Does the president have too much power in the Fifth Republic?

Ugo Pascolo

While the country is plunged into a political crisis following the use of 49.3 to adopt the unpopular pension reform, the question of the extent of the powers of the President of the Republic resurfaces. But for constitutionalist Anne-Charlène Bezzina, the problem is more about the use of the Constitution than the powers it confers.


Emmanuel Macron, President or Republican Monarch? The political crisis triggered by the forceps adoption of the pension reform, led by the highly contested article 49.3 of the Constitution, highlights the powers of the President of the Republic. A criticism that is far from new, since “since the first days of 1958 [l’instauration de la Cinquième République, nldr], […] we are told about a presidential monarchy”, recalls at the microphone of Europe 1 Anne-Charlène Bezzina, political scientist and constitutionalist.

“The Constitution is a tool”

However, “in the crisis we are experiencing, none of the president’s own powers which are enshrined in the text of the Constitution and which have made the monarchy cry so much have been used”. According to the specialist, “the problem is not so much what the text grants as power to the President of the Republic as in the way of using them. Let us never forget that the Constitution is a tool and it is the political power that will operate it.”

“Article 16 of the Constitution, for example, is a real presidential dictatorship provided for the most exceptional cases. Again, if it is misused, it can cause problems. I do not fundamentally believe in the makes the list of powers distributed by the Constitution problematic.”

In the endaccording to Anne-Charlène Bezzina, the source of the political crisis would therefore come from the use of powers which tends to “the gradual installation of a regime in which the president is the source of all decisions”.

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