Fifth Republic of France
The Fifth Republic was founded in 1958 by a constitutional convention. The primary author of the constitution was Michel Debré, although Charles De Gaulle was a strong influence. De Gaulle was selected by overwhelming majority (78.5%) as the first president of the Fifth Republic by an electoral college composed of influential politicians.
In 1962 a constitutional referendum changed the method of selecting a president to popular ballot. A small but vocal minority claimed the expanded powers of a popularly elected president would lead to the creation of an empire. The referendum passed, but nearly a quarter of French voters abstained from voting on the issue.
The presidents of France's Fifth Republic have been:
1959 - 1969 Charles de Gaulle
1969 - 1974 Georges Pompidou
1974 - 1981 Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
1981 - 1995 François Mitterand
1995 - Today Jacques Chirac