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Auriol, Vincent (1884–1966)

French socialist politician and first president of the Fourth Republic (1947–1954). Born on 27 August 1884 in Revel, Haute-Garonne, France, Vincent Auriol studied at the University of Toulouse and earned both a doctorate in law and a license in philosophy. He practiced law for a time and joined the Socialist Party in 1905. He won election to the French Chamber of Deputies in 1914 and sided with socialist Léon Blum when the communists split off in 1920. During the Popular Front government of the mid-1930s, Auriol served as minister of finance under Premier Blum in 1936 and as minister of state in 1938.

Auriol was one of eighty deputies who refused to cede executive authority to Henri Philippe Pétain in June 1940. Briefly imprisoned, Auriol escaped in 1942 and joined the Resistance. A year later he made his way to London to join the Free French of General Charles de Gaulle. Auriol then held a number of government posts in the provisional government.

With his strong reputation as a mediator, Auriol was elected president of both the first (1945) and second (1946) constituent assemblies. He easily won election in January 1947. Although he had earlier advocated abolition of the office of president, he now worked to give it more than a ceremonial function. He used his few powers to the utmost, aided by the considerable factionalism in the National Assembly. He was obliged during his term of office until 1954 to deal with frequent changes of premier for which he solicited replacements. Auriol traveled widely and spoke out on matters of policy, especially foreign affairs. He strongly opposed Soviet expansionism and supported the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), although at the same time he wished for France to pursue an independent policy. A strong supporter of the French Union, he nonetheless opposed independence for French overseas possessions.

Auriol decided not to seek reelection in 1953. He served briefly on the Constitutional Council of the Fifth Republic but resigned in 1960 because of concerns over the concentration of authority in the hands of Charles de Gaulle. Auriol died in Paris on 1 January 1966.

Elizabeth Pugliese and Spencer C. Tucker


Further Reading
Fauvet, Jacques. La IVe République. Paris: Fayard, 1959.; Ghebali, Eric. Vincent Auriol: Le président cityoen, 1884–1966. Paris: B. Grosset, 1998.; Grosser, Alfred. La IVe République et sa politique extérieure. Paris: Librairie Armand Colin, 1967.
 

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