A diplomatic cohabitation

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Alternately praised and blamed, cohabitation has played a major part in running the fifth Republic institutions and in leading French diplomacy and defence. It therefore deserves an unbiased appraisal at distance from election time. The picture that comes out of the comments of the political elite in the months preceding the April-June 2002 elections is far from flattering. As far as foreign policy is concerned, cohabitation appears as too complicated way of government to be considered as ideal. In the medium and long term, it has an anaesthetic effect. But it requires more moderation, reflection and dialogue. It reduces the risk of untimely decisions and political dysfunction, which is eminently positive. It appears as a factor of rationalization of the decision-making process. This evaluation can be seen as rash and asks for more detailed explanations that one must replace to make it clear in the historical context that saw the three cohabitations of the fifth Republic shape up and operate. –Summary AFRI-2003