A new constitution for France’s Fifth Republic was drafted by a committee headed by Gaullist Michel Debré. The new constitution was a hybrid of the presidential and parliamentary systems. It pruned back the powers of the two-chambered legislature and granted the president considerably more power than the presidents of previous regimes. But it also maintained a prime minister, who was chosen by the president yet needed the support of the legislature.
Perhaps because the first president was likely to be the charismatic de Gaulle, the constitution did not spell out the distribution of power between the president and prime minister. This ambiguity would create uncertainties later, but it also allowed for flexibility in situations in which the presidency and the legislature were controlled by different parties.
The constitution was approved by 80 percent of the voters in September 1958. The elections that followed gave a new Gaullist party a near majority in the legislature, while the left, which had opposed the new constitution, lost badly. Following procedures stipulated by the new constitution, which gave the right to choose the president to a college of local officials, de Gaulle, not surprisingly, was made president. De Gaulle chose Debré as his first prime minister. "France" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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