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Cohabitation: What is the role in political life in France and the United States?

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  1. Theoretical Framework
  2. The United States in decline?
  3. Challenging traditional stances
  4. Structural challenge: overcoming the hegemony
  5. The situation in China
  6. Tracks of thought
    1. Conflict
    2. Collapse of China
    3. Comparative Advantage

In the Constitution voted in 1958 working out the 5th Republic, there was never been any question of cohabitation. One evokes the capacities of the President of the Republic, those of the Prime Minister as well as the prerogatives of the Parliament and the Senate, which form with them both the National Assembly. But at any place in the legal text, the concept of cohabitation is not approached.

However, the writers of the Constitution were conscious that this situation, which consists in being found with a parliamentary majority and a presidential majority formed by two politically opposed parties, could theoretically occur. But the politicians who followed one another, the head of the various political parties between 1958 and 1986 could only imagine the consequences and try to establish which would be the power struggle between the two majorities.

The term of "cohabitation" emerges during the year 1983, two years after the presidential elections gained by François Mitterrand because the policy followed by the sudden Socialist government of many criticisms and the anticipated legislative elections are evoked by the opposition, in particular by Valery Giscard d'Estaing, Edouard Balladur and Jacques Chirac.

But it is into 1986 that the cohabitation is really put in practice for the first time, when the right-wing opposition gains the legislative elections. In the United States, this situation is much more present. Indeed, it very often arrives that the Congress and the US president are of opposite political tendency. The presidential regime which characterizes the United States belonged to the reasons why very often one finds a President democratic and a Republican majority in at least one of the rooms of the Congress, and vice versa.

Indeed, in such a mode, a Prime Minister does not exist, who would be responsible before the Parliament as it is the case in a parliamentary mode like France. When the political tendencies are thus opposed to the United States, one speaks about "divided government".

Since 1959, this situation occurred sixteen times, of which only once with a democratic President, knows that the duration of a mandate for a deputy sitting at the American Congress is only for two years. There exist differences between the way in which the cohabitation in France and the "divided government" in the United States function.

Tags: cohabitation; political life; France; United States

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