French Constitutional Law of 1940

French Constitutional Law of 1940, are the bills that were voted into law on 10 July 1940 by the National Assembly, which comprised both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies during the French Third Republic. The law established the regime of Vichy France. It passed with 569 votes to 80, with 20 abstentions. The group of 80 parliamentarians who voted against it are known as the Vichy 80. The law gave all the government powers to Philippe Pétain, and further authorized him to take all necessary measures to write a new constitution.[1] Pétain interpreted this as de facto suspending the French Constitutional Laws of 1875 which established the Third Republic, even though the law did not explicitly suspend it, but only granted him the power to write a new constitution. The next day, by Act No 2, Pétain defined his powers and abrogated all the laws of the Third Republic that were incompatible with them.[2]

French Constitutional Law of 1940
Original title(in French) Loi constitutionnelle du 10 juillet 1940
Ratified10 July 1940
Act No 2, obverse.
Act No 2, reverse.

Although given full constituent powers by the law, Pétain never promulgated a new constitution. A draft was written in 1941 and signed by Pétain in 1944, but it was never submitted or ratified.[3][4]

The Ordonnance of 9 August 1944 [fr] was an ordonnance promulgated by the Provisional Government of the French Republic after D-Day asserting the nullity of the Constitutional Law of 1940 and other classes of law passed later by Vichy. The Constitution of 1940 was not repealed or annulled but rather declared void ab initio.


  1. ^ Text of the French Constitutional Law of 1940
  2. ^ "Constitutional act no. 2, defining the authority of the chief of the French state". Journal Officiel de la République française. July 11, 1940.
  3. ^ Jackson, Julian (15 October 2011). "7. The Republic and Vichy". In Edward G. Berenson; Vincent Duclert; Christophe Prochasson (eds.). The French Republic: History, Values, Debates. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Cornell University Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0801-46064-7. OCLC 940719314. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  4. ^ Beigbeder, Yves (29 August 2006). Judging War Crimes and Torture: French Justice and International Criminal Tribunals and Commissions (1940-2005). Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff/Brill. p. 140. ISBN 978-90-474-1070-6. OCLC 1058436580. Retrieved 20 July 2020.


  • Derfler, Leslie (1966). The Third French Republic, 1870-1940. France: Van Nostrand. ISBN 0-89874-480-6.
  • Paxton, Robert (1975). Vichy France. United States: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-39300-794-4.