French presidential powers unequalled

2012-05-03 11:59
Paris - The French president enjoys powers unequalled in the democratic world, a situation strengthened by a decade-old reform that reduced the chances of "cohabitation" with a government of a different political hue.

France's Fifth Republic in 1958 replaced a parliamentary system, which had suffered from a weak executive and governments falling in quick succession, with a system of strong presidents elected for seven-year mandates.

The president was initially chosen by an electoral college but, after a 1962 referendum, this was changed to direct election.

The president of the republic is the head of the armed forces and has control of France's nuclear deterrent. He or she negotiates with foreign powers and ratifies treaties.

The president can organise referendums on laws or on constitutional changes. He can dissolve parliament, and nominate the prime minister, ministers and other senior figures in the administration.

He also names three of the nine members of the Constitutional Council, including its president, which he can call upon to decide on the constitutionality of a law.

Seven to five years

When the majority at the National Assembly is of the same political persuasion, the president is the effective head of the executive and can impose his views on the prime minister.

But during periods of "cohabitation", as happened in 1986-1988, 1993-1995 and 1997-2002 when the president was from a different political party than the majority of deputies, it is the prime minister who has this role.

Even then the president still controls foreign and defence policy.

The presidential term was reduced in 2002 from seven to five years to match that of the parliamentary mandate.

The president cannot serve more than two consecutive terms, according to a change to the constitution made by Sarkozy in 2008. Previously there was no limit.

Parliamentary elections are now held around a month after the presidential vote, which makes "cohabitation" a much less likely prospect.

Immunity

Parliament has little control over the president's powers but it does have the theoretical power to remove him from office if he is deemed to be failing to carry out his duties.

The only real accountability the president has is when he goes to the people to seek to renew his mandate.

While in office, the president enjoys immunity from prosecution and cannot be ordered to appear as a witness.

Read more on:    france

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News
 

US biker deaths down: What's the secret?

Motorcycle deaths are on track to decline for a second year in the US thanks to a so far - on bikes - little-used road safety accessory.

 

Stay safe

US biker deaths down: What's the secret?
Pro's and con's of accredited driver-training
Juvenile pillion riders? Play safe...
Need a family ride? SA's top Mommy Cars
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is crucial to look twice before signing anything important right now. While Mercury is in retrograde strange things can happen,...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.