FRANCE: The Negative Majority

At 11:45 one night last week the presiding officer of the French National Assembly finished tolling the vote on Premier Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury's plan for constitutional reform in revolt-torn Algeria. Solemnly, the President announced the result—279 against, 253 for—then added the ritual sentence, "Confidence is thus refused." At a moment when the nation was all but engulfed by a sea of troubles, France had chosen to bring down its 23rd government since World War II.

The man who overthrew hapless Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury headed one of the smallest blocs in France's National Assembly. As...

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