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René Coty
René Coty-1929.jpg
René Coty in 1929.
President of France
In office
16 January 1954 – 8 January 1959
Prime Minister Joseph Laniel
Pierre Mendes-France
Edgar Faure
Guy Mollet
Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury
Félix Gaillard
Pierre Pflimlin
Charles de Gaulle
Preceded by Vincent Auriol
Succeeded by Charles de Gaulle
Co-Prince of Andorra
In office
16 January 1954 – 8 January 1959
Preceded by Vincent Auriol
Succeeded by Charles de Gaulle
Member of the French Senate
In office
7 November 1948 – 23 December 1953
Constituency Seine-Maritime
In office
14 January 1936 – 1 January 1944
Constituency Seine-Maritime
Minister of Reconstruction and Urban Development
In office
24 November 1947 – 7 September 1948
Prime Minister Robert Schuman,
André Marie
Preceded by Jean Letourneau
Succeeded by Eugène Claudius-Petit
Member of the French National Assembly
In office
21 October 1945 – 19 November 1948
Constituency Seine-Maritime
In office
10 June 1923 – 31 May 1935
Constituency Seine-Maritime
Personal details
Born Jules Gustave René Coty
(1884-03-20)20 March 1884
Le Havre, France
Died 22 November 1962(1962-11-22) (aged 78)
Le Havre, France
Nationality French
Political party Radical-Socialist Party
Democratic Alliance
National Centre of Independents and Peasants
Spouse(s) Germaine Corblet (b.1886) (m. 1907–1955); her death
Children Geneviève (1907–1987)
Anne-Marie (1909–1987)
Alma mater University of Caen Normandy
Profession Lawyer
Awards Legion of Honour
Military service
Allegiance France France
Service/branch French Army
Years of service 1914–1918
Rank Soldier
Unit 129th Infantry Regiment

World War I:

Jules Gustave René Coty (French pronunciation: ​[ʁəne kɔti]; 20 March 1884 – 22 November 1962) was President of France from 1954 to 1959. He was the second and last president of the Fourth French Republic.


Early life and politicsEdit

René Coty was born in Le Havre and studied at the University of Caen, where he graduated in 1902, receiving degrees in law and philosophy. He worked as a lawyer in his hometown of Le Havre, specialising in maritime and commercial law.

He also became involved in politics, as a member of the Radical Party, and in 1907 was elected as a district councillor. The following year he was elected to the communal council of Le Havre as a member of the Republican Left group. He retained both of these positions until 1919. Coty also served as a member of the Conseil Général of Seine-Inférieure 1913–1942, holding the post of Vice President from 1932.

With the outbreak of the First World War, Coty volunteered for the army, joining the 129th Infantry Regiment. He fought at the Battle of Verdun. In 1923, Coty entered the Chamber of Deputies, succeeding Jules Siegfried as Deputy for Seine-Inférieure. However, by this stage of his political career he had moved away from the Radical Party, and sat as a member of the Republican Union. Between 13 and 23 December 1930 he served as Under-secretary of State for the Interior in the government of Théodore Steeg.

In 1936, Coty was elected to the Senate for Seine-Inférieure. He was one of the French parliamentarians who, on 10 July 1940, voted to give extraordinary powers to Philippe Pétain, thereby bringing about the Nazi-backed Vichy government. Coty remained relatively inactive during World War II, although he was rehabilitated after the war.

Postwar life and presidencyEdit

He was a member of the Constituent National Assembly from 1944 to 1946, and chaired the right-wing Independent Republican group, which later became part of the National Center of Independents and Peasants. Coty was elected to the National Assembly in 1946 as a Deputy for Seine-Inférieure, and from November 1947 to September 1948, he served as Minister for Reconstruction and Urban Planning in the governments of Robert Schuman and André Marie. Coty was elected as a member of the Council of the Republic in November 1948, and served as Vice President of the Council from 1952.

Coty stood as a candidate for President in 1953, although it was thought unlikely that he would be elected. Nonetheless, and despite twelve successive ballots, right-wing favourite Joseph Laniel failed to obtain the absolute majority required. Following the withdrawal of another key right-wing candidate, Louis Jacquinot, Coty was finally elected in the thirteenth ballot on 23 December 1953, winning 477 votes against the 329 of the socialist Marcel-Edmond Naegelen. He succeeded Vincent Auriol as President on 16 January 1954.

As President of the Republic, Coty was even less active than his predecessor in trying to influence policy. His presidency was troubled by the political instability of the Fourth Republic and the Algerian question. With the deepening of the crisis in 1958, on 29 May of that year, President Coty appealed to Charles de Gaulle, the "most illustrious of Frenchmen" to become the last Prime Minister of the Fourth Republic. Coty had threatened to resign if de Gaulle's appointment was not approved by the National Assembly.

De Gaulle drafted a new constitution, and on 28 September, a referendum took place in which 79.2% of those who voted supported the proposals, which led to the Fifth Republic. De Gaulle was elected as President of the new Republic by parliament in December, and succeeded Coty on 9 January 1959. Coty was a member of the Constitutional Council from 1959 until his death in 1962.

In popular cultureEdit

A photo of President Coty is a running joke in the 2006 French spy spoof OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The Revenge of Jacques Bond, Heidi Ellison, Paris Update, 26 April 2006. Retrieved 6 August 2010.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Vincent Auriol
President of France
Succeeded by
Charles de Gaulle
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Vincent Auriol and Ramon Iglesias i Navarri
Co-Prince of Andorra
with Ramon Iglesias i Navarri
Succeeded by
Charles de Gaulle and Ramon Iglesias i Navarri