French constitutional referendum, 1969

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
France portal
The regions, as intended by the reform

A constitutional referendum was held in France on 27 April 1969.[1] The reforms would have led to government decentralization and changes to the Senate. It was rejected by 52.4% of voters, and failure of the amendments led to President Charles de Gaulle's resignation.


Government decentralization

The first part of the project aimed to classify the existence of Regions in the constitution as Territorial Collectivities. That would affect the regional circonscriptions created in 1960, and Corsica.

The Region's jurisdiction would be enlarged, primarily with taking control of public utilities, housing and urbanization. In order to exercise these new powers, the Region would be able to borrow money, enter into contracts, create, manage or grant public organizations and enter into agreements with other Regions.

The Regional Councils would be composed of:

Special arrangements would be taken for the Parisian Region, Corsica and the overseas departments.

Senate reform

The second part of the project would combine the Senate and the Economic, Social and Environmental Council into one new senate having a consultative function and no blocking power. The necessity of a second consultative house representing the territorial collectivities and economic, familial and intellectual organizations had been announced by de Gaulle in his Bayeux speech, on 16 June 1946, and mentioned again during his presidency and to Alain Peyrefitte. The main changes in the role of the senate would be the following:

Senators would be elected for six years, with elections held for half the house every three years (as has been the case since 2003). They would have to be over twenty-three, rather than the then minimum age of thirty-five.

The senate's composition would be the following:


De Gaulle announced that if the reforms were refused, he would resign. The opposition urged people to vote no, and the general was equally hindered by popular former right-wing prime minister Georges Pompidou, who would stand as a presidential candidate if de Gaulle were to leave, reducing the fear of a power vacuum felt by the right-wing Gaullist electorate. Also, former finance minister Valéry Giscard d'Estaing declared that he would not vote yes. Only the UDR campaigned for a yes.


Results of the referendum by administrative division
Choice Metropolitan France Total
Votes % Votes %
Invalid/blank votes635,678643,756
Registered voters28,655,69229,392,390
Source: Nohlen & Stöver


Following the referendum's failure, de Gaulle resigned on 28 April 1969, at ten past midnight, and released a laconic statement from Colombey-les-Deux-Églises:

I cease to exercise my functions as president of the Republic. This decision will take effect today at midday.[2]

Alain Poher, president of the senate, became interim president of the Republic until the next elections, when Georges Pompidou came to power.


  1. Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p674 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. In French: Je cesse d’exercer mes fonctions de président de la République. Cette décision prend effet aujourd’hui à midi.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 7/17/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.