Bastien François

The Sarkozy Constitution Publication date : February 19, 2009

In July 2008, a few months before its fiftieth anniversary, the Constitution of the Fifth French Republic underwent the most important reform in its history. More than one-third of its content was altered. Unlike the many constitutional revisions implemented since 1962, the present reform is more than a technical adjustment. Since it aims to respond to criticisms of how institutions actually function, it will require the creation of a new political system.

The recent reform was inspired by three concerns: rethinking the responsibilities of the President, who is the real head of the French government; re-establishing the power of Parliament, so it can challenge the all-powerful President; granting new rights to citizens, in compliance with international standards of the rule of law.

What can such a reform achieve? Have the goals pursued been attained? What aspects are truly innovative? What are the lacunae? What will be the consequences?

One of France's best — and most critical — constitutionalist evaluates the outcome of the great constitutional reform launched by President Sarkozy.

Point by point and article by article, the author examines what has been changed and what remains unchanged in the Constitution; he studies the consequences of the reform, as well as its failures and limitations.

“Every president has had his own reading of the state's institutions,” Jean-Louis Debré recently said. Nicolas Sarkozy has gone much further. A new Republic? A new regime? This book examines these crucial issues for the future of French political life.

A professor of political science at the University of Paris-I, Bastien François is the co-founder of the Convention for the Sixth French Republic. He is the author of Pour comprendre la Constitution européenne (2005) and La Constitution de la 6e République (2005).