Despite Internal Crisis and External Threats, the Third Republic Was Able to Survive in the Period 1871-1914. Explain Why.

Topics: French Third Republic, Germany, Republicanism Pages: 5 (1504 words) Published: April 5, 2011
Despite internal crisis and external threats, the Third Republic was able to survive in the period 1871-1914. Explain why.

After the collapse of the Second Empire, the Third Republic was set up in France. During its reign, different internal crisis and external threats had occurred which threatened the existence of the republic. However, the unrests were solvable and the republic could finally survive. Internally, it was due to the own strength of republicans, the weaknesses of the opponents and the political climate of France which guaranteed the continuity of the republic. Externally, it was the skillful diplomacy and the specific international circumstance which saved the republic from being overthrown.

The own strength of republicans proved to be the main reason for the republic’s survival even facing internal crisis. The wise policies adopted by the republicans were able to curb with internal agitations and consolidated the republic.

In the political aspect, the reconciliation between various factions of republicans saved the republic. The republicans adopted the slogan ‘No enemies on the Left , once there was a major threat from the Right, Radicals, Socialists, Moderates and Syndicalists would put away their disagreement and combined temporarily. Gambetta even united all the republicans and organized an anti-royalist campaign throughout the country. For example in the Dreyfus case 1894-1906, the Right claimed General Dreyfus was a spy and used it as an excuse to attack the government. But the republicans were able to defeat the weak attack from the Right. Later, the pressure group formed by Maurras was suppressed quickly too. The above made the republic more firmly established and the Frenchmen were therefore evidently accepted republic was the only regime possible for France.

Legislation was also passed to restrict Church influence to prevent attack from the Right. For example in 1882, Godless schools were introduced. After the Dreyfus case, Law of Separation of Church and State was passed to deal with fierce attack from the Right. The resolute action of republicans sweet away opposition and made the survival of the republic possible.

Moreover, the French administration remained virtually unchanged throughout the pre-war era. The major institutions continued to carry out normal business of government no matter what was happening at ministerial level. It ensured the stability of the republic and therefore it could survive in the time of crisis.

Measures in socio-economic aspect were successful in gaining people support. In 1879, the Republican Legislation was adopted to gain the middle class support. For example full rights of public meeting and of the press were allowed. Also, in 1892 a comprehensive tariff act protecting French agriculture was introduced to get peasants support for the republic. In 1906-1911, the government carried series of reforms like Ten Hours Factory Act (1906) and Old Age Pensions Law (1910) to deal with riots and strikes.

The clever strategy of republicans eliminated the opponents. The popularity and stability of the republic republicans made the Frenchmen supported the government whenever threats appeared. As a result, the republic’s existence was guaranteed even in crisis.

The weakness of the opponents was another reason which gave chance for the republic to survive. Although there was crisis during the period 1871-1914, none of them was succeeded in overthrowing the republic. The first was their division. At early 1870s, the monarchists had a large majority in the National Assembly and they wanted a return of monarchism. It was agreed that a Bourbon (the Count of Cambord) should be the king and a Orleanist (the Count of Paris) as his heir. However, the former refused to accept the tricolor as the national flag and thus the plan was a failure.

The above issue shows that there was serious division within the royalists. Some monarchists in the National Assembly...
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