French term for cooperation between parties without forming a coalition. This situation arises whenever the presidency and the legislature are controlled by different parties, for instance in 1986, when a President of the left, François Mitterrand, was confronted by a government of the right under Jacques Chirac. This represented a major test for the hybrid Fifth Republic whose constitution allocates powers and responsibilities in a vague and sometimes contradictory manner between President, prime minister, and government. Cohabitation is essentially a conflictual relationship, but one involving a temporary collaboration where responsibilities overlap. The government legislates for domestic matters with the President confined to advice and arbitration. Foreign and European policy are shared although as head of state the President retains his traditional privileged status. Defence, nuclear strategy, and the deterrent, however, remained the exclusive preserve of the President.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Politics.