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University of Utah

Western Political Science Association

Gaullism without de Gaulle

Author(s): Frank L. Wilson
Source: The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Sep., 1973), pp. 485-506
Published by: University of Utah on behalf of the Western Political Science Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/446435
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Purdue University

INHIS exposition on charismatic authority, Max Weber describes how such

become routinized.l In the
extraordinary authority relationships fact, process
is not so much the routinization of charisma- which Weber defines as inher-
ently antiroutine - as its transformationinto some other form of authority which
is more readily transferred to successors.2 While the legitimacy of the charismatic
authority might erode without the leader's awareness, its transformationto a more
durable authority does not take place automatically or unconsciously. It occurs
only when leaders perceive the need to build new bases of authority and have the
political style and skill necessaryto do so.
Contemporary France offers an example of a mature democratic state which
has recently confronted the problems of transforming the charismatic authority of
an extraordinarypolitical leader into forms more readily employable by less extra-
ordinarymen. The sudden resignationof President Charles de Gaulle in April 1969
and his subsequent total withdrawal from politics had the potential of creating a
major succession crisis. From the very moment that Charles de Gaulle returned to
power in May 1958 and established the Fifth French Republic, a major question
in the minds of French and foreign observers was what would happen after de
Gaulle left power. Very few expected the political institutions of the Fifth Republic,
which were so clearly fashioned to fit de Gaulle's political talents and style, to persist
without immediate and radical changes once de Gaulle was removed from the
center stage of French politics. Even fewer thought that the Gaullist political move-
ment would long survive the disappearanceof its namesake.
This article focuses on developments within the Gaullist movement which
made possible its survival after de Gaulle. It attempts to explain the survival of a
political movement totally devoted to a single man after that leader disappears
from politics. It is not a complete explanation of the transformationfrom de Gaulle's
charismatic type of authority to the more prosaic rule of his successor. The reason
for the public's acceptance of the new leader and his new forms of authority is a
broader question beyond the scope of this article. However, the successful adapta-
tions within the governing Gaullist coalition no doubt contributed to the public's
acceptance of the new leader.
The period after the retirement or death of a strong leader is often a trying one
for political parties. In addition to the immediate problem of finding a successor,
the party may find additional problems stemming from the lasting imprint of the

NOTE: The author expressesappreciation to the Purdue Research Foundation for a summer
"XL" grant and an international travel grant which made possible work on this project.
Max Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, edited by Talcott Parsons
(New York: The Free Press, 1964), pp. 363-92 and From Max Weber: Essays in So-
ciology, edited by H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1968), pp. 245-52.
2 RobertC. Tucker, "The Theory of Charismatic Leadership," Daedalus, 97 (Summer 1968),

former leader'spersonalityon the party'sorganization, image, and style. The leader

has often shaped the party to fit his talents and preferences. For example, even the
venerable British Conservative party faced a difficult time adjusting to the retire-
ment of Winston Churchill and finding an effective successor.3 The adjustment to
the loss of the strong leader is even more acute when the party lacks deep historical
roots and the departed leader was the party's founder. A case in point is West
Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Under the leadership of Konrad
Adenauer, the CDU had developed as his personal political machine.4 In his
absence, the CDU experienced major difficulties in adjusting to politics without
Adenauer.5 Many of the older party stalwarts regarded the immediate successor,
Ludwig Erhard, as a usurper. Furthermore, both Erhard and his successor, Kurt
Kiesinger, were weak leaders who proved unable to establish control over the party
or to cope with a changing political context. In short, even under the best circum-
stances, the transition from a strong and popular leader is difficult for political
In the case of the Gaullist movement in France the prospects of surviving de
Gaulle ought to have been even more problematic. For one thing, rather than
starting with a single cohesive party, the Gaullist movement was a coalition of
political parties and mini-parties. The movement was dominated by the Union des
Democrates pour la Ve Republique (UDR) , but the much smaller R6publicains
Inddependants(RI) and still smaller groups jealously guarded their autonomy.?
None of these parties had been in existence for more than a dozen years and so their
durability had not been tested. Each of the elements in the coalition had politicians
with varied political backgrounds: former communists and socialists as well as men
whose previous political experience had been with parties of the far right. While the
Gaullist coalition was basically stable, its cohesion could not be taken for granted;
de Gaulle's presence was a major part of the cement that held together the coali-
tion. Secondly, most of the groups and individuals making up the Gaullist move-
ment came from the right and center of the political spectrum. Traditionally,
French parties of the right and center have been highly vulnerable to division and
indiscipline and have had only fleeting existences. It might readily be expected that
without the unifying force of de Gaulle's presence, there would be a revolt against
the strict discipline of the Gaullist movement and a return to the small parties of

8See R. T. McKenzie, British Political Parties (2nd ed.; New York: Praeger, 1964), pp.
579-94b, 631-34. McKenzie describesAnthony Eden's career as party leader as "prob-
ably the most disastrousin the modern history of the party." Harold MacMillan and
Sir Alec Douglas-Homefared little better.
4See Arnold J. Heidenheimer,Adenauer and the CDU: The Rise of the Leader and the Inte-
gration of the Party (The Hague: MartinusNijhoff, 1960).
s After his retirement as Chancellor in 1963, Adenauer remained chairman of the CDU for
three more years. His continued interferencein party affairs, and especially his efforts to
undermine the position of Ludwig Erhard, complicated the adjustment to the post-
Adenauer era.
' The Gaullist party was known successively as the Union la Nouvelle RJpublique, Union
Democratiquepour la Cinquieme Rdpublique,Union pour la Deflnse de la Republique,
and finally Union des Dimocrates pour la Ve RJpublique. For simplicity, the initials of
the last, UDR, will be used throughoutthis text.
'One source lists a total of 29 Gaullist organizations. Jean Charlot, Le Phenomene gaulliste
(Paris: Fayard, 1969), p. 188.

notables that have made up the French right and center in the past. Finally, the
Gaullist movement lacked a doctrine or a program. Its raison d'etre was to support
the action of de Gaulle, whatever it might be. The UDR and other elements of the
coalition had steadfastly resisted the urge to draft party programs in the fear that
such programsmight restrict the latitude of de Gaulle's action.
For these reasons, it was widely believed that the Gaullist movement could not
survive de Gaulle. French political commentators avidly gathered every shred of
evidence about internal dissidence to buttress their argument that the Gaullist edi-
fice would crumble once de Gaulle was gone. Opposition politicians spoke of the
"Gaullist parenthesis"as an aberration from normal politics that would disappear
with de Gaulle. Even among the Gaullist politicians there was considerable appre-
hension about the post-de Gaulle future.8
It is now obvious that those who predicted the immediate collapse of the Fifth
Republic and its supporting Gaullist political movement misjudged the durability
of de Gaulle's creations. Four years after de Gaulle's retirement the Gaullist move-
ment thrives. The coalition has been strengthened by the addition of a number of
centrist leaders formerly in the opposition. Party cohesion and discipline in the
National Assembly has been maintained despite the broader coalition which might
have been expected to weaken discipline.9 Gaullists registered modest gains in
biennial Senatorial elections and in the nationwide municipal elections of 1971 they
achieved significant gains-a goal that had eluded the Gaullists in the two previous
municipal campaigns of the Fifth Republic. Gaullist groups have recruited large
numbers of new members: the UDR now claims 200,000 members, making it sec-
ond only to the Communist party in membershipsize.10
The latest evidence of the vitality of the Gaullist movement was the 1973 legis-
lative elections. Despite a serious challenge from the left, the Gaullists retained con-
trol of the National Assembly. There was a drop in voter support for the Gaullists
(from 43.6 percent in 1968 to 38.0 percent in 1973) and a decline in the number
of seats they won (from 360 seats in the outgoing legislature to 268). However,
these comparative losses were due to an inflated victory in 1968 when the French
voters reacted to the violence and turmoil of the student riots and general strike of
May by voting Gaullist in June. A more accurate comparison can be made with the
1967 legislative elections. In those elections the Gaullists received about the same
share of the vote as in 1973 (38.1 percent) but won nearly 40 fewer seats (232 seats
in the National Assembly). At the polls, the Gaullists were doing well without
de Gaulle.

8 De Gaulle also expected the failure of his institutional reforms without his presence. See
Andr6 Malraux, Felled Oaks: Conversationwith de Gaulle (New York: Holt, Rinehart
and Winston, 1972), pp. 27, 30, 84, 106.
9 Preliminaryresults from a study in progressby Richard Wiste and the present author suggest
that Gaullist cohesion since de Gaulle's departure remains exceptionally high, only
slightly below that of the traditionallydisciplinedcommunistsand socialists.
Le Monde, September24, 1971. This figure seems accurate. One outside scholar placed the
numberof membersat 86,000 in 1963. Jean Charlot, L'UNR: Etude du pouvoir au sein
d'un parti politique (Paris: Armand Colin, 1967), p. 116. Since then the party has
greatly increasedits interest in gaining rank-and-filemembersand experiencedvery rapid
growth especially after 1968.

The Gaullists had not only survived de Gaulle, they had maintained their
primacy in the French political arena. The question is why they were so successful
in adapting to the loss of such a powerful and charismatic leader as de Gaulle. The
central argument of this article is that the key to the success is to be found primarily
in the political styles of two major Gaullist leaders- Charles de Gaulle and his
successor, Georges Pompidou - and in their relationships to the UDR and other
parts of the Gaullist movement. No doubt the succession was facilitated by other
factors. The Gaullists had a firm hold on political power and an overwhelming
majority in the National Assembly. Furthermore,the Fifth Republic's constitution
provides a dual executive with both president and prime minister exercising con-
siderable power. These constitutional provisions made possible the special division
of responsibilitiesthat ultimately gave the new leader a political base.l The transi-
tion to the post-de Gaulle era was easy and trouble free because effective control
over the partisan aspects of Gaullism had already transferredseveral years earlier
to Pompidou, the man who ultimately succeeded de Gaulle. This transformationof
the Gaullist movement successfullyprepared it for the post-de Gaulle era. Whether
the process of succession that worked to ease the transition from de Gaulle to Pom-
pidou will work in the future is a question which must also be raised.
Party transformationand adaptation are the products of the leaders who guide
these processes.2 The Gaullist movement has been shaped by de Gaulle and Pom-
pidou. The changes in this political force have reflected their conception of the
party, its place in politics, and their relationshipsto it. It changed not as the result
of unseen socioeconomic or political forces, but as a result of their manipulations of
it to fit their perceptions of the requirementsof modern French politics and to serve
their political ambitions. It is for this reason that our analysis will focus on these
two leaders, their links with the Gaullist movement, and their attempts to prepare
the UDR for Gaullism without de Gaulle.

It is ironic that Charles de Gaulle must be credited in French history as the

inspiration for the first party in French democratic experience to single-handedly
form a parliamentarymajority. It is ironic because more so than any other recent
French politician, de Gaulle was explicit in his dislike of parties and in his convic-
tion that parties were largely responsible for the political turmoil that France had
experienced. His marked disdain for political parties was exhibited in his earliest
writings. In La Discorde chez Pennemi, first published in 1924, de Gaulle pointed
to party conflicts as a major reason for the German inability to win World War I
in spite of materiel superiority.13 After World War II, de Gaulle made a similar
analysis of France's disastrous defeat in 1940, blaming the parties, their rivalries,
and their "futile maneuverings" for France's inability to respond to the threat of

"These provisions also contain the seeds of conflict between the two executive officers and a
potentiality of a constitutional crisis as will be explained below.
See Frank L. Wilson, The French Democratic Left, 1963-1969: Toward a Modern Party
System (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1971), pp. 13-15, 209-11. See also Joseph
A. Schlesinger, "Political Party Organization," in Handbook of Organizations, ed. James
G. March (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1965).

Naziism. His war memoirs are filled with criticism of the French parties and their
While leader of the Resistance, de Gaulle opposed the renewal of party life
and rejected suggestions that he create a new political party of the Resistance. He
viewed parties as unable to provide strong and effective government; he thought
that they would inevitably support narrow interestsrather than the national interest
as a whole. Typical of his attitude was this analysis of the place parties should have
in postwar France:
I was no less convinced that the nation required a regime whose power would be strong
and continuous. The parties were evidently unqualified to provide such power.... Although
some among them could obtain the votes of an important fraction of the citizens, not a single
one was thought of as representing public interest as a whole.... no organization commanded
either the power or the credit which would permit it to lay claim to national authority.
To the parties' factional character, which infected them with weakness, was added their
own decadence. ... No longer inspired by principles, no longer ambitious to proselytize since
they found no audiences on these grounds, they were inevitably tending to degradation,
shrinking until each became nothing more than the representation of a category of interests.
If the government fell into their hands again, it was certain that their leaders, their delegates
and their militant members would turn into professionals making a career out of politics.14

During the war, some had thought that de Gaulle's contempt for the existing
parties would lead him to capitalize on his popularity in order to create a new politi-
cal party. However, de Gaulle's popularity gave him a broad base of support from
all sections of French society and he was unwilling to sacrifice his position as
national leader and spokesman for all Frenchmen by becoming involved in party
politics. Furthermore,his political philosophy kept him from trying to create a new
political movement. He conceived his role in politics as aloof from the divisions and
disputes of the parties. He saw himself as the embodiment of the French national
interest as opposed to the particular and partisan interests represented by the par-
ties. By remaining above the petty conflicts and divisions of the parties, de Gaulle
felt he could avoid the problems of party fractionalization that had plagued earlier
French democratic regimes. He saw no need for a political party to support him-
self since he felt he could appeal directly to the people. He preferred such direct
appeals to seeking support through intermediaries such as parties.
When the parties regained control of politics after the war, de Gaulle resigned
as premier. Then, in 1947, de Gaulle attempted for the first and last time in his life-
time to create a political movement - the Rassemblement du Peuple Franfais
(RPF) .5 For the first and only time de Gaulle formally belonged to and presided
over a political party. In spite of the protestations by de Gaulle and other leaders
that the RPF was not another party but a massive patriotic rally of Frenchmen, the
RPF was clearly a political party. The RPF enjoyed spectacular successes in the
nationwide municipal elections held only a few months after its organization (about
35 percent of votes cast more than for any other party) and in the national legis-

13Charles de Gaulle, La Discorde chez l'ennemi (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1924).

Charles de Gaulle, The War Memoirs of Charles de Gaulle: Salvation. 1944-1946 (New
York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), pp. 271-72.
5 On the RPF, see Roy Pierce, "De Gaulle and the RPF - A Post-Mortem," Journal of Poli-
tics, 16 (February 1954), 96-118; and Christian Purtschat, Le Rassemblement du Peuple
Franqais 1947-1953 (Paris: Editions Cujas, 1965).

lative elections of 1951 (21.6 percent - second only to the communists). However,
these victories were deceptive. The RPF permitted its adherents to retain their
membershipsin other parties. As a result many politicians accepted the RPF label in
order to join the bandwagon but did not make a genuine commitment to Gaullist
principles or discipline.l6 Although the RPF gains were impressive, they were not
sufficient to bring de Gaulle back to power. As it became clear that de Gaulle's
return to power was not imminent, many RPF members returned to their old party
loyalties and were absorbedinto the parliamentarypractices of the Fourth Republic
which de Gaulle found so repugnant. The result was that in May 1953 de Gaulle
formally withdrew the right for anyone to use the RPF label in parliamentary or
electoral activities.l7 The RPF was not formally disbanded, but in fact it ceased to
The disappointing experience with the RPF reinforced de Gaulle's disdain
for parties. Even his own followers, organized into a political formation which he
himself headed, appeared vulnerable to the vices that he decried in other parties:
pusuit of narrow and selfish interests, disunity, indiscipline, and willing participants
in the making and breaking of cabinets. In his memoirs, de Gaulle makes clear his
scorn for those who "left the organization to which they owed their allegiance."
And he places on them the responsibilityfor the end of the RPF.18
In 1958, de Gaulle was returned to power by the old parties in an attempt to
unravel the Algerian imbroglio which had brought France to the verge of civil war.
Once in power, de Gaulle's reluctance to become involved in another political move-
ment - the memories of the failure of the RPF no doubt were still fresh - was
reinforced by his concept of the president's role as an arbiter who should be aloof
from partisan politics and special interests. He made no effort to solidify his hold
on power by creating a party; instead, he intended to seek direct public support
without the intermediaryof a political party.
In the fall of 1958, as the first legislative elections of the Fifth Republic
approached, some Gaullist leaders created a new party so that voters desiring to
support de Gaulle could do so.'9 The new party, the Union pour la Nouvelle Repub-
lique (later, the Union des Democrates pour la Ve Republique--UDR) was
officially organized in October 1958 with Roger Frey as its secretary-general. De
Gaulle had opposed the formation of this party. In addition to his fears of a recur-
rence of the RPF betrayals,he feared that the new party might be used by those who
were committed to keeping Algeria as an integral part of France to exert pressureon
him. Consequently, in its first few months, de Gaulle did little to promote the

" For many politicians of the right and center whose own parties had tarnished reputations
as a result of wartime collaborationwith Vichy, the RPF served as a patriotic vehicle for
their political reentries.
See de Gaulle's statement of May 6, 1953 in Charlesde Gaulle, Discours et messages (Paris:
Plon, 1970), II, 580-82.
"Charles de Gaulle, Memoirs of Hope: Renewal and Endeavor (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1971), p. 16.
'On the founding of the UDR see Chariot, L'UNR, pp. 39-41; and Jacques Soustelle,
L'Espirancetrahi(Paris:Editionsde l'Alma,1962),pp. 71-73.

UDR's success.20 He chose an electoral system- the single member district, two
ballot system- which was favored by the leaders of the older parties and opposed
by the Gaullists because it was thought least likely to result in a landslide for a new
party. He urged that candidates not use his name "even in the form of an adjective"
during the 1958 election campaign. He took no part in the 1958 elections claiming
that "the mission that the country has given me makes it impossible for me to take
part in the election."21 Finally, it is not clear that de Gaulle was entirely pleased
by the impressivesuccess of the new party in the elections. In his memoirs, he notes
that the electoral results had surpassed his hopes. And one source quotes him as
saying at the time of the elections: "Obviously,I would have liked a few more social-
ists to balance the legislature."22
Although de Gaulle did refrain from publicly endorsing the new Gaullist party
and did nothing to help it win public acceptance, he was ready to interfere in the
internal politics of the UDR in order to shape the party according to his desires.
Most importantly, de Gaulle did not want his supporters locked into a party com-
mitted to an unconditional insistence on retaining Algeria as part of France. He
wanted his supportersto remain as uncommitted as possible in order to enhance his
flexibilityin dealing with the critical problem of Algeria. As the new party emerged,
de Gaulle exerted influence on key individuals in the UDR to prevent the party
from becoming the political voice of those who advocated the continuation of the
Algerian war, to block the creation of a party presidency (which would likely have
gone to Jacques Soustelle - a determined advocate of Algerie Franfaise), and to
prevent the alliance of the party with the traditional conservative forces.23 Nearly
all of this was accomplished indirectly by close associates of de Gaulle. It was
generally sufficient for one of them to suggest that the General's desires were this or
that for his desiresto be fulfilled.
Even after the UDR had successfullyproved its loyalty to de Gaulle during the
resolution of the Algerian War and had demonstrated its discipline and cohesive-
ness in parliament, de Gaulle still maintained his distance from the party. He ex-
plained his reticence toward involvement in a party in this way: "To govern through
a party, Napoleon once said, is to become dependent on it sooner or later. I will not
be caught in that."24 As a result, he left the duties of organizing and managing the
party to his prime minister and party officials. In the division of responsibilitiesbe-
tween the president and the prime minister, it was the task of the prime minister
to maintain day to day contact with the party.25 He himself avoided all public con-
tacts with UDR officials.26 He even insisted that those called to serve as ministers

20On de Gaulle'sactivitiesto hinderthe UDR, see PhilipWilliams,FrenchPoliticiansand

Elections1951-1969 (Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress,1970), pp. 101-3. See
alsoSoustelle,op. cit.,pp. 67-68.
21De Gaulle,Discourset messages,III, 52. See alsode Gaulle,Memoirsof Hope,pp. 34-35.
2PierreViansson-Ponte, Histoirede la ripubliquegaullienne(Paris:Fayard,1970), I, 80-81.
3On de Gaulle'sinvolvement,see Chariot,L'UNR,pp. 29-57; Soustelle,op. cit.; and Louis
De Gaulleet l'Alglrie(Paris:Fayard,1964).
"Charlot,Le Ph6nomene gaulliste,p. 139.
See de Gaulle'spressconferencein September1968for a clearstatementof thisdivisionof
Le Monde,September9, 1968.
X De Gaulleregularly respondedin writingto expressions of bestwishesand supportsent by
the UDR on his birthdays,at New Years.etc. See Charlot,L'UNR,pp. 263, 268.

who were also members of the UDR secretariat resign from their party posts to
emphasize de Gaulle's and the government's independence from the party.27
Similarly, de Gaulle avoided the management of relations between the various
parties making up the government coalition. Here again, it was the task of the
prime minister to maintain good relations among members of the coalition. At
times, this was a very difficult responsibilityas the smaller Independent Republi-
cans, led by the ambitious minister of Finance, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, were
attempting to develop their own party structures and enlarge their position in the
coalition.28 Occasionally, one of the coalition partners would appeal to de Gaulle
for help in disputes over the political action of the majority. However, de Gaulle
rarely intervened, leaving such matters to be resolved by the prime minister and
party leaders.
Never during the Fifth Republic did de Gaulle attend a Gaullist party func-
tion of any kind.29 Although he made election eve appeals in 1962, 1967, and 1968
to vote for candidates who would support his actions and the institutions of the
Fifth Republic,30he refrained from specificallyendorsing the UDR or other major-
ity parties. In fact, even when there were no electoral considerations, de Gaulle
did not mention the party by name in public. His most explicit public reference to
the UDR came in a press conference in 1967 when he noted the ardent and solemn
commitment to the institutions of the Fifth Republic that was demonstrated by
"those meeting at Lille" - where the UDR had recently held a national congress.31
In at least one instance, de Gaulle's aloofness from his own party almost ended
in a major political defeat. During the 1965 presidential election all candidates
avoided tying their campaigns to any single party.32 A wise course for candidates
whose parties had only narrow electoral base, the separation of the party from
de Gaulle's campaign deprived him of needed electoral assistance. His campaign
was managed by the Association national pour le soutein de Faction de general de
Gaulle, a committee with only indirect links with the UDR. The UDR did not
formally endorse de Gaulle, although its support of his candidacy was obvious. De
Gaulle largely ignored the contest, busying himself with the job of being president.

2 However, he did not compel Valery Giscard d'Estaing to resign from the presidencyof the
Independent Republicans when he returned to the cabinet as Minister of Finance in
28On the RIs, see Jean-Claude Colliard, Lis Republicains Ind6pendants; Valry Giscard
d'Estaing (Paris: PressesUniversitairesde France, 1971).
2 De Gaulle did send membersof his staff to UDR meetings. However, it is indicative of the
distance that he insisted on maintaining between himself and the party that the presence
of these observerswas not publicly announced. Only in the last few months of his rule
were the representativesof the presidentformallyacknowledgedat UDR meetings.
"0In 1962, de Gaulle called for support for those who voted yes in the prior referendumon
the popular election of the president. De Gaulle, Discours et messages, IV, 42-44. In
1967 he urged votes for those who will support the Fifth Republic and his action. Ibid.,
V, 147-49. In 1968, he called for an "assemblycapable of backing the necessarypolicy
with a strong, constant and coherentmajority."
31Ibid., V, 247.
'2See Roger-Gerard Schwartzenberg,La Campagne prisidentielle de 1965 (Paris: Presses
Universitairesde France, 1967), passim.; and Centre d'Etude de la Vie Politique Fran-
caise, L'Election presidentielledes 5 et 19 dicembre 1965 (Paris: Armand Colin, 1970),
pp. 41-45, 107-9, 139-40, 188-92.

He did not even use all of the free television and radio time allotted him and refused
to allow party leaders to use this time. He prohibited Gaullist leaders from involv-
ing themselves or the party in the campaign. For example, at the largest pre-
election rally, UDR leaders were kept on the sidelines; the speakerswere non-party
Gaullists such as Andre Malraux and Francois Mauriac. It was only after the dis-
couraging results of the first ballot forced an embarrassingand unexpected run-off
between de Gaulle and Francois Mitterrand, the candidate of the left, that de
Gaulle permitted the Gaullist party to use its full resources in the election. Even
then, it was government ministers, not party leaders who entered the campaign.
When faced with a political crisis, such as the attempted military coups of
1960 and 1961 or the student riots and general strike of May-June 1968, de Gaulle
did not turn to his party for support. Instead, he appealed for general public support
and counted on the spontaneously organized "committees for the defense of the
Republic" for mass street politics when needed. These committees, whose volun-
teers were committed to the physical as well as the verbal defense of the regime, had
no formal ties with the UDR or other Gaullist political parties although the local
level leadership sometimes overlapped. In some ways, these committees were re-
vivals of World War II Resistance bands, with a special blend of old camaraderie,
secrecy, and marginal legality.33 What is significant is that de Gaulle relied upon
non-party sourcesfor mass action in crisissituations.
In summary, de Gaulle did not like political parties, even his own. His mistrust
of their tendency toward involution and his belief that his role should be that of a
leader above politics led him to avoid personal involvement in the political move-
ment that bore his name. He was, as one analyst notes, a political activist for France
not for a political party.34 De Gaulle was clearly the leader of the majority. There
can be no doubt about his ability to dominate the UDR and the Gaullist coalition.
By choice, however, he refused to exercise this influence in relation to internal party
and coalition matters. There was some ambivalence in this attitude toward party
politics that was revealed in his occasional meddling in the internal affairs of the
UDR and the Gaullist coalition. But such interference was rare, always indirect,
and usually only in reference to very important issues. Most party matters did not
attract his attention and were left to others. The final evidence of de Gaulle's dis-
dain for even the Gaullist party came in the memoirs he wrote after his retirement.
One reviewer notes:
It is surprising, too, that the "Gaullists" as such do not find their way into this book.
The faithful servants are honored with a passing mention, rarely with a word of praise. ....
Not a word of thanks to the Gaullist UNR partisans, militants or converts. They are not
even mentioned. The party might as well not have existed in the aftermath of the 1962
general election. Such is the impression that emerges from The Effort.35

38Little has been written on these committees. They are reputed to attract adventurers and
those on the margins of acceptable society. For an "expose" of uncertain reliability of
one such committee, see Pierre Poilban, Le Cas du CDR du Calvados (Paris: Editions
Ana, 1970).
Chariot, Le Phenomene gaulliste, p. 157.
s Pierre Viansson-Ponte, in Le Monde Weekly, April 1-7, 1971.


In the first few months of the UDR's existence, there was a major debate
within the party over its relationship to the government.36 The issue was whether
the UDR should develop policies and positions which would differentiateit from the
government or should pledge itself to the unconditional defense of the government.
The debate centered on the choice between the traditional French model of a
party/government separation or the British model of party government. Under the
Fourth Republic, the French model was a virtual necessity since the multiplicity
of small parties led to coalition governments that were clearly based on compromise.
Under such circumstances,each party needed to assert its own policies which might
differ from the compromise choice of a coalition government in which it partici-
pated. The electoral success of the Gaullists in the Fifth Republic made possible
government dominated by a single party. Some Gaullists still insisted that the party
should be free to develop positions which might differ from the government. Others
argued unconditional support of de Gaulle and his government was necessaryboth
out of loyalty to de Gaulle and out of the need to make the new institutions of the
Fifth Republic work smoothly. At the party's first national congress, held in
November 1959, the party opted for the notion of unconditional support of the
government. Although this decision has been contested from time to time, it still
reflectsthe party'sattitude toward governmentswhich it dominates.
This decision made the UDR the government party so long as de Gaulle or
a Gaullist successor was president and so long as the party had the necessary
strength in the National Assembly to lead the government coalition. Since de
Gaulle insisted on maintaining his distance from the party, the way was open for
the prime minister to become the effective leader of the UDR. With the party
committed to the unconditional support of the government, the leader of the govern-
ment or the prime minister naturally could be regarded as the party leader. The
first prime minister of the Fifth Republic, Michel Debre, did not take advantage
of this opportunity. This was partly due to the tremendous upheavals that the party
was experiencing as a consequence of division over the Algerian question and partly
because Debre shared de Gaulle's desire to keep the state above party politics.
Georges Pompidou, however, took full advantage of the situation and used it to
build a political base that brought him into the Elysees Palace as de Gaulle's suc-
At first glance, Pompidou's background seemed an unlikely one for a man
hoping to become a powerful influence in Gaullist politics.37 He had few of the
credentials believed to be important among Gaullists. Although his official biogra-
phy claims that he served as a liaison with the Resistance while teaching high
school, he was not a Resistance hero.38 He was not closely linked to the Roman
Catholic Church; a main bastion of Gaullist electoral support. Indeed, he was sus-

8 Charlot, L'UNR, pp. 85-111.

For biographies of Pompidou, see Merry Bromberger, Le Destin secret de Georges Pompidou
(Paris: Fayard, 1965); and Pierre Rouanet, Pompidou (Paris: Grasset, 1969).
8 Rouanet, op. cit., pp. 43-47.

pect in the eyes of many convinced Catholics since he was a product of public rather
than parochial schools and had been a teacher in a public high school.
Pompidou was more a bureaucrat than a politician. Since 1944, he had served
on several occasions as head of de Gaulle's personal staff. This gave him direct
daily contact with de Gaulle, but little actual political involvement. He served as
de Gaulle's aide on the General's request and returned to private life as rapidly as
possible. He spurned opportunities to become more deeply involved in politics.
For example, during the early years of the RPF Pompidou was head of de Gaulle's
staff but he did not join the RPF and declined an offer to run for parliament in
In 1958, de Gaulle returned to power and once again Pompidou, by then a
director of the Rothschild banks, was called to again head de Gaulle's personal
cabinet. During the few months that he was assisting de Gaulle, he still did not
exhibit any political ambitions. He was not involved in the founding of the UDR
and did not join once it was organized. Twice, in 1959 and 1962, he declined de
Gaulle's offers of ministerial posts. When he left de Gaulle's service to return once
again to his private career, he did accept appointment to the advisory constitutional
council, a body with little political visibility or importance. Back in the business
world, Pompidou maintained regular personal contacts with de Gaulle. From time
to time he carried out delicate assignmentsfor de Gaulle, including a series of secret
negotiations with Algerian rebel leaders.
As the Algerian conflict finally ended de Gaulle called on Pompidou to be
prime minister in April 1962. Charged with the duties of heading the day to day
conduct of government and of defending the government's policies before parlia-
ment, Pompidou had little political experience to help him. He was not a member
of parliament; in fact, he had never even run for public office. He had had no
previous ministerial experience. He was not a member of the UDR or any other
political party. His disinterest in politics may have enhanced his image in the eyes
of de Gaulle but it left him with little public exposure. At the time of his appoint-
ment, he was virtually unknown to the general public as well as to many of the
The UDR had suffered severe internal divisions over the Algerian problem
and continuing tensions produced by Debre's style of leadership. Pompidou's
appointment as prime minister, however, was not welcomed by the rank and file
Gaullists since they regarded him as a technocrat rather than as a dedicated and
loyal party man. During the first few years as prime minister, Pompidou gradu-
ally became more and more deeply involved in partisan politics. At first his involve-
ment was with the ministers and members of parliament, not with the parties.
Then, in order to repair the strained relations between the government and its
supportersin the National Assembly,Pompidou increased his contacts with Gaullist
deputies. Through dinners, cocktail parties, and attendance at caucuses of the

9Pompidou'slack of politicalexperiencewas interpretedby someto be partof the evidence

of a generaldepoliticizationof Frenchpoliticallife. On the problemof depoliticiza-
tion in France, see Georges Vedel, ed., La Dipolitisation, mythe ou realiti? (Paris:
ArmandColin, 1962).

Gaullist deputies, he began to build greater support for himself and the government.
However, he still kept party activities at a minimum. He did not join the
UDR, nor did he meddle in its affairs. In the referendum and legislative elections
held during the fall of 1962, Pompidou took part in devising the UDR campaign
strategy. But he did not have a prominent role in the actual public campaigns.
More familiar and seasoned Gaullist politicians played the leading parts: Debre,
Jacques Chaban-Delmas, Andre Malraux, etc. Pompidou was not even a candidate
in these legislative elections. He remained sufficiently aloof from the UDR that
the only television and radio speech he made was not from the UDR's portion of
free broadcast time.40
By 1965, Pompidou's political ambitions had begun to develop and he saw the
possibilityof a run at the presidencyin the elections to be held at the end of that year
should de Gaulle choose not to run. However, Pompidou was in a difficult position
since de Gaulle had decided not to declare publicly or even to his closest associates
whether or not he would run for reelection until a month before the polling day.
In the meantime, he gave contradictoryindications about his intentions both in pub-
lic and to his associates. If Pompidou were to campaign actively he would antag-
onize loyal Gaullists and face embarrassmentshould de Gaulle decide to seek re-
election. On the other hand, if he did not campaign and de Gaulle later opted for
retirement, he would lack a well developed public image and would have only a
month to catch up with candidates who had been campaigning hard for several
months.41 Pompidou's solution was to avoid open campaigning but to increase his
public exposure through involvement in the municipal elections (when for the first
time he ran successfullyfor elected office) and through state visits to various regions
of the country.
Once de Gaulle announced his candidacy, Pompidou willingly gave his full
support. In line with de Gaulle's decision to conduct a low profile, nonpartisan
campaign, Pompidou played only a minor part in the first ballot campaign. How-
ever, for the run-off election, Pompidou took the lead in a vigorous effort of the
government ministers and the UDR to assure de Gaulle's reelection. Pompidou
shaped strategy, arranged financing, coordinated propaganda, and supervised the
rapid mobilization of the party for the two weeks of campaigning before the second
ballot. He could justifiablyshare credit with de Gaulle for the victory.
From this point on, Pompidou was deeply involved in Gaullist politics. He
quickly emerged as the acknowledged leader of the UDR and of the Gaullist coali-
tion. No longer aloof from partisan matters, Pompidou began attending and pre-
siding over meetings of the UDR executive committees. He increased his appear-
ances on television and made well publicized tours of the provinces. With de
Gaulle still aloof from partisan matters, Pompidou became the dominant and con-
trolling figure in the party and the Gaullist coalition. In a year, from the spring of

40 On the 1962 elections, see Fran?ois Goguel et al., La R6f6rendum d'octobre et les ilections
de novembre 1962 (Paris: Armand Colin, 1965), pp. 51-167.
41Polls taken in 1964 indicated that if de Gaulle did not run, Pompidou would not do well
against a leftwing candidate. One poll (May 1964) showed Gaston Defferre - then a
declared candidate - drawing 29 percent of the vote and Pompidou 21 percent with
11 percent to others and 39 percent uncertain. Sondages, 1964, No. 3, pp. 24-25.

1965 to early 1966, Pompidou had developed from a largely non-political prime
minister who was de Gaulle's agent into a powerful political leader with demon-
strated electoral skills and public appeal.
It should be emphasized that this transformationof Pompidou was approved
by de Gaulle. He had encouraged Pompidou to get greater public exposure and
was sufficiently disinterested in party affairs to let Pompidou extend his activities
in the UDR. There is evidence to suggest that de Gaulle had himself begun to
think of Pompidou as his most likely successor.42 It is also likely that Pompidou
received a mandate from de Gaulle at this time to groom himself for the presi-
dency.43 De Gaulle's followers, ministers, deputies, and party members, were much
more concerned with what would happen after de Gaulle than was de Gaulle and
for the most part they welcomed Pompidou's emeregence as heir apparent. Their
anxieties about the future of Gaullism and their search for a successorto de Gaulle
facilitated Pompidou's rapid consolidation of power in a party to which he still did
not formally belong.
With Pompidou's assumption of control, the UDR found itself for the first
time with a genuine party leader. De Gaulle, of course, was still the paramount
leader to whom the party owed unconditional loyalty. But de Gaulle abstained
from most party affairs. There was no party president and the secretary general
was usually not a top-level political personality. The consolidation of the powers
of the prime minister with the powers derived from leadership of the largest party
brought the UDR close to the British model of party leadership where the party
leader is that party'sprime minister designate.
The extent of the change in Pompidou's new role as majority leader can be
illustrated by contrasting his activities in the legislative elections of 1962 and 1967.44
In 1962, he assisted in drafting the general electoral strategy but his most important
activity was gathering campaign funds from his connections in the financial and
business world. In 1967, the whole campaign was under his immediate direction.
He devised the broad strategy and successfully fought for its acceptance by the
UDR and other elements of the majority. On his insistence, each district had only
one official Gaullist candidate agreed upon by all the elements of the majority
(UDR, RI, and others). In 1962, candidates were designated by the UDR secre-
tariat; five years later they were endorsed by a committee headed by Pompidou.
In 1962, Pompidou made only a single campaign addresson television and generally
remained in the background. In 1967, he made three major addresseson national
television, participated in numerous radio interviews, and twice confronted leaders
of the opposition in widely publicized face-to-face debates. His impact on the cam-
paign was such that he was clearly the most prominent single personality, outstrip-
ping not only his rivals in the attention he received from the media but also de

4 See Viansson-Ponte,Histoire de la R6publiquegaullienne, II, 235.

4 This was
suggested to the author in an interview with a prominentGaullist very close to de
Gaulle and somewhathostile to Pompidou,May 1973.
" For the 1967 UDR campaign see Centre d'Etude de la Vie Politique Francaise,Les Elections
legislatives de mars 1967 (Paris: Armand Colin, 1970), pp. 19-44, 151-79, and passim.
See also Alain Lancelot, "Les Electionslegislatives des 5 et 12 mars 1967," Projet, No.
28 (May 1967).

Gaulle.45 It became a highly personalized campaign pitting Pompidou as repre

sentative of the Gaullists versus the leading personalities of the opposition: Fran-
cois Mitterrand, Pierre Mendes-France,Jean Lecanuet.
The 1967 elections gave further evidence of Pompidou's skills as a campaigner.
The Gaullists obtained 1.8 million more votes than in 1962 pushing their share
of the vote from 36.3 percent in 1962 to 38.1 percent in 1967. On the other hand,
the Gaullists lost seats in the National Assembly because of the unity of the left-
wing opposition in the run-off elections. The result was that the UDR and the RI
fell slightly short of an absolute majority in the new National Assembly. The Gaul-
lists' hold on power was not threatened since they could count on the votes of sev-
eral centrists and independents. But it did alert the Gaullists to the need for further
penetration of the electorate.
In the aftermath of the elections, Pompidou used the near defeat as a prod for
further party development. He strengthened his hold on the UDR by having the
party replace its secretary general with a collegial secretariat of five men, none of
whom could claim overall direction of the party. A few months later, Pompidou
was forced to abandon this format when the party congress, moved by a spirit of
democratization as well as by some Gaullists who resented Pompidou's ascendancy,
insisted that there be a secretary general elected by the party's central committee.
But this was not a major set-back for Pompidou. When the central committee met
to elect the party secretary general, it obligingly elected Pomidou's man, Robert
Under Pompidou's guidance the party began to prepare for de Gaulle's depar-
ture. He pushed for reforms that would change the party from a periodic assem-
blage of deputies and ministers into a broad-based electoral machine.4 Pompidou
pressed for greater party activity at all levels and increased recruitmentof members.
UDR federations were organized in all departments and local units were formed
in most cities. In some cases the new organizations simply formalized the ad hoc
groups of Resistance workers who had informally championed the Gaullist cause
in the past. In other cases, new Gaullists with no Resistance ties were recruited to
organize the local party units. Under Pompidou's direction, attempts were also
made to win over local elected officials and other notables. The fruits of this policy
were evident in 1968 when many previously uncommitted local notables rallied to
the Gaullistsin the aftermath of the "events"of May and June.
Pompidou had another opportunity to demonstrate his electoral skills in the
legislative elections brought on by the student riots and general strike of May-June
1968. It was Pompidou who had urged a very reluctant de Gaulle to dissolve the
National Assembly and call for new elections as a means of resolving the crisis.47
This approach quickly succeeded in breaking the general strike and restoringorder.

Ibid., pp. 253-75.
4 See Jean Chariot, "L'Apris-gaullisme,"Revue Franfaise de Science Politique, 18 (1968),
68-76, Chariot, Le Phlnomene gaulliste, and Alain Lancelot, "Elections cantonales et
implantationdu gaullisme,"Projet, No. 45 (May 1970), 593-96.
,7 For reliable accounts of de Gaulle's reluctance and Pompidou'sinsistence on dissolution, see
Viansson-Ponte,Histoire de la Republiquegaullienne, II, 520-42.

Furthermore,it set the stage for the Gaullists'- and Pompidou's- most spectacu-
lar electoral success. Again, Pompidou organized and directed the Gaullist election
campaign and was the most prominent Gaullist campaigner. Again, the Gaullists
increased their share of the vote this time to 43.6 percent or 5.5 percent above the
1967 figure. This time the Gaullists succeeded in getting an overwhelming majority
in the National Assembly: the UDR alone won 296 of the 487 total seats; the RI
added 64 more to the majority coalition.48
It was at this point that de Gaulle chose to place Pompidou "in the reserve
of the Republic" to await destiny. Maurice Couve de Murville, another essentially
apolitical Gaullist, was named the new prime minister. By this time, however, Pom-
pidou was firmly entrenched as de Gaulle's heir apparent and as leader of the Gaul-
list movement. He was a proven campaigner, a capable political and governmental
leader. While Pompidou withdrew from party affairs for the next few months, the
party was still his to control if and when he so desired. He had gained control of
the UDR and directed it in making the transformationsnecessary for its survival
after de Gaulle. He had brought new people into politics who owed their careers
in the UDR and in parliament to him. He had won the allegiance of most of the
"barons" of Gaullism, including Debre, Chaban-Delmas, Olivier Guichard, and
Roger Frey. He simply had to bide his time until de Gaulle departed from the
political scene.
There was the danger that Pompidou's hold over the party and his favorable
public image might weaken if he had to wait too long. There was also the danger
that de Gaulle might publicly name another man as his preferred successor. If
the new prime minister, Couve de Murville, had had sufficient time to build his
own political base or if de Gaulle had designated someone else as his successor,
Pompidou's presidential aspirationsprobably would have been destroyed. However,
neither danger materialized. Less than a year later, de Gaulle quietly resignedwhen
the voters rejected his referendum reforming the Senate and decentralizinggovern-
ment. His retirement was complete; he refused to make any comment whatsoever
on politics.
Without meeting opposition from within the Gaullist movement, Pompidou
declared his candidacy for the office of President. His only real Gaullist rival, RI
president Valery Giscard d'Estaing, had destroyed his own hopes of succeeding de
Gaulle by campaigning against the referendum. After a brief flirtation with the
possibility of running himself or presenting some other alternative candidate, Gis-
card found little support even among his own followers. Within a few days, Giscard
and his RI followers came out for Pompidou.49 Unlike de Gaulle in 1965, Pompi-
dou was formally endorsed by the UDR, the RI, and other elements of the majority.

8 On the 1968 elections, see Francois Goguel, "Les Elections lgislatives des 23 et 30 juin
1968," Revue Franfaise de Science Politique, 18 (1968), 837-58; and Alain Lancelot,
"Les /lections des 23 et 30 juin 1968." Projet, No. 28 (September-October 1968), 935-
4 See
Colliard, Les Rdpublicains Indlpendants, pp. 175-85; and Roger-G6rard Schwartzen-
berg, La Guerre de succession (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1969), pp.

Early polls showed him trailing his chief opponent, Alain Poher, the interim presi-
dent, but Pompidou rallied and won an easy second ballot victory.50
As president, Pompidou attempted to follow de Gaulle's model by assuming
a position above partisan conflict. In his first press conference as president, he
seemingly abandoned his party ties and said that it was the prime minister'srespon-
sibility to organize the majority.51 In practice, it was difficult for Pompidou, who,
after all, had spent over four years building the UDR into a well-organized and
electorally successful party, to remain aloof from party affairs. Pompidou lacked
de Gaulle's special aura of authority among Gaullists, but he did command the
allegiance and support of large numbers of younger deputies and party leaders who
owed their parliamentaryand party positions to him. It is not surprisingthat Pom-
pidou was unwilling to risk the loss of this important source of political power by
severing his ties with the party. The result was the shifting of partisan political
leadership from the prime minister to the president, or more precisely the retention
of that leadership by Pompidou as he shifted from the one political post to the
In contrast to de Gaulle, Pompidou was very deeply interested and involved
in party matters. This involvement continued while he was president. He met
periodically in joint sessions with heads of the various parties making up the gov-
ernment coalition. These meetings, held at the presidential palace, included lead-
ing ministers, parliamentary leaders, and party secretaries from the UDR, the RI,
and the Center for Progress and Democracy (CDP), which had rallied to the
majority at the time of Pompidou's election. Such meetings were conducted by
the prime minister when de Gaulle was president. Representativesfrom the presi-
dential staff attended UDR party meetings, were formally recognized, and sat in
honored positions on the podium. During de Gaulle's presidency,presidential aides
periodically attended UDR meetings only as unofficial observers who remained
formally unrecognizedin the background.
The selection of the UDR party secretary general offers another example of
the shift of party leadership from the prime minister to the president. Under de
Gaulle, the selection of party officials within certain broad limits was left to the
party and ultimately came under the prime minister's control. When Pompidou
assumed the presidency, the naming of top-level UDR officials including the secre-
tary general remained under his control. Pompidou's appointee as UDR secretary
general in 1967 (Robert Poujade) was held over in spite of the fact that he was
not an enthusiastic supporter of the new prime minister, Jacques Chaban-Delmas.

s0On the presidentialcampaign, see Schwartzenberg,op. cit.; Jean and Monica Chariot, "Les
Campagnesde GeorgesPompidouet Alain Poher,"Revue Franfaise de Science Politique,
20 (April 1970), 224-48; and Elijah Ben-Zion Kaminsky, "The Selection of French
Presidents,"paper delivered to the American Political Science Association annual meet-
ing, September 1971.
51Le Monde, July 12, 1969.
s2This shift of partisan political power paralleled a shift in political power away from the
prime minister as well. Pompidou has been a more activist president and has kept a
broader range of policy issues under his immediate control than de Gaulle. That this
shift was not perceived by the public is indicated in a 1971 poll. Of those polled, 56
percent thought that the prime minister then had more freedom of action than under
de Gaulle; only 8 percent thought he had less. Sondages, 1971, No. 1 and 2, pp. 42-43.

There were some rumors that during the summer of 1970 he had participated in a
whisper campaign among hardline Gaullists directed against the prime minister.
When he resigned in 1971 to accept a ministerial post, the new party secretarygen-
eral, Rene Tomasini, was clearly Pompidou's choice and not the choice of his prime
minister. Tomasini had been publicly critical of Chaban-Delmas' leadership53and
was one of those rumored to be a part of the whisper campaign against the prime
minister. Further evidence of Pompidou's involvement in Tomasini's selection can
be seen in the fact that just prior to his designation as the "official" candidate,
Tomasini was summoned to the presidential palace.4 Similarly, when Tomasini
resigned in 1972, the new UDR secretary general, Alain Peyrefitte, was also desig-
nated by Pompidou.
Pompidou has tried to remain publicly aloof from the party. On several occa-
sions he has insisted that the prime minister is responsiblefor partisan matters. The
reason for this reluctance openly to admit his partisan intervention is to be found
in the constitutional description of the French president as an arbiter. Since he is
to "ensure by his arbitration, the regular functioning of the governmental authori-
ties" (Article 5), the president needs to be free of partisan attachments. Further-
more, overt partisan commitment could be interpreted as an unacceptable break
with de Gaulle'sprinciples of leadershipand government.
In an attempt to maintain the guise of partisan aloofness, Pompidou has argued
that there is more than one kind of electoral majority. There is a "presidential
majority" which brought him to the presidency and which he naturally heads.
There are also local majorities and legislative majorities which may or may not
parallel the presidential majority.55 The presidential majority is supposedly very
broad including all political forces and individuals who supported his election
and/or accepted his presidential leadership. The legislative majority is narrower
encompassing those elements in the parliament which support the government. Its
leader is the prime minister. In fact, the distinction between the presidential and
parliamentary majorities is largely a myth. The two are identical in composition
as the Chaban-Delmas and Messmer governments included leaders from all signifi-
cant political groups which had supported Pompidou's election. This distinction
has been used as a convenient way of perpetuating the impressionof an aloof presi-
dent with a basis of supportbroader than any narrowpartisan loyalties.56
The dual executive of the Fifth Republic worked well with de Gaulle as presi-
dent because his charismatic authority was not threatened by the action of his
prime minister and because his political style permitted a division of labor with the
prime minister taking care of partisan matters. With other personalities,the consti-
tutional provisions for a dual executive portend rivalry and conflict between the

3See his polite but firm criticism in the UDR National Council. Le Monde, June 26, 1970.
5 Paris Match, February 27, 1971.
6 For Pompidou's explanation of the different majorities, see his press conference. Le Monde,
September 25, 1971.
56Another purpose served by this division was to defuse potential discontent on the part of
party purists who were opposed to opening up the UDR to elements of questionable
loyalty to de Gaulle. The party could remain pure and the president could still gather
sufficient forces to win a nation-wide election.

president and the prime minister. The danger is well illustrated by Pompidou's
presidency. Pompidou did not enjoy de Gaulle's special authority and faced the
task of assuring his hold over the party and the nation. He could not afford to
leave party affairsto a prime minister who might become his rival.
Since Pompidou was much more interventionist in party matters than de
Gaulle, his prime minister was placed in a very tenuous position. Formally and
publicly the prime minister was responsible for the unity and health of the UDR
and the government coalition. In reality, he faced competition in exercising con-
trol over the UDR and the coalition from the president, the party secretary, and
other agents of the president. Pompidou's first prime minister, Chaban-Delmas,
was an experienced, well-establishedand popular politician, yet he never succeeded
in gaining mastery over the party. In part, this was due to the times: the UDR
was expanding rapidly, it was establishing a local and regional organization, and
along with its partners, it was adjusting to politics without de Gaulle. All this pro-
duced tension and discontent which could not be directed at Pompidou and which
was consequentlyaimed at Chaban-Delmas.
It is also likely that Pompidou was concerned that Chaban-Delmas would
try to build a political base for himself in the UDR as he Pompidou had done
while prime minister. At critical points, presidential support for Chaban-Delmas in
facing party and coalition critcism was not forthcoming. The internal challenges
Chaban-Delmas received could have been avoided or abated by firm presidential
action. It is possible that Pompidou used these challenges as a means of checking
Chaban-Delmas' attempts to establish his own political base in the Gaullist move-
ment. Pompidou was not quite sure enough of his own control of the movement
to fully entrust it to Chaban-Delmas.
The 1972 referendum on European integration illustrated Pompidou's tenuous
hold on the movement. In the spring of 1972 Pompidou announced a referendum
to approve the enlargement of the Common Market to include Great Britain and
other applicants. For some Gaullists, Pompidou's support for the admission of
Britain was an unacceptable break with de Gaulle's foreign policies. A number of
orthodox Gaullists called for a no vote on the referendum. Although the govern-
ment's position was endorsed by the election results, Pompidou's prestige was dam-
aged since the yes vote was not as large as expected. (The Communist party was
the only major party to advocate a no vote.) In his analysis of the referendum,
Alain Lancelot estimates that between 25 and 30 percent of the voters who sup-
ported the Gaullists in the 1968 legislative elections defected in the 1972 referen-
dum by abstaining,voiding their ballots, or voting no.57
With his own prestige tarnished, Pompidou may have felt especially threatened
by rivals within the Gaullist movement. Three months later (July 1972) he
changed prime ministers replacing Chaban-Delmas with Pierre Messmer. There
were other reasons for changing prime ministers: continuing scandals and impro-
prieties involving Gaullist deputies, Chaban-Delmas' inability to promote cohesion
within the majority coalition, his insistence on a parliamentary tactic disapproved

' Alain
Lancelot,"'I1 ne faut jurer de rien,' le referendumsur l'Europe,"Projet,No. 67
(July-August1972), 794-808.

of by Pompidou, and the desire for new leadership to prepare the 1973 legislative
elections.58 In any case it was clear that the change was not designed to alter poli-
cies since most other cabinet officers were held over into the new Messmer govern-
ment. The timing of the change, the manner of the change, and the personality of
the new prime minister all indicate that this was a maneuver to assure Pompidou's
control of the majority.
The new prime minister was a less imposing rival than Chaban-Delmas. As
de Gaulle's former defense minister and a hard-line Gaullist, Messmer could help
restore the confidence in the government among those orthodox Gaullists who de-
fected during the referendum. Unlike Chaban-Delmas, Messmer did not have a
national reputation and was thus not likely to rival Pompidou's national popularity.
Furthermore, he did not have much experience in parliament or Gaullist party
politics and would be unlikely to threaten Pompidou's dominance of the move-
ment. By necessity and also by inclination - evidenced by his enjoyment of parti-
san politics - Pompidou has been unwilling to follow de Gaulle's example of
abstaining from party politics. He has remained an active and powerful voice in
the politics of the Gaullist party and coalition.


If, as Samuel P. Huntington persuasively argues, "the institutional strength

of a political party is measured in the first instance, by its ability to survive its
founder or the charismatic leader who first brings it to power,"59then the UDR
and its allies have passed successfully their first test. Pompidou's easy succession to
de Gaulle's presidential post evidences this institutionalization of the UDR. Some
have argued that the cult of an original charismatic leader may well survive his
death and militate against the transmissionof his charisma to his successor.6?While
the cult of de Gaulle continues, it has not affected Pompidou's efforts to establish
mastery over the movement. Pompidou wisely avoided seeking to replace de
Gaulle's charisma with his own. Instead, he projected the public image of being
"a Frenchman like other Frenchmen." To compensate for his lack of charismatic
authority, he concentrated on building a powerful political base in a well-organized
and effective party.
In many ways, the UDR at the time of its founding resembledthe social move-
ments associated with charismatic leadership.61 If de Gaulle's followers lacked the
militancy and proclivity to violence of the followers of Lenin, Hitler, or Mussolini,
they demonstrated the acceptance of de Gaulle's mystic sense of mission, they were
totally devoted to his cause, and they were unconditional in their support for their

58 See Pompidou'sexplanation of the shift in his press conference, Le Monde, September 23,
53 Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1968), p. 409.
60 Robert C. Tucker, "The Theory of CharismaticLeadership,"Daedalus, 97 (Summer 1968),
61See ibid., pp. 737-40; and Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization,pp.

leader.62 The transformationof this charismatic movement into a modern political

party began, as we have seen, even before de Gaulle had left politics. Pompidou and
other Gaullist leaders perceived the need to adapt the party structuresand style if
the party were to survive de Gaulle. They successfully imposed the necessary
changes over the opposition of some "purists"who feared the dilution of the move-
ment through the addition of individuals whose personal loyalty to de Gaulle was
Pompidou and the other architects of the UDR have fashioned a catchall party
along the lines described by Otto Kirchheimer." A broad based electoral party
combining most of the elements of the once fragmented right and center, the UDR
gives every indication of being an enduring and possibly dominant political force.65
It draws political and electoral support from a wide range of socioeconomic forces.
It has penetrated and conquered areas where in the past the right has been virtually
non-existent in politics. It has developed an organizational structure with regional
and local ties. In its successful adaptation to life without de Gaulle and also to the
requirementsof modem French democracy, the UDR contrasts markedly with all
other French political forces. What remains of the center is torn between the desire
to join the Gaullist coalition and a distaste for Gaullist policies and political style.
The left is as fragmented as ever and has been unable to stem twenty-five years of
near constant decline in electoral support. The alliance of the Communists and
Socialists has produced a joint program which papers over important disagreements
on foreign policy and economic reforms. The French Left has failed to find leaders
with the vision and ability to carry out the far-reaching party reforms necessaryto
reverse its decline.66
While the UDR has passed its first and perhaps greatest trial in surviving de
Gaulle's departure, there are still several problems to be resolved before the process
of leadership succession is institutionalized. For one thing, as it has developed, the
process of choosing the UDR party leader is undemocratic. The prime minister is
the de facto party leader, yet the selection of the prime minister is largely at the
whim of the president. His choice is not formally or informally endorsed by any
party organ. Nor, in fact, is it ratified by the National Assembly. Two of de
Gaulle's choices for prime minister and, hence, party leader (Pompidou and Couve
de Murville) would probably not have even been in the running had the party
chosen its leader in an open democratic fashion. Pompidou's selection of Messmer
was acceptable to most of the UDR, but it is doubtful that he would have been the
party's selection in an open contest. With the president free to select the party

a For an excellent discussion of de Gaulle's charisma, see Stanley and Inge Hoffmann, "The
Will to Grandeur: de Gaulle as Political Artist,"Daedalus, 97 (Summer 1968), 829-87.
63See, for example, the stinging attack of one purist: Louis Vallon, L'Anti de Gaulle (Paris:
Editions de Seuil, 1969).
4 Otto Kirchheimer,"The Transformationof the WesternEuropeanParty System,"in Political
Parties and Political Development, ed. Joseph LaPalombaraand Myron Weiner (Prince-
ton: PrincetonUniversity Press, 1966).
's See Charlot, Le Phlnomene gaulliste, passim., on the institutionalizationof the UDR as a
federatorof the right.
' See Frank L. Wilson, The French Democratic Left, 1963-1969: Toward a Modern Party
System (Stanford: StanfordUniversity Press, 1971).

leader largely on his own, the UDR process of choosing its leader resembles that of
the British Conservative party before 1965. Prior to that date, the Conservative
party leader was designated by the monarch upon the recommendationof a handful
of elder party statesmen. (In 1965, the British Conservatives changed the proce-
dure so that the leader is now elected by a vote of the membersof the parliamentary
party.) The nondemocratic means of selecting the party leader may be a source of
internal conflict, especially since future presidents will not have de Gaulle's special
authority which automatically legitimized his choices in the eyes of Gaullists.
A second problem is that the process is dependent upon the presence of a Gaul-
list president and of a parliamentary majority which would sustain a UDR prime
minister. Obviously, the UDR leader could not be selected by a non-UDR presi-
dent. And the present system might not work if a UDR president was forced to
turn to a non-UDR leader for his prime minister. It is not surprisingthat the UDR
has not yet devised a means of selecting leaders when out of power since it has
held power since its formation in 1958. But, should the Gaullists lose power they
will have to dramatically alter the procedure of choosing a party leader. Another
problem stems from the dual nature of party and governmental leadership. There
is a potential for competition and rivalry between the president and the prime
minister. The use of the prime ministerial post as a training ground for the presi-
dency and as a base for developing political support is possible only so long as the
president does not view such activities as undermining his own political power, and
only so long as he is willing to relinquish his control over the party thus per-
mitting the prime minister to develop his own power in the party. It must be
rememberedthat the prime minister is appointed and can be dismissedby the presi-
dent. In the case of the de Gaulle/Pompidou tandem, de Gaulle's personal author-
ity was such that nothing Pompidou could do would undermine it, and he willingly
delegated party control to Pompidou. In turn, Pompidou was always careful to
stay within the limits of his responsibilitiesavoiding even the slightest suggestion of
a challenge to de Gaulle. The Pompidou/Chaban-Delmas relationship was much
less successful. Pompidou compensated for his lack of "natural"authority compared
to de Gaulle by relying on political power. He was thus not interested in relinquish-
ing the control over the party that he had won through years of effort. Chaban-
Delmas was nevertheless expected by Pompidou and others to keep the party and
coalition in line and to avoid encumberingthe president with petty partisan matters.
His efforts to develop his influence and power within the party could be and were
interpreted as challenges to Pompidou's authority. This produced tension and con-
flict within the party and between Pompidou and Chaban-Delmas. In short, this
succession process worked well for Pompidou's preparation to succeed de Gaulle.
But it is not clear that it will work now that the president needs party support to
sustain his rule and therefore cannot or will not cede party control to his prime
minister. At best, this succession process would lend itself to potential conflict and
tension between the presidentand prime minister.
A final problem to be resolved is that of distinguishing the party from the
government when the prime minister is both head of government and party leader.
This has not posed a major problem up to this point because the UDR clearly

dominates the government.67 It is conceivable that the UDR might find itself in a
coalition which it leads but in which other parties have powerful voices. In such a
situation, the compounding of prime minister and party leader in one man may lead
to a distortion of the party's position since the compromises emerging from the
government coalition may not accurately reflect the UDR position. It might then
be necessary to differentiate party leadership from governmental leadership.
In conclusion, this article has argued that the UDR succeeded in surviving
de Gaulle because the complementary attitudes toward party affairs of de Gaulle
and Pompidou permitted the latter to prepare himself and the party for governing
without de Gaulle. It illustrates the importance of party leaders, of their percep-
tions of the needs and nature of party adaptation, and of their abilities in deter-
mining party change. However, the solution which worked so well in the transition
from de Gaulle to Pompidou may not work in the transition from Pompidou to
his successor. Thus, the UDR has survived its charismatic founder; it now must
devise the means for assuring the smooth replacement of less extraordinaryfigures.

" Some UDR leaders have already complained that the party is too closely identified with the
government. They argue that since there are non-UDR elements in the government,the
UDR should have a party president and a separate policy statement to differentiate it
from the coalition government. See for example the argumentsof Alexandre Sanguinetti
Le Monde, October 12, 1971 and October 22, 1971. The argument has been renewed
in the months since the 1973 legislative elections. Pompidoucontinues to resist efforts to
name a president for the UDR.