De Gaulle as head of government (1944/1946 and 1958)

General de Gaulle headed two governments whose programmes were of vital importance to France: at the Liberation he became President of the Gouvernement Provisoire de la République Française or GPRF (Provisional Government of the French Republic), from 3 June 1944 to his resignation on 20 January 1946, prior to the creation of the Fourth Republic. He later served as the last  President of the Council of the Fourth Republic from June to December 1958.

The Comité Français de la Libération Nationale or CFLN (French Committee for National Liberation), set up on 3 June 1943 and for some months co-chaired by General Giraud and General de Gaulle, was replaced by the Provisional  Government of the French Republic one year later, on 3 June 1944, with de Gaulle as its sole chairman. The GPRF incorporated all the political leanings of the Resistance at home and abroad: it was reshuffled in September 1944, on the return to Paris, to form a government of national unity. This government achieved a great deal by adopting much of the programme of the Conseil National de la Résistance (National Council of the Resistance) and of Free France: legislating by decree, it embarked on the reconstruction of France and introduced significant social innovations (votes for women, nationalisation of the banks and major enterprises, creation of the Social Security system, etc.). De Gaulle travelled extensively around France, ensuring that the legality of the republic was  maintained, making himself known to the people and learning, too, about a country he had last seen on 17 June 1940. He also visited the USA and Canada (July 1944) and the USSR (December 1944); France also played a part in the founding of the United Nations and became a permanent member of the Security Council. On the pretext of parliament's refusal to vote through the defence budget, de Gaulle stepped down on 20 January 1946, handing over to Félix Gouin; in reality the resurgence of old-style party politics had left him with little hope of improvements on the institutional front.

On his return to power in May 1958, at the invitation of President Coty prompted by the pressure of events in Algeria, de Gaulle became President of the Council of the Fourth Republic. The National Assembly voted his investiture on 1 June, by 351 votes to 250. De Gaulle had laid down his conditions in advance: full powers for six months and the introduction of a special procedure for constitutional reform. As well as travelling to Algeria and around the Empire to promote the constitutional referendum, de Gaulle also harnessed his energies to the task of continuing the modernisation of France so that it would qualify for membership of the European Community on the date set in the Treaty of Rome: the tasks included financial reform and economic measures to balance the budget. In the meantime, he developed French diplomacy with, notably, the invitation of Chancellor Adenauer to Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises in September 1958, as well as a new European defence policy with the proposal, in the face of American domination, of a tripartite committee (consisting of the Americans, British and French) at the head of NATO. De Gaulle was looking to the long term, and did not confine himself to the Algerian crisis which nonetheless was subject to his daily scrutiny.