The Fifth Republic

  • © Flickr - CC Eerko Vissering

  • © Flickr - CC Julian Escardo photography

The Fifth Republic

1958 to the present

The Fifth Republic started strongly with a new constitution proposed by General de Gaulle, who was elected president in 1958. A. Pinay introduced the new franc. M. Debré was Prime Minister. In black Africa, the colonies chose independence.

In 1961 the generals fomented an unsuccessful military putsch in Algiers. The Algerian war became a bloody one. Following the Evian accords, the FLN (the National Liberation Front) was to represent Algeria. De Gaulle then turned to his great plans for a united Europe and a Common Market. He was re-elected president of the Republic in 1965. The events of "May 1968" began at the University of Nanterre. Anarchy, strikes and "chienlit" [meaning someone in fancy-dress or havoc] as De Gaulle was nicknamed, marked the 68 uprising. M.Debré, A. Malraux, J.Chaban-Delmas, V. Giscard d'Estaing, E. Faure and G. Pompidou were getting themselves talked about on the political stage. De Gaulle resigned in 1969, leaving G. Pompidou as president. In 1974, he was followed by V. Giscard d'Estaing who would represent the government. In 1981, it was the turn of François Mitterand and then J. Chirac in 1995.

In terms of social change, there were advances for feminism with laws permitting abortion and the abolition of the death penalty (1981), but unemployment rose from 1973. Europe really settled down with the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), the reunification of Germany and the Maastricht "Yes" vote for Europe (1992). In full economic growth, the consumer society was strengthened.

Contemporary art advanced. Modern architecture could be seen in new towns and the construction of grand monuments like I.M. Peï's pyramid at the Louvre (1989). Lastly, the introduction of the euro on January 1, 2002 marked the start of this third millennium.