On both sides of the Atlantic, we face the same big social questions,rnrendered more acute each day by the extension of the notionrnof “rights.” The more wealth our societies produce, thernmore intense becomes the debate over how it should be distributed.rnIn this realm, America has the same sort of problemsrnas France and Western Europeans in general. The list runsrnfrom the urban crisis (which in Europe has taken the form of arnsuburban crisis) to the problem of how to pay for Social Security.rnEverywhere, political democracy has become social, and inrnthis domain, America, in spite of its tradition of extreme individualism,rnhas the same problems as the European welfarernstates.rnOn both sides of the Atlantic,rnwe face the same big socialrnquestions, rendered more acuterneach day by the extension of thernnotion of ‘rights.’rnToday, however, as a way of expressing my gratitude, I wouldrnlike to make a few remarks about how democratic constitutionsrnof Europe have become closer to the American precedent, as ifrnthere has been, in many countries of Europe and Eastern Europe,rna critical filtering of the heritage of 1789.rnThis evolution originated in the defeat of fascism, which wasrnaccompanied by progress in the spirit of moderation and prudence.rnThe most spectacular illustration of this new way ofrnthinking was the development of a true democracy in WestrnGermany. Another example would be the intelligent andrnpeaceful way that Franco’s Spain became democratic in thernmid-1970’s. But before returning to the European scene, let usrnconsider the recent history of my own country, France.rnHeaven knows that France had a great deal of difficulty andrntook a long time to dominate that heritage and to anchor it inrninstitutions both stable and free. A first “end” to the Revolutionrnmay be ascribed to the moment when Napoleon establishedrnhis dictatorship and founded the modern centralizedrnstate with which we still live today. But if that “end” to the Revolutionrndid indeed bequeath a state to contemporary France, itrnalso consecrated the divorce between democracy and politicalrnliberty as well as the unrealistic policy of French domination ofrnEurope. The French Revolution resumed its course again inrn1815, and 19th-century France had the strange character, perhapsrnunique in history, of being a people repeating for a secondrntime the repertory of the late 18th century: the return of the legitimaternmonarchy—soon to be overthrown again, followed byrna new 1789-like attempt to establish a constitutional monarchy;rnthen in 1848 came a new revolutionary Republic and even arnsecond Bonaparte when the first had seemed so exceptionalrnboth for his genius and for the circumstances that brought himrnto power. Finally a new neo-Jacobin revolution and a last attemptrnto restore the Bourbons preceded the formation of thernThird Republic, the first durable synthesis of the revolutionaryrndemocratic tradition.rnIf we look at our late 20th-century French Republic, the FifthrnRepublic, we can see to what extent French democratic institutionsrn—the most consensual we have ever had since 1789—rnhave, on the contrary, integrated elements that come from outsidernof the revolutionary tradition. The France of today is nornlonger that Republic where the singular and indivisiblernsovereignty of the public was exclusively in the hands of a Parliamentrnor even of a single Assembly. Now sovereignty is vestedrnin an autonomous judicial power which issues indirectlyrnfrom the people while being independent and sometimes evenrnabove them: the Conseil constitutionnel, which is responsiblernfor overseeing and verifying the constitutionality of laws. Additionally,rnthe sovereign people voted overwhelmingly in favor ofrnan idea passionately rejected by the French revolutionaries: thatrnof a head of state elected by universal suffrage, something thernmen of 1789 saw as an embodiment of the ghost of the monarchy.rnThe men of 1989 no longer view this idea as incompatiblernwith French republicanism, for this is their way of adaptingrnsomething common to almost all modern democracies today,rnand it constitutes a rediscovery of a strong executive power.rnAsweeping glance at today’s democracies would probablyrnlead us to conclude that the ways in which they have resolvedrnthe famous 18th-century problem of how to organizernthe sovereignty of men over themselves are more similar thanrnever. For example, democracy founded not only upon thernsovereignty of the people but upon the division of power is notrnonly a well-known formula for government—well known sincernthe 18th century—but a feature of all states that adopted freerninstitutions. And regardless whether they have parliamentaryrnor presidential systems or, as in France, a combination of therntwo, almost all—with the exception of Italy—have a strongrnexecutive power even when that power is not the direct resultrnof universal suffrage but designated by Parliament. In fact, inrndemocracies of the padiamentary sort, the prime minister’srnauthority comes from the voters who elect the representativesrn—those representatives having been chosen according tornthe chief executive they support. In France’s mixed regime,rnthat unique combination of presidential and parliamentaryrnregimes, the supreme head of the executive—the president—isrnelected separately from the representatives. Because of this, asrnin the case in the United States—the classic model of a presidentialrndemocracy—the power of the president may be limitedrnby the choice of representatives—as is indeed the dominantrntrend in the United States. Very recently, in Prance, betweenrn1986 and 1988, the French executive power has split itself inrntwo, with the president and the prime minister coming fromrndifferent majorities, thus constituting a new separation of powerrnthat would have surprised Montesquieu. Nevertheless, in allrnthese cases, new or old, it would seem that strong executivernpower directly issuing from popular suffrage has become thernrule in modern democracies, distancing them from the modelrnof 1789,rnTo the list of common or at least comparable elements ofrncontemporary Western democracies, we must also add the increasedrnrole of the judiciary in determining the constitutionalityrnof laws. After World War II, and as a reaction to totalitarianism,rnsupervision of laws by the judicial courts was establishedrnin Western Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, and, inrn12/CHRONICLESrnrnrn