Coty, René, 1882-1962, French president (1954-59). From 1923 to 1940 he served in the legislature, first as a deputy and then as a senator. In 1940, when France fell to the Germans, he voted to hand all power to Marshal Pétain. After a wartime spent in retirement, Coty returned to the legislature and in Dec., 1953, was elected president as a compromise candidate. In the crisis over Algeria in May, 1958, he threatened resignation if Charles de Gaulle were not made premier; he left office with the creation (1959) of the Fifth Republic.