Leaders » Presidents » VINCENT AURIOL
Vincent Jules Auriol served as the first President of the Fourth French Republic between 1947 and 1954. As President, he was known to foster goodwill among France and its allied nations. A law graduate from the Collège de Revel, he commenced his career as a lawyer in 1904. Vincent Auriol was a member of the SFIO (French Section of the Workers' International) and had jointly established the socialist newspaper ‘Le Midi Socialiste’. He began his political journey in 1914 with his appointment into the French Chamber of Deputies. During his tenure as Minister of Cabinet, he handled departments like Finance and Justice. His decision as Minister of Finance, to devalue the French Franc against US Dollar by thirty percent was highly debated during the period. Vincent Auriol was imprisoned between 1940 and 1943, because of voting against the allocation of exceptional administrative advantages to Marshal Philippe Pétain as head of the Vichy regime. He was elected the first President of the Fourth French Republic in 1947. However, during his presidency, political disagreements, economic decline and ongoing wars contributed to the constant assaults from other parties. He refused to stand for a re-election after the end of his term and withdrew from politics altogether in 1960.
After completing his graduation in law, Vincent Auriol began his career as a practicing lawyer at Toulouse. He was a dedicated socialist and the charter member of the socialist party SFIO. In 1908, he jointly established the newspaper ‘Le Midi Socialiste’. He was also heading the Association of Journalists at Toulouse during this time.
He entered into politics in 1914 by winning a seat in the Chamber of Deputies from Muret as a Socialist Deputy. He retained this position until 1942.
In 1920, with the disintegration of the SFIO party, a new group SFIC was created. However, he did not join the new party and was among the few leaders who worked in the new SFIO party.
Soon after his entry in politics, he emerged as a prominent figure in the party and was the primary spokesperson on various issues. Beginning in 1924, for two years, he headed the Finance Committee at the Chamber of Deputies.
In 1925, he was elected as the Mayor of Toulouse, which he continued till 1942. Between 1928 and 1947, he was also a member of the Departmental councils of Haute-Garonne.
Between 1936 and 1937, during Léon Blum’s period of service as Prime Minister, he served as the Minister of Finance. However, during this period, decisions like devaluation of the French franc against US Dollar and stronger industry regulatory restrictions led to economic instability.
These actions subsequently led to the resignation of Léon Blum as Prime Minister. He was succeeded by Camille Chautemps under whose government, he was appointed as the Minister of Justice between the years 1937 and 1938.
With Édouard Daladier's government coming into power in 1938, he resumed his duties at the Chamber of Deputies. In 1940, he was one among the deputies who cast their vote against granting full administrative privileges to Marshal Philippe Pétain as head of the Vichy regime. As a result of this, he was kept under house arrest until late 1942.
In 1943, he got the opportunity to attend Free French Consultative Assembly and stand for the socialists. The following year he participated in the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference and represented France. Later, in 1946 he became the first ever French delegate on the United Nations Security Council.
Between 1946 and 1947, he held the post as Deputy for Haute-Garonne in the National Assembly. On 16 January 1947 he won the elections at the National Assembly with a large margin and became the first President of the Fourth French Republic.
As president, he strived to promote cordial relations between France and its ally nations. However, the period witnessed economic and political distress following the World War II and ongoing Indo-china war. The year witnessed a series of strikes, many of which were supported by the Communist Party. This led to the expulsion of the party from the legislature the same year.
The period of Presidency of Vincent Auriol was not only a trying period for France but also affected conditions at the French colonial empire. In 1952 France engaged in a war with Madagascar and jailed Tunisian leader Habib Bourguiba. The following year, the Sultan of Morocco was overpowered by the French after he claimed self-government.
In 1954, at the end of his presidential term, he refused re-nomination and was subsequently succeeded by René Coty. He later assumed the role of a senior statesman and composed articles on politics.
In 1958, he became member of Constitutional Council of France, at the establishment of the French Fifth Republic and unsuccessfully lobbied against the constitution in the 1958 national referendum.
As an expression of disapproval against the growing power of Charles de Gaulle's presidency, he resigned from the Constitutional Council in 1960. He distanced himself from politics completely in 1960.
His presidency was marked by attempts to reconcile political factions within France and warm relations between France and its allies. As Minister of Finance, he took the controversial decision to devalue te French franc 30% against the U.S. dollar.
Vincent Auriol was born on 27 August 1884 at Revel in France. He was the only child of baker Jacques Antoine Auriol and his wife Angélique Virginie Durand.
After his preliminary studies, he went on to graduate with a law degree from the Collège de Revel that was affiliated to the University of Toulouse in 1904.
Vincent Auriol married Michelle Aucouturier on 1 June 1912. The couple had a son named Paul on 15 September 1918.
Vincent died 1 January 1966 in Paris. He was later buried at Muret, Haute-Garonne.