Worth noting here is the link between representative government, property, liberty, and the balance of powers, as well as the idea that political democracy, if not properly purified of its allegedly radical tendencies, fails to give due consideration to all these principles and values. She argued that in modern society, laws must protect private property and the private sphere from any form of illegitimate interference. This center which we need is property; this link is personal interest. When the spirit of faction dominates a legislative body, the principle of representation becomes corrupted and the will of the people no longer has a trustworthy interpreter and defender.
A well-designed representative system, she believed, must therefore be an adequate reflection in miniature of public opinion at large, and ought to take into account the interests of both the progressive and conservative elements in society, by trying to reconcile civil equality with political and economic inequality. Most of these principles, including bicameralism, were enshrined in the final text of the Constitution of voted by the Convention on August She also agreed with eligibility criteria for the legislative body that reintroduced property qualifications and limited suffrage.
From the very beginning, she expressed her hope that the country would have the wisdom to learn from the mistakes of the past. Will the executive power have to pay the same price in order to obtain the strength necessary to the maintenance of the government and consequently, of the republic? France now had a republican regime, and the absolute veto was regarded by some as incompatible with republican principles and popular sovereignty. An absolute veto was the attribute of a monarch and so could not be granted by a republican government.
There is a great difference between the two. The knowledge and information that only the executive power possesses are necessary to the elaboration of the laws. If the executive were not able to make suggestions for the revision of a decree it deems to be dangerous, the laws could not be properly applied.
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She reminded her readers that, in England, the veto power was never exercised because the monarch had at his disposal other means of exercising influence over the executive power, the most important being the presence of his ministers in the House of Commons. It is only necessary to know up to which point the mystery of this cloud is necessary in order to countervail all individual ambitions.
Les enjeux des relations franco-américaines entre 1794 et 1802
While the directors must be granted absolute inviolability, except in cases of rebellion, their ministers must be held politically responsible, being obliged to resign if they should lose the confidence of the legislative body. The implications of this view are worth spelling out. Second, she claimed that the co-participation of the executive power in the exercise of the legislative function was essential to the smooth functioning of representative institutions and the application of the laws.
To properly discharge this role, they must never be forced to execute a law of which they disapprove and should have statutory means of asking the legislative power to take a second look at the laws that had been adopted. Arguing against creating an executive power strictly separated from the legislative, she declared that ministers must be allowed to participate in the deliberations of the lower chamber because their administrative experience and knowledge are essential to raising the level of legislative debates.
She concluded that an executive power that did not participate in the elaboration of the laws was a merely instrumental and passive power, with little interest in the proper application of the laws. She drew attention also to the composition and role of the Council of the Ancients, pointing out that its members must have life tenure and ought to be considered candidates for the position of directors. As we have seen, the constitutional text adopted in August , which sought to charter a new course in French post-revolutionary history, was destined to have a short life.
The conventional interpretation of its failure points to the peculiar conditions of political life under the Directory, which made the implementation of a moderate republican constitution virtually impossible. There is some truth to this analysis, as the ever-present specter of reaction and Jacobinism rendered the task of moderates extremely difficult.
Moreover, the political personnel of the Directory were corrupt and unable to properly fulfill their tasks. Another line of interpretation emphasizes the inherent limitations of the Constitution of , most notably the lack of adequate legal means for resolving conflicts between the two main powers in the state, as demonstrated by the events of 18th Fructidor and 18th Brumaire. Other problems were the rigid separation of powers envisioned by the French legislators, the annual elections, and the rather odd provisions for the renewal of the personnel of many institutions, including the Directory every year a new director was supposed to be elected, along with a third of each of the two councils.
It was this intense pace of political life that made Barras declare that the country resembled a besieged citadel which, from time to time, had to resort to risky counteroffensive measures in order to win some breathing space.
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They would pay a high price for their stubbornness and poor judgment. The internal dysfunction of the Directory became evident on the eve of 18th Fructidor, when the fear of a counterrevolution created public confusion and blurred the dividing line between the friends of liberty and the partisans of arbitrary power. As Thibaudeau remarked in his memoirs, the Directory was confronted with a choice between overcoming the royalists by force of arms or by strengthening the constitutionalist party around which supporters of the rule of law rallied.
Les conséquences politiques de la paix
Unfortunately, the directors chose the first solution. Their coup was made easier by the fact that the executive power did not have the right to dissolve the legislative power in case of political gridlock. They sent soldiers to arrest the recalcitrant members of the Council of the Five Hundred, expelled almost two hundred deputies, and proceeded to remove from the political scene the two dissenting directors.
No less than opponents of the regime were condemned to deportation overseas, military commissions were set up, and freedom of the press was abolished once again, this time in light of Art. What makes this seminal text so interesting is that its author adopted a partisan tone while pretending at the same time to be the voice of moderation in search for a necessary consensus among all of the friends of liberty in France.
To this end, she had to walk a narrow path, seeking to persuade, convince, and pressure the undecided sympathizers of the republic. She expressed concern over the low public spiritedness of the French, which she regarded as a corollary of civic apathy and post-revolutionary fatigue. She also expressed optimism about the possibility of a new science of politics modeled upon the natural sciences. Such a science, she hoped in a surprisingly Hobbesian vein , would be capable of submitting political passions to rigorous analysis and would view politics as a rational and quantifiable object of investigation.
Consider, for example, the confident tone and bold advice she gave to the government: it must preserve its monopoly on power at all costs.
Power should not escape from the hands of a party supporting the republic, she argued, adding that the republicans should never agree to share power with another party. Instead, they must consolidate their position in spite of the fact that public opinion was temporarily against them. At the same time, her call to firmness and assertiveness was tempered by her appeal to moderation in the exercise of power.
Her endorsement of strict measures meant to restrict freedom of the press certainly worried republicans; she agreed that books should be published freely, but accepted the censorship of journals. The moderate republican political agenda of Des circonstances actuelles had little chance of influencing the French political scene, and it is revealing that the text was never published.
In this regard, I agree with G. Some said that they had been constrained to whatever they had done, though a thousand actions of spontaneous servility or cruelty might have been cited against them. Others pretended that they had sacrificed themselves to the public good, though it was known that they had thought only of self-preservation; all threw the evil upon some individuals … several political leaders gave fear, and nothing else, as a sufficient excuse for their conduct.
Where, on this planet, does one see a good without any inconveniences? A legislator can always endorse only the law or the institution which contains a greater dose of good than evil. Any absolute [principle] is a true impossibility. In the political realm, utopians dream of a kind of moral fairytale whose miracles would be worth the enchanted cup, the horn of Astolphe.
Their readers do not always see the supernatural in the abstraction and believe in these metaphysical miracles, as our children do in the wonders of the golden lamp. If you are a republican, you must strengthen the executive power so that anarchy does not bring back the monarchy. If you are a royalist, you must strengthen the executive power so that the nation becomes accustomed again to being governed, and the spirit of uprising is contained.
If you are a republican, you must wish that positions be occupied by honest individuals who will make the new institutions dear to the people. If you are a royalist, do not give up on elections, and try to make that people choose the most virtuous ones as their representatives. The republican constitution enjoyed a great advantage; it would be readily endorsed by all parties if only because the people were weary of the revolutionary turmoil: It can be implemented effortlessly and will come into being, if nobody opposes it; the force of inertia works in its favor; the government only needs to promote peace.
If nobody wants to reopen any wounds It is thus necessary to calm and console; this simple idea is the key secret of this moment. Even within the most radical parties, people are tired. The constitution must accommodate all those who are tired of revolutions; we must welcome them, and put an end to all the misfortunes which it is still in our power to redress. The future of property and the association of thirty million individuals were too important to be decided by the speculations or whims of only a few individuals: These two great modifications of natural freedom demand first representative government instead of personal democracy, the division into two assemblies, and a strong executive power.
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