Today in World History: October 4th

The Fifth French Republic, the modern French government, was created when the country adopted its current constitution on this day in 1958. Following the end of World War Two and the re-establishment of France as the Fourth Republic, French politics were dominated by a series of weak coalitions and minority governments. The political instability, along with the decolonization of French Africa, led to the outbreak of the Algerian War, which nearly developed into a full-out civil war as the French citizens were divided over the issue of maintaining or releasing their overseas possessions. Led by Charles de Gaulle, the French government began passing reforms, before finally passing an act dissolving the Fourth Republic in May of 1958. What followed in the new French constitution was a more powerful head of state, serving for seven years. The power to elect a President was also given to the French people in general elections, setting the stage for Charles de Gaulle’s rise to presidency, during which time he served for ten years before resigning his position.

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