A Guide to Politics in French
The journal French Politics is an international peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of contemporary and comparative French politics. It publishes theoretical papers, empirical papers, and papers that integrate the French case into broad comparative analyses. This transformative journal offers authors the option of publishing via traditional publishing or gold Open Access.
French politics are complex, with so many parties and allies that it can be confusing for a layperson to follow. The French have a unique system of elections that allows for a large number of political parties, but these parties are not all created equal. In the 2022 presidential election, for example, there were 12 candidates from 12 different parties.
One of the largest French political parties is the French Republican Party (PRL). The party represents a broad spectrum of political views and projects itself as a Gaullist party. Gaullism is a distinctively French form of social conservatism that is patriarchal and nationalistic. However, the French Republican Party has moved far from the Gaullism of its founding party, the UMP.
In addition to the president and the parliament, French citizens also vote in local and regional elections. MPs are elected using a two-round system. Smaller parties and independents are allowed to run for office as well.
French elections are held by citizens, who choose public officials in both the legislative and executive branches. The French government is a semi-presidential unitary republic with a bicameral legislature. Public officials in both branches are elected by the public, and appointed by those elected. Elections are held in France every five years.
Voting in France is conducted by paper ballots, which are manually counted. Voters receive pre-printed ballot papers from the voting office before the election. No mail-in voting is allowed in France, so voter lists are mailed to them before the election. Voters then take the ballot papers, have their identities checked, and enter a curtained booth to cast their vote.
The election has a number of possible outcomes. It depends on the size and composition of the two largest parties. Macron's bloc could end up with a majority, but he is unlikely to win more than half of the votes. However, it's important to note that even if Macron is elected president, the government will have to negotiate with legislators to pass legislation. In addition, the far-right's surge is likely to be due to the mutual hatred between leftists and centrists. The main opposition force appears to be the new coalition of socialists, communists, and greens led by hard-left figure Jean-Luc Melenchon. Their platform includes a significant minimum wage increase, a reduction in the retirement age to 60, and locking energy prices.
In the first round of voting, more than half of eligible voters abstained. The turnout was 46 percent. The National Rally was expected to win between 20 and 40 seats. The results surprised political pundits. Most media outlets hailed the results as a historic breakthrough.
Regulations for political campaigning
Regulations for political campaigning in French are strict and make it difficult for candidates to use unlimited amounts of money. These rules also restrict private donations. In a democracy where money plays a crucial role, regulations help ensure that political campaigns are free from undue influence by money. However, in the French political system, money is also a key issue.
In a recent election cycle, France's presidential election and legislative campaign marked the first electoral campaign to use digital tactics. French elections have a long tradition of strict data protection, and a new law enacted in May 2018 has made these practices more difficult. The French law also accommodates the use of voter lists that include names, birthdates, and places of birth.
The French political system is based on a two-party system. The two major parties, the Socialist Party on the left, and the right-wing Les Republicains, lead stable coalitions. In the presidential election of 2016, however, both parties failed to reach the second round. In the end, a newly formed party, En Marche!, gained the presidency and a majority in the National Assembly. Elections are held according to rules outlined in the French Constitution and the country's organic laws. Voting is voluntary, but not compulsory.
Influence of the independent judiciary
The French Constitution of 1958 created the Constitutional Council, a body similar to a Constitutional Committee but with much more power than its early predecessor. It had broad powers and was tasked with scrutinizing legislation, but only lois organiques, which have to do with the organization of government, could be ruled unconstitutional. Its power would gradually increase during the Fifth Republic, but its role remains restricted.
In order for the judiciary to function effectively, it must be independent and impartial. This principle is reinforced by the requirement that half of the judiciary council members are chosen by their peers. In addition, decisions about appointments and promotions must be based on objective criteria and not on political considerations or government pressures.
The French constitution protects the independence of the judiciary. Before the 2008 constitutional reform, France had an established principle of parliamentary supremacy, with the highest administrative court, the Conseil d'Etat, refusing to review any legislation. It also had an independent supreme court of appeal.
In France, the term "cohabitation" means sharing a home. However, it does not mean "living together." The term colocation is often used for sharing a house. Macron's coalition with the Socialist party is likely to splinter into multiple parties. It may be difficult to keep this coalition together, and is not a good example of cohabitation.
In France, cohabitation is legal, and it is now possible for unmarried people to live together without having to get married. This form of cohabitation, called "parte civil de solidarité," is a transitional legal status between a union and a contract. While this type of arrangement may be temporary, it suggests a complex jurisprudence story in France.
The first cohabitation resulted in 105 laws. The Chirac government reversed many of the actions of the previous government. For example, it privatized nationalized companies, ended the use of proportional representation in legislative elections, and returned to the majority vote. It also cancelled the concessions of two private television channels, TV6 and La Cinq, and passed laws aimed at preventing crime and ensuring the rights of foreigners.
Cohabitation and politics in France began in 1986, when socialist president Francois Mitterrand was forced to appoint his political rival Jacques Chirac as prime minister. This appointment was a major test of the Fifth Republic Constitution, which had an uneven distribution of power.
In a recent election, President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected in the runoff, defeating far-right challenger Marine Le Pen. His victory came as a relief to many. Macron faces conflicting politics with both the far-left and the far-right. Here is a breakdown of what's happening in France's political system.
Macron correctly predicted the decline of the left-right cleavage in French politics five years ago and used it to his advantage. Despite this, the mainstream parties still dominated the French party system until 2017 and received abysmal scores in the election. However, these results suggest that the traditional cleavage is breaking down and new divisions are arising.
As the French presidential election enters the second round, both candidates must work to woo voters. While Macron is the most popular candidate in large cities, Le Pen does better in small towns, peri-urban areas, and rural areas. However, Macron is also resonating with the periphery. Le Pen's campaign has garnered huge support in overseas departments and territories.
Independence of the executive
The French Constitution provides for a number of independent agencies that sit at the disposal of the government. These agencies include the Economic and Social Council, which advises the government on economic and social policies. The Economic and Social Council may also be consulted by the government on a particular issue, and it also has executive and quasi-judicial powers. Its recommendations are sent to the Prime Minister, National Assembly, and Senate for their consideration. Its decisions are published in the official journal of the country.
The President of France is the preeminent figure in French politics. He appoints the Prime Minister. While the President cannot de jure dismiss the Prime Minister, he can demand that he step down if the situation warrants it. De Gaulle is credited with initiating this practice, but subsequent Presidents have not always used it.
The National Assembly is the highest legislative body in France. It has the power to force the government to resign, but only if the Prime Minister is from the dominant party or coalition. The Assembly rarely overthrows a government due to party discipline and parliamentary immunity.