chapter  6
10 Pages

Charisma and Hybrid Legitimacy in Pétain’s État français (1940-44) Marc Olivier Baruch

Charisma is now widely employed as an explanatory factor in the sudden appearance, during times of crisis, of new forms of political regimes. Indeed, an important strand in French political science had made wide use of the concept to explain moments of crisis in relation to the emergence of a variety of French political regimes of the twentieth century, including democratic ones, such as General Charles de Gaulle’s return to found the Fifth Republic in 1958. The last point underlines the fact that there is no necessary equation between charisma and dictatorship. Moreover, we must not overlook the fact that the concept of dictatorship itself is contested and elusive. When the conservative politician, André Tardieu, put forward the idea in the 1930s of a head of government being given real executive power and thus weakening parliament’s absolute power, the whole of the Left cried ‘dictatorship’. Léon Blum, for instance, conjured up the phantom of Caesarism, by comparing Tardieu’s aspirations to the Bonapartist governments France had twice experienced during the nineteenth century.