Qu’est-ce que la Constitution ?

Par le 23 octobre 2018

Quel est le but d’une Constitution ? À quoi sert-elle ? Quelle est l’histoire de la Constitution française ? Comment a-t-elle évolué au fil des années ? On vous explique tout !

Qu’est-ce qu’une Constitution ?

La Constitution est la loi fondamentale d’un État. Elle explique donc le fonctionnement général de ce dernier, de ses institutions et définit les droits et les libertés des citoyens.
Elle est considérée comme la norme suprême, la plus élevée de l’ordre juridique de chaque pays. Les autres lois tirent ainsi leur validité de la Constitution.

En France, la Constitution est écrite. Elle correspond à un ensemble de textes juridiques. Cependant, ils existent certains Etats comme le Royaume-Uni qui n’ont pas de Constitution écrite. En effet, la Constitution du pays est « non-codifiée » (ou « non-écrite ») et existe dans un sens abstrait. Elle est formée d’actes législatifs, de jugements et de conventions judiciaires. C’est la coutume qui permet de déterminer les relations entre les institutions.

La Constitution française

La Constitution française au fil des années

La Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen est élaborée en 1789 et définit la norme suprême (la loi suprême) en l’appelant Constitution. Elle déclare que « toute société dans laquelle la garantie des droits n’est pas assurée, ni la séparation des pouvoirs déterminée n’a point de Constitution ».
Ces deux principes fondamentaux sont définis dans la Constitution :

  • Les valeurs de la République et les droits des citoyens : La Constitution permet de garantir les droits fondamentaux des citoyens tels la liberté d’expression ou l’égalité des citoyens devant la loi.
  • Les différents organes des États, c’est-à-dire les institutions et les relations entre les institutions : Les pouvoirs sont confiés à ces institutions. Ainsi, le Parlement, composé de l’Assemblée Nationale et du Sénat détiennent le pouvoir législatif. Le pouvoir exécutif appartient au Président de la République et au Premier ministre et enfin le pouvoir judiciaire qui est confié aux juges administratifs et aux juges judiciaires.

Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen de 1789

De cette manière, la Première Constitution apparu après la Révolution Française, en 1791 et mit en place une monarchie parlementaire. Ainsi, les pouvoirs du monarque, c’est-à-dire du chef de l’Etat, étaient encadrés par une Constitution et le régime était basé sur le principe de la souveraineté de la Nation.

Il fut suivi par plusieurs régimes politiques, avec leur Constitution distincte :

Un directoire est mis en place en 1795 durant la Première République.
La Constitution était alors le texte fondamental qui fixa les pouvoirs de la République française entre 1795 et 1799. Ce sera aussi le cas pour les 4 autres Républiques qui suivront, avec le détail de la répartition des pouvoirs.

On trouve aussi un consulat en 1799 avec une Constitution élaborée sous la direction de Napoléon Bonaparte qui lui confia la totalité du pouvoir exécutif (Constitution du 22 frimaire an VIII). Le Premier Empire adoptera la même Constitution en 1804 et ce, jusqu’en 1814.

« Il faut qu’une Constitution soit courte et obscure. Elle doit être faite de manière à ne pas gêner l’action du gouvernement » – Napoléon Bonaparte.

Aussi, le régime de Vichy s’organisa sur la base de la loi constitutionnelle du 10 juillet 1940, qui donna les pouvoirs constituants (pouvoir de créer ou de modifier une Constitution) au maréchal Pétain. En découlera de ce texte, 12 actes qui détailleront le fonctionnement de ce régime.

Acte constitutionnel n°2 sous le régime de Vichy

 

La Constitution française actuelle

La Constitution actuelle de la France est définie en 1958 par référendum. Elle a été proposée par Charles de Gaulle avec la proclamation de la 5ème République.

Encore une fois, y figure un ensemble de textes juridiques composés d’articles mais aussi, la Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen de 1789, qui cite les droits fondamentaux de chaque individu (comme la liberté d’expression, d’opinion et de croyance religieuse).
On trouve aussi le préambule de la Constitution de 1946 qui fixe les principes de la République et les droits sociaux tels le droit de grève, le droit syndical, le droit à l’égalité homme-femme, au travail etc. et enfin la Charte de l’environnement de 2004.

« Notre Constitution est à la fois parlementaire et présidentielle, à la mesure de ce que nous commandent à la fois les besoins de notre équilibre et les traits de notre caractère. » – Charles de Gaulle.

De plus, la Constitution de la 5ème République détaille le fonctionnement de ses institutions :

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "la 5ème République"

À noter qu’il est possible de réviser la Constitution, et l’article 89 de cette dernière précise les modalités nécessaires pour que les modifications soient effectives.
En premier lieu, la révision constitutionnelle doit être « votée par les deux assemblées en termes identiques ». Mais pour être officiellement adoptée, elle doit passer par un vote ultime.
Si la révision constitutionnelle est à l’initiative du Président sur proposition du Premier ministre (projet de révision), alors elle doit être adoptée soit par la majorité des 3/5ème des suffrages exprimés du Congrès soit par référendum.
Si la révision constitutionnelle est à l’initiative du Parlement (proposition de révision), alors elle doit être obligatoirement adoptée par référendum.

En conclusion, la Constitution française est la norme au-dessus de toutes les autres normes. Elle a évolué au fil du temps et les normes se sont adaptés à chacun des régimes qu’a connu la France. Elle définit des principes importants auxquels l’Etat doit se soumettre et accordent des droits aux citoyens.

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