French Attitudes and British Expectations



These words were written on 24 June 1953 as the longest political crisis in the history of the Fourth Republic – it had lasted five weeks – was about to end in the formation of a new government. As André Siegfried later explained, there was no coherent majority in the predominantly right-wing National Assembly. Every time a government fell – a frequent occurrence – an ad hoc majority had to be cobbled together by the next coalition cabinet: not to support a particular party, but to endorse a programme embodying the lowest common denominator of diverse political objectives. This crisis had lasted longer than most because it had no single cause, only a multiplicityof conflicting grievances, some more urgent and important than others: ‘trois questions fondamentales, mettant chacune en cause l’intérêt national … politique économique … l’Europe … l’lndochine, ce boulet qu’on traîne avec une impatience croissante’.2


Prime Minister Foreign Minister Lower Common Denominator Military Effort French Attitude 
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© Sir James Cable 2000

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