France Colonies and Politics

France Colonies and Politics

According to Neovideogames, the French colonial empire, with its 10.6 million sq km. surface area and its 56 million residents (excluding mandates), comes in importance after the British one (for its formation and subsequent development, see colonization, and below: History). France has colonial dominions in all non-European parts of the world; those of greatest importance are in Africa (9.8 million sq. km. and 34 million residents) and in Asia (700 thousand sq. km., 21 million residents); the possessions of America and Oceania have respectively 91,000 and 23,800 sq km. and 555,000 and 90,000 residents Furthermore, after the world war of 1914-1918, France was entrusted with the (revocable) mandate over some African territories (part of Cameroon and Togo, former Germanic colonies: a total of 483,800 sq km and almost 3 million residents) and Asiatics (Syria and Lebanon: 200,000 sq km, 2.8 million residents).

Given the great diversity of the natural, anthropic, economic and political conditions of the various countries that make up the French colonial empire, they are governed in various forms, and therefore their relations with France are very different. We can distinguish: a) the parliamentary colonies, which have, that is, a representation in the French parliament; such are Algeria, Sénégal, Reunion, Cochinchina, French India, Guiana, Guadeloupe and Martinique; moreover, Algeria is considered as the wholemeal bread of France; b) non-parliamentary colonies (colonies of French West Africa, minus Sénégal, and French Equatorial Africa, French Somalia, Madagascar, New Caledonia, etc.); c) the protectorates, countries that maintain local institutions under the control of the French government (Tunisia, Morocco, Tonkin, Annam, Cambodia, Laos); d) condominiums: the New Hebrides (Oceania), an Anglo-French condominium territory, with equal rights of residence, protection and trade for the subjects of both nations; e) the mandates, entrusted to France by the League of Nations, which are revocable and therefore can only be considered as forming part of the French colonial empire temporarily. With the mandates, the French dependencies would have 11,370,000 sq km. surface area and over 61 million residents overall.

Unlike Great Britain, which has important possessions in both the temperate and tropical zones, France has its major colonial dependencies in the tropical or subtropical zone; and tropical and subtropical are therefore the agricultural products which it can derive from them. The countries of North Africa produce wine, cereals, olive oil, tobacco, almonds, legumes, cork, alpha; West and Equatorial Africa, peanuts, palm oil and palm nuts, cocoa, cotton, rubber, gum arabic, timber; Madagascar produces vanilla and coffee; La Réunion, sugar and rum; Indochina, rice, rubber and drugs; Syria, cotton; the Antilles produce sugar, coffee, cocoa and vanilla. Livestock farming is thriving throughout North Africa, Madagascar, French West Africa and Syria (where silkworm breeding is also notable), and France exports live animals, wool and skins. The mineral riches are also very important: iron ores are extracted in Tunisia and Algeria, zinc in Indochina and Algeria, copper in Equatorial Africa, gold in Guiana and Madagascar, nickel, cobalt and antimony in New Caledonia, graphite in Madagascar, coal in Indochina. For some of the products now enumerated, some French dominions are at the top of world production: Indochina for rice, the North African countries for olive oil and phosphates, and Algeria also for wine, West Africa for peanuts and walnuts and palm oil, New Caledonia for nickel,

The trade between the motherland and its colonial dependencies are very active; in fact, in 1929 France absorbed about 80% of the value of Algeria’s imports and 70% of exports; the percentage was respectively 65 and 54 for Tunisia, 50 and 20 for Indochina, 45 and 40 for Equatorial Africa, etc. France exports from its dependencies the raw materials necessary for its industries, and mainly imports manufactured products. Exchanges are also very active between the various dominions, especially Africans (between Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia and between these and West and Equatorial Africa). The importance of some addictions is not only economic, but also political: those of North Africa, for example, they have ensured to France the dominion of the Mediterranean coast opposite the French coast; French Somalia, where the Addis Ababa railway ends, serves as a base for penetration into Ethiopia.

The shortage of men prevents France from fully exploiting, for the benefit of the world economy, its great colonial empire, the needs of which, moreover, contribute significantly to aggravate the already serious demographic situation of the national territory. In fact, the number of metropolitan French sent to the colonies as military and civil servants, and of emigrants to the colonies, especially French, is not negligible. And it should be remembered that France, again due to the shortage of men in the national territory, armed a large colonial army, which was also widely used in Europe during and after the world war.

Political order

The republican regime was inaugurated in France, albeit provisionally, on August 31, 1871, according to the constitution plan that took the name of the one who had to amend it, Charles Rivet. On February 24 and 25, 1875, the so-called constitutional laws concerning the official recognition of the republic, the organization of public powers and the institution of a second chamber, that is, a Senate, were promulgated alongside the National Assembly; and on July 16 the law defining the relations of public authorities was promulgated. The constitutional laws, albeit partially modified with legislative provisions of July 22, 1879 and August 1, 1884, are those which currently govern France. The law of February 25 provides in art. 1 that the legislative power is exercised by two assemblies: the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. To art. 2, that the president of the republic, elected by an absolute majority of the votes of the Senate and of the Chamber gathered in a national assembly, is appointed for seven years and has the right to be re-elected. The president of the republic (art. 3) has the initiative of the laws in competition with the members of the two chambers and promulgate the laws when they are approved by those councils. He has the right of pardon and has the armed forces. It may (art. 5), with the assent of the Senate, dissolve the Chamber of Deputies before it has fulfilled its mandate. He cannot declare war without the consent of the two chambers. The ministers, whose number, especially during the war and the immediate aftermath, has been changed several times, are responsible to the chambers of the general policy of the government. Whoever is charged with forming a new cabinet chooses its members in agreement with the president of the republic. According to the law of February 24, 1875, partially modified with that of the following August 2, the Senate has, in competition with the Chamber of Deputies, the initiative and formation of laws, with the exception of those on finance which must in the first place be presented and voted on by the Chamber of Deputies. In practice, the French Senate made little use of this right of initiative, limiting itself to exercising a with the exception of those of finance which must first be presented and voted on by the Chamber of Deputies. In practice, the French Senate made little use of this right of initiative, limiting itself to exercising a with the exception of those of finance which must first be presented and voted on by the Chamber of Deputies. In practice, the French Senate made little use of this right of initiative, limiting itself to exercising a veto on bills voted by the Chamber of Deputies. The Senate can be constituted in the High Court of Justice to judge both the president of the republic and the ministers. The Senate is made up of 314 members elected for nine years from among citizens who have reached the age of 40, renewable for a third every three years; they are elected by a special electoral college, constituted in each department of deputies, general councilors, district councilors, and by senatorial delegates elected by the municipal councils (from 1 to 24, according to the number of councilors; Paris elects 30). The law of February 24, 1875 provided that 75 senators were elected for life; it was modified in 1884, in the sense that at each death the election was carried out for the duration of nine years. The Chamber of Deputies is elected for four years; to be elected, the candidate must have passed the age of twenty-five. His election takes place with the district ballot by direct and universal suffrage. Anyone who has not satisfied the requirements of the military law concerning active service cannot be a member of the Chamber. Citizens aged 21 and over are voters. The number of deputies is 612 (1 for every 100,000 residents). Some colonies have the right to elect a certain number of senators (Algeria 3, Guadeloupe 1, French India1, Martinique 1, La Reunion 1) and deputies (Algeria 6, Guadeloupe, Martinique, La Reunion 2 for each, French India, Guiana, Cochinchina and Sénégal, 1 for each).  The Council of State, which was established by Napoleon I, is made up of councilors, of maîtres des requêtes and auditors.

France Colonies and Politics