FRENCH GOVERNMENT, Part 2
The President of the
Republic is elected by direct universal suffrage for a term of seven
years. The two rounds of presidential elections take place at a two
week interval. The last elections were held on April 23 and May 7,
Members of the
National Assembly are elected by universal suffrage for a 5 year
term. Elections are organised over two Sundays; the last elections
were held on May 25 and June 1, 1997.
Senators are elected
by indirect suffrage for 9 years; Senate elections are held every 3
years to renew one third of senators; the latest election was held in
September 1995 for the Departments of Bas-Rhin to Val d´Oise
(the Departments of Metropolitan France are listed by alphabetical
order and numbered: the division for Senate election purposes follows
the numbering system).
France´s 87 seats in the European Parliament in Strasbourg are
held every five years, by universal suffrage. The last elections were
held in June 1994.
- Regional Elections
Regional Councillors are elected for six years by direct suffrage;
a single-ballot proportional election system is used. The last
election for all regions was held on March 15, 1998.
- Cantonal Elections
General Councillors are elected by direct suffrage for a term of
six years in two ballots by absolute majority (single member),
with one Councillor for each canton (a canton being a grouping of
municipalities). The last Cantonal elections were held on March 15
and 22, 1998.
- Municipal Elections
Municipal Councillors are elected for a term of six years, by
direct suffrage. Two different electoral systems apply:
- Municipalities of less than 3,500 inhabitants: a two-ballot
- Municipalities of over 3,500 inhabitants: two-ballot list-poll
proportional majority system. The last elections were held in June 1995.
Article 3 of the
Constitution states that "National sovereignty belongs to the people;
they exercise it through their elected representatives or through a
referendum." Article 11 of the Constitution states that a referendum
may be called by the President of the Republic on government proposal
or on a joint parliamentary motion, published in the Journal
Officiel, to vote on a bill dealing with government powers,
entailing the approval of a community agreement or providing for the
ratification of a treaty which, although not unconstitutional, would
affect the functioning of institutions. The last referendum to be
held in France was on September 20, 1992, to obtain community support
for the Maastricht Treaty. Several referendums have been organised
under the Fifth Republic, which itself was created by referendum on
September 28, 1958.
- January 8, 1961: Self-determination of Algeria (Yes - 74.99%).
- April 8, 1962: Evian agreement (Yes - 90.8%).
- October 28, 1962: Election of the President of the Republic by
Universal Suffrage (Yes - 62.25%).
- April 27, 1969: General de Gaulle proposes new legislation on the
administrative division of France and on Senate reforms (No - 52.41%).
- April 3, 1972: Expansion of the European Community (Yes - 67.7%).
- November 6, 1988: The Matignon Accords on New Caledonia (Yes - 79.99%)
- September 20, 1992: Maastricht Treaty on European Union (Yes - 51.05%)
(percentages are of valid votes)
There have been
several amendments made to the 1958 constitution, the most recent
being in February 1996.
Source: About France , from the French Embassy in Australia