Authors: Duhamel & Mény
Summary: This entry, of about 2200 words, begins with the etymology of the term "republic" and continues with different interpretations of the concept, up to De Gaulle's.
Etymologically, republic stems from Latin res publica or res populica, i.e. the affairs of the people as opposed to the affairs of the king (regnum). Such a definition implies that the people play the same role that was formerly played by the king. Thus political power derives directly from the people.
The concept has been used to indicate sometimes the state (Bodin), sometimes a form of democratic government (Montesquieu). Before the creation of the United States in 1776, where the modern conception of republic stems from, it had been applied to small towns or collectivities. The remaining of the entry mentions French history from the Revolution in 1792 to the Fifth Republic. It is only at the end of the entry that the author defines republic as that system without dictator or king, a "state of right", a liberal democracy (Agulhon).
However, he admits the difficulty to define the concept - which has a political nature and it is thus difficult to conceive with juridical conceptual tools - and to distinguish it from that of democracy (the two sometimes overlapping each other).
In the end, he finds in De Gaulle's words a direction for further research: republic represents people's sovereignty, appeal to liberty and hope for justice.