The article is devoted to analyzing basic approaches to the definition of Bonapartism. Bonapartism is considered: as a model or an ideal type of a political system, which tends to be repeated in certain circumstances; as a political ideology of the post-revolutionary period, aimed at implementation of the principles of centralism; as a system of institutions and governance’s procedures that enables the practical realization of the aforementioned ideology in a divided society. The author clarified the peculiarities of the formation and functioning of the political regime in France in 1799–1814/1815 and outlined two stages of the functioning of Bonapartism, i.e. the consular (1799–1804) and the imperial (1804–1814/1815) ones. The author also identified the role of constitutional referendums/plebiscites and Senatus-consultes in the formation of the political regime of Napoleon I Bonaparte. The scientific attention is focused on the constitutional powers of the institutions of legislature, executive and judiciary. The researcher also found out the place of the State Council (government institution), which was entrusted with legislative functions, in the political system. In addition, the features of the formation and functioning of local self-government were also considered. It was determined that the main government institutions were formed by appointment. The main features of Bonapartism as a type of political regime in France in 1799–1814/1815 were as follows: dominance of executive over legislature and judiciary; reliance on the powers of the head of executive and his positioning as a “leader of the nation”; control of the system of local self-government by the central executive; strict police supervision and censorship; suppressing any opposition. It was found that due to the brutal suppression of opposition, the Bonapartist regime provided political stability in France. Consequently, Bonapartism in France in 1802–1814/1815 should be defined as the historical prototype of the authoritarian regime.
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