French Authoritarian Constitutionalism and its Legacy

This chapter links Monarchic Constitutionalism to Bonapartism and Gaullism as forming part of a French tradition of “authoritarian constitutionalism”. It argues that the first Bonapartism (1799-1814) laid the foundation for Monarchic constitutionalism (1814 – 1848) which in turn did so for the second Bonapartism (1848 – 1870) and for Gaullism (1958 – 1969). It focuses on ‘constitutional moments’ and the question of constituent power, examining the initial ‘constitutional octroy’ following a coup, and, in the cases of Bonapartism and Gaullism, the use of plebiscite to legalize what could anachronistically be called today ‘unconstitutional’ constitutional revisions.