2008 | 6(89) | 34-57
Article title

AXIOLOGY OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FIFTH FRENCH REPUBILC (Aksjologia konstytucja V Republiki Francuskiej)

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This article deals with the axiology or the spirit of the Constitution of 1958. It originates from the assumption that the constitution establishing the Fifth Republic was a deliberately planned attempt of a complete recovery of the state, including in particular its accommodation to changing social and political circumstances of France and,after brief experiences of the Fourth Republic. The basis for proposed constructions was provided by the approval of a parliamentary system of government, which however did not mean simple repetition of the solutions having been brought by the Third and, then, the Fourth Republic. On the contrary, the authors of the constitution aimed at a far-reaching recovery and improvement of parliamentary system of government. Their basic idea was to establish a new constitution based on the strong foundations of parliamentary system, with the existence of a powerful and effective executive branch. This was, in their opinion, the precondition of implementation of its basic idea, called the 'régime d'équilibre et de collaboration des pouvoirs'. Immediately after its adoption, the Constitution was criticised, inter alia, for departing from the idea of parliamentary system, excessive exposition of the role of the executive power, degradation of a statute which was an act of a particular importance in France, or, finally, for the absence of rights and freedoms, and also because its language was not sufficiently juridical. There was also a controversy about the axiology of the Constitution, regarded by some as too eclectic, inconsistent and laconic, and by others as too shallow and reduced to a brief idea of a 'powerful executive'. An opinion was also expressed that, in principle, such axiology does not appear in the (formal) text of the Act of 1958. A wide range of views on the axiology of the Constitution of the Fifth Republic and the fact that we have to deal with an actual deficit of constitutional values is probably the result of the lack of a universally agreed definition of the concept of axiology of the constitution. This notion is often replaced with such words as 'spirit' of the constitution, its 'origins', 'roots', 'inspirations' or even 'ideology', or - to say it more cautiously - 'guiding principles'. So, there is no consensus on what, in fact, determines the axiology of the constitution. Hence, the phenomenon of axiology of the constitution of the Fifth Republic cannot, in principle, be reduced to one perspective. The system of values that is established by the constitution and, what is equally important, by use of which the sense of its provisions should be interpreted, is an absolute conglomeration. It is defined by the political situation existing in the moment of establishment of the Fifth Republic and the basic principles of the Gaullist doctrine vital to the rudiments of the constitution, and also by other views of the theory, usually including the idea of 'rénouverle' of the political system, and, finally, traditional principles of the French system of government, expressed explicitly in the text of the constitution. All of this allows us to reconstruct the axiology of the constitution establishing the system of government of the Fifth Republic. .
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  • Jaroslaw Szymanek, Uniwersytet Warszawski, Wydzial Dziennikarstwa i Nauk Politycznych, ul. Nowy Swiat 67, 00-927 Warszawa, Poland
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