Are you visiting France on holiday? Would you like to know about the government & politics of France? Here we provide useful information and facts about the French government.
The constitution of France
The road to democracy in France has been a long and often troublesome one. Since 1789 France has had no less that 11 constitutions. The most recent one, which still applies today, was established in 1958 by Charles De Gaulle who was president of France at the time. This constitution ushered what had become known as the fifth republic.
Head of Government in France
According to constitution of the fifth republic of France, the president is afforded a great deal of power. Aside from being the official head of government, presidents in France serve for seven year terms whereas in most other western European countries terms are limited to four years. The president, who is also the commander in chief of all France’s armed forces, is directly elected by the general voting population of France.
The constitution of France also provides for a prime minister; however, often the prime minister and president do not come from the same political party. In such cases there is an agreement that the prime minister takes prime responsibility for domestic issues while the president serves as head of state on international issues. Despite this, the president has the legitimate authority provided by the constitution to dissolve the national assembly as well as dismiss the prime minister.
Government Assemblies in France
There are two main national government assemblies in France; the National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly in France consists of 577 members and is the main house of government in France. Each assembly member is individually elected in single member constituencies to serve for a term of five years.
The senate, which has considerably less power than the National Assembly, consists of 321 members who serve nine year terms. Senate members are indirectly elected. The voting age in France is 18.
Local government in France
France is divided into 96 departments for the purposes of local government administration. Departments are each 6,100 km². There are 91 local government departments on mainland France and a further 5 located on the French Island of Corsica and other overseas territories.
Executive power in the French Government
Executive power in the government of France is shared between the president and the council of ministers. Ministers are appointed by the president but are responsible to parliament.
The French government abroad
France is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. France still administers territories abroad which are technically considered a part of France.