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Calling for "National Regeneration," Vichy reversed many liberal policies and began tight supervision of the economy, with central planning a key feature. The media were tightly controlled and stressed virulent anti-Semitism, and after June 1941, anti-Bolshevism.
The newly formed French State maintained nominal sovereignty over the whole of French territory, but had effective sovereignty only in the unoccupied southern zone libre ("free zone").
The Vichy government cooperated with the Nazis' racial policies.
In theory, the civil jurisdiction of the Vichy government extended over most of metropolitan France; only the disputed border territory of Alsace-Lorraine was placed under direct German administration.
Much of the French public initially supported the new government, despite its undemocratic and pro-Axis policies, often seeing it as necessary to maintain a degree of French autonomy and territorial integrity.
In November 1942, however, the zone libre was also occupied by Axis forces, leading to the disbandment of the remaining army and the French sinking of its remaining fleet and ending any semblance of independence, with Germany now closely supervising all French officials.
The Vichy government remained in existence, but was reduced to a puppet government by Germany.
After being appointed Premier of France by President Albert Lebrun, Marshal Pétain ordered his military representatives to sign the armistice with Germany on 22 June 1940.
At that point, the French Third Republic was dissolved. The independence of women was reversed, with an emphasis put on motherhood. Paris lost its avant-garde status in European art and culture.
As the last premier of the Third Republic, being a reactionary by inclination, he blamed the Third Republic's democracy for France's sudden defeat by Germany.
He set up a paternalistic, authoritarian regime that actively collaborated with Germany, Vichy's official neutrality notwithstanding.
They maintain that Vichy was an illegal government run by traitors, having come to power through an unconstitutional putsch.
Historians have particularly debated the circumstances of the vote by the parliament of the Third Republic, granting full powers to Pétain on 10 July 1940.