may seem paradoxical that Franco-American relations depend in large part on the solution of the German problem; yet that happens to be the case. Germany's place in Europe and the world is such that relations between the United States and Germany, and the policies they pursue jointly, are of direct concern to France and have repercussions on Franco-American relations.

Economically, Germany has become the third strongest industrial power in the world and occupies second place in world trade. Politically and geographically, Germany is in the center of Europe and also faces the countries of the East. It is a divided country, and it will always have a tendency to wish for reunification. In the event of a serious economic crisis, there would be the risk of this desire becoming a need.

In refusing to build Europe and pushing the United States into the arms of an ever stronger and more nationalistic Germany, General de Gaulle has made Germany both the principal ally of the United States and even a sort of arbiter between the United States and Russia.

When the United States aided in the reconstruction of Europe after the war by pressing economic integration, it instituted a policy of nondiscrimination toward Germany in order to preserve control over it and make it accept the fact of division without offending its national touchiness. The result was that Germany's European partners were fitted into the same corset. Since then, Germany has become the best ally of the United States. This situation leads the United States increasingly to play its German trump card against France, and Germany to claim with growing insistence the right to nuclear arms and, one day, the reunification of the two Germanys. The only way to end this process is the construction of a Europe in which Germany would be firmly included.

Without European unity, the danger of war created by the present state of affairs can only grow. The U.S.S.R. will not agree that Germany be given nuclear arms; and the problem of German reunification cannot be resolved peacefully so long as it is posed in terms of a test of strength between the United States and the U.S.S.R. But if American policy in this respect is unfavorable to France, falling into step with Gaullist policy cannot change it, nor usefully combat it.

Another area in which a unified Europe could be most helpful is in extending aid to the third world. As presently administered through bilateral pacts between governments or by the operations of powerful private interests, aid is a form of neocolonialism. It can lead to political and even military intervention to protect private interests, or to armed intervention such as that of France in Gabon. Commercial or political clients are recruited under the pretext of generosity. Aid to the third world ought to be given in such a way that it cannot become a more-or- less camouflaged instrument of domination. It must not make battlefields of the countries involved, or even zones of struggle for influence between East and West. Aid must be depersonalized-that is, distributed by a group of nations, such as a united Europe.

The United States, because of the power of its private enterprises, its policies in Latin America and the Far East, and its feeling of responsibility to fight Communism all over the world, will not change its policy toward the third world unless forced to do so. So, too, the Soviet Union and China will doubtless continue for a long time to try to extend their zone of influence by offering aid to the undeveloped countries.

France alone cannot modify the course of events, either by voyages in space or by making promises it cannot keep, and definitely not by following the same policy, on a more modest scale, as that followed by the United States, the U.S.S.R. and China. On the other hand, a united Europe would be able to make a policy of real aid to the third world succeed. European coöperation with the countries on the road to development could avoid the constraints of anti-Communism and the appetites of private interests. Since Europe would not force the developing countries to bind their domestic policies to a particular foreign policy, they would not have to choose between renouncing socialism, which they may want, or integrating their economies into the Eastern bloc, which they do not want. In short, European aid would permit them more independence. And in Africa, South America and Asia neither of the two camps would look on it as a menacing intrusion of the other.


The right policy for attaining peace and progress is one which would permit us to be equal with the United States, not only in law but also in fact, so as to escape economic colonization and exert real influence in orienting American and world policies in a constructive direction. Such a policy will never materialize unless Europe finally becomes a reality. And General de Gaulle is the first obstacle to overcome. To the question, "What is needed for the construction of Europe?", the first response must be "for de Gaulle to get out." But that of itself is not enough, because the United States could also prevent the creation of Europe.

Having pushed Europe together following the war, the Americans have been uneasy about the economic implications of the progress of the E.E.C. For Europe to achieve equality and independence may be displeasing to business circles in the United States. But Americans must recognize that, in spite of the immediate inconvenience it may cause them, in the long run it is the only policy conducive to good relations between the United States and France, and to the maintenance of peace. Even if the economic growth of Europe constricts the United States, even if it meant that the U. S. Government could no longer deal alone with the East, nor enjoy exclusive power of decision, the Americans must accept it. The present situation cannot last.

If Europe is not built, American economic and political domination will provoke dangerous nationalist reactions, of which Gaullism is only a first expression. The spread of nuclear weapons will assume more and more dangerous proportions. Europe can avoid this. A creative European civilization, combining the most durable values of socialism with some of the more effective market techniques, would give peaceful coexistence a richer content than that of the balance of terror. The growth of exchanges of products, ideas and administrative techniques would assist the integration of societies which are different but tend more and more to converge. The East-West détente and the thaw in Eastern Europe would benefit from it. Everything which lessens tension and develops ties between East and West facilitates the solution of the German problem and improves Franco-American relations.

The policy of General de Gaulle will have had one single merit, that is, to spotlight the fact that our relations with the United States could not remain as they were after the immediate postwar period. But as in many other areas, even if the President in this respect sees clearly, he does not know what inferences to draw for the future. To refuse to submit to the United States is useful and in the best interest of France. To plunge into out-of-date nationalism, to refuse to create Europe, is dangerous to France and to the peace of the world.

The presidential election pointed strikingly to the erosion of Gaullist power. Will the men who are given the opportunity when power changes hands know how to start off resolutely on a new path? Will they know how to escape the traditions, the old habits, which in the past have driven some to find attractions in the United States and others in Russia? And will they understand that Europe's role now is to pass from the balance of terror to active peaceful coexistence? We may hope so, since the candidates who ran against the General made the creation of Europe the central theme of their campaign.

But time is pressing. Perhaps tomorrow it will be too late to accomplish what is possible today. In political as in private life, it is rare to meet opportunities twice. If through the fault of General de Gaulle the opportunity to build Europe is lost, he will carry a grave responsibility with him into history.

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