The centrepiece of this work is the French Constitution of 1958, portrayed by the author as an innovative hybrid construct whose arrival brought the constitutional stability that had eluded France for centuries. But the creation of the 1958 Constitution was not an isolated act; it represents part of an evolutionary process which continues to this day. Even though it is codified, the constitution of the Fifth Republic has evolved so markedly that some commentators have dubbed the present institutional balance the 'Sixth Republic'. It is this dynamic of the constitution which this book seeks to explain. At the same time the book shows how the French constitution has not developed in isolation, but reflects to some extent the global movement of ideas, ideas which sometimes challenge the very foundations of the 1958 Constitution.
Sophie Boyron is a senior lecturer in law at the University of Birmingham. She is also, together with John Bell and Simon Whittaker, one of the authors of Principles of French Law (OUP).
1 French Constitutional History: A Difficult Coming of Age The Constitutional 'Big-Bang': The Revolution of 1789 The Difficult Implementation of Constitutionalism Understanding French Constitutional History Conclusion: The Merger of Constitutional Traditions? 2 In Search of the Constitutional Fundamentals The Legitimacy of the 1958 Constitution The Integrity of the 1958 Constitution The Efficiency of the 1958 Constitution: The Political System Conclusion: Something Old, Something New 3 The Primacy of the Executive The Origins - The Search for a Strong Executive The President of the Republic: From Strength to Strength A Contested Bicephalous Executive The Difficult Accountability of the Executive Conclusion 4 Towards a Renewal of the Parliament A Return to Institutional Autonomy? The Constitutional Status of Members of Parliament Parliament's Work: A Great Improvement Conclusion: Further Reform? 5 The Rise of Judicial Power The Search for Judicial Independence The Rise of the Conseil constitutionnel Towards a Judicial Power? Conclusion 6 The Constitution and its People The French People and the Constitution The Sovereign Expression of the French People A Culture of Rights Protection Conclusion: A 'New' Citizen? 7 From Centralised Unity to Multilevel Constitutionalism The Rise of Territorial Government Keeping a Check on the European Union Conclusion 8 The Dynamics of Constitutional Change The Amendment Procedure: A Question of Choice? The Dynamics of Constitutional Change The Trends for Constitutional Reform Conclusion