JUNE 3, 1958
NEW YORK —General Charles de Gaulle has asked for great powers and is certainly doing what many a man, in accepting as serious a responsibility as de Gaulle's, must have longed to do in governments where Parliaments exist.
His calm assumption that Parliament can go on a vacation for six months means that he already has decided how he wants to work out the first things that have to be undertaken. He announced that there must be Constitutional reform but "based on republican regime."
Under the three broad principles that he laid down—(1) universal sufferage as a source of all power; (2) executive and legislative powers must be separated; (3) the government must be responsible to parliament—all could go well. But if he is not careful he might find himself establishing a one-party government, and that, for either a Fascist or a Communist regime, is satisfactory to the rulers but not conducive to freedom for the people.
There is no doubt that de Gaulle is a patriot and loves his country dearly, thinking of it historically in its greatest moments. How he spoke to the Assembly is characteristic of the kind of man that one has imagined him to be.
One hopes that de Gaulle will realize that he must preserve a truly democratic regime, because it is easy enough to see how we can go from an authoritarian Fascist government to a Communist-controlled government.
Now, for all of us who love France and want close cooperation among Western powers, there will be a period of watching every move. What happens in France may affect the whole of Europe and particularly might presage the hold of the Soviet Union on more and more countries. The spread of Soviet influence not only in Europe but even in the Near East is actually at stake in the measures which de Gaulle may undertake.
The first action he faces will be an Algerian settlement and an understanding with the three North African powers, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. And then in France he will have to get his Constitutional reforms.
De Gaulle has said ever since his retirement from public life, which came about largely as a result of disagreement on the Constitution, that the present Constitution was unworkable. He has been proved to be correct, so it is to be hoped that he has drafted some realistic reforms and that he will also have a clear-cut foreign policy on France's position in Europe.
It is fortunate that President Eisenhower feels that he has a good personal relationship with de Gaulle. That may make some difference in their ability to come to an agreement over the necessary cooperation between the Western powers in their relationship to the Soviet Union.
(Copyright, 1958, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 3, 1958
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
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