State Structure and Political System of France

By | April 28, 2022

The National Assembly is vested with the right to seek the resignation of the government. The procedure is as follows: when rejecting a government program as a whole or a separate bill, the government raises a question of confidence; in response, the lower house is empowered to pass a special resolution of censure. With the support of at least 50% of the deputies, the cabinet is obliged to resign. However, the president has the right, having accepted the resignation of the prime minister, to immediately reappoint him to this post. Or, on the contrary, to remove the prime minister, despite the support of the majority of parliamentarians.

The upper house of parliament – the Senate (317 members) is elected by two-stage voting and is renewed by a third every 3 years. The structure of the Senate is identical to that of the National Assembly. The Senate, unlike the lower house, cannot terminate the government; in relation to the laws adopted by the National Assembly, the Senate has the right of suspensive veto. Composition of the Senate as of May 2003: SON 83 seats, FSP 68, Union of Centrists 37, Liberal Democrats 35, Rally of Democrats for Socialism and Europe 16, PCF 16, other 66 seats.

On the basis of the Constitution of 1958, a quasi-judicial body, the Constitutional Council, was created in France. It examines acts issued by the legislative and executive branches of government for their conformity with the Constitution. The Council has 9 members. The President of the country, the heads of the National Assembly and the Senate (3 members each) have the right to nominate them. The appointment is made for a nine-year term and cannot be repeated. The President of the Council is appointed by the President of France from among the members of the Council.

Since 1982, local executive power has been elective (before that, it was exercised by prefects appointed by the prime minister). At the departmental level, the elected bodies are the general councils, at the regional level, the regional councils.

According to topschoolsintheusa, France has developed a democratic and multi-party system. Works approx. 25 parties; 16 of them participated in the 2002 elections. However, only 3-4 parties have a real influence on political life. This is primarily the center-right United in Support of the Republic (OPR), which in 2002 was transformed into the RUS, and the center-left FSP. In con. 1980s the far-right National Front (NF) entered the ranks of the main parties. In the 1990s there was a strengthening of tripartism, associated mainly with the growth of the electoral successes of the NF against the background of the stabilization of the right center and the weakening of the socialists.

The OPR, which arose in 1976 as the successor to the YuDR, continued the Gaullist tradition of France’s “special path” in foreign policy as a great power and international mediator. In the 1990s with the complication of relations between industrial and developing countries, with the liquidation of the Soviet bloc, the need for French mediation was sharply reduced; the rudiments of Gaullism remained in the form of France’s “special approach” to almost all problems of world politics and European construction. In the economic sphere, the ODA, unlike the centre-right parties in other industrialized countries, has not turned to neo-liberalism. The position of the ODA on the main economic issues (the role of the state in the economy, attitude to business, the fight against unemployment) before the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2002 resembled the views of European social democrats. From the beginning 1980s in presidential and parliamentary elections, the ODA invariably won 20-22% of the vote. In the 1st round of the 2002 presidential election, ODA candidate J. Chirac received 19.7%, outstripping the PF leader J.-M. Le Pen by only 2%.

In the face of the threat of NF victory, the ODA set the task of rallying the centre-right forces. The Unification in Support of the President movement, created around her, became an important factor in the victory of the center-right in the elections (J. Chirac received 81.96% in the 2nd round). Subsequently, the movement was transformed into the SON, whose leader was the well-known figure in the ODA, Alain Juppe. While still not openly proclaiming the principles of neo-liberalism, the SON’s economic program envisages a reduction in the functions of the state and increased support for business. In the political sphere, the SON aims to preserve and maintain the role of a great power, the leader of European politics (this was manifested in the position of France during the war in Iraq 2003).

The second main party in France, the FSP, formed in 1971 on the basis of the SFIO, sees its task in the gradual transformation of society in the direction of socialism while maintaining a market economy. In the presidential elections of 2002, the FSP was defeated, its candidate, Prime Minister L. Jospin, having received only 16.2% of the votes, did not pass to the 2nd round. The defeat of 2002 continued the failures of the socialists, which began with ser. 1980s and caused by their sharp shift to the right. In 1972, the FSP, which was in silent opposition, put forward the slogan of a “break with capitalism” through large-scale nationalization, the introduction of directive planning, the “fair distribution” of income through radical reform of taxation, and so on. With this program, the FSP and its leader F. Mitterrand won a landslide victory in the presidential and parliamentary elections of 1981. However, the significant deterioration of the economic situation, caused by the implementation of measures to “break with capitalism”, forced the FSP to turn to practice, and then to theories from the arsenal of the right. In the next program of the socialists (1991), society was no longer offered a “non-capitalist path of development”, but just another model of economic management. As a result, the FSP began to quickly lose the electorate, which shook its power positions. The powers of the socialists were full-scale only in 1981-86 and in 1988-93, and in other years they were limited to either the executive or legislative power, which led to the coexistence, respectively, of either a left-wing president with right-wing governments (1986-88, 1993-95), either a right-wing president with a left-wing government (1997-2002), or a complete transfer of power to the right-wingers (1995-97). In the 1990s – early. 2000s

Constant defeats weakened the function of the FSP as a “carrying element” of the party structure and, as a result, the position of the entire left grouping of the French party system, already complicated by a sharp deterioration in the position of the communists. Before the beginning 1990s The PCF managed to maintain a stable 8-10% electorate. But then it dwindled: to one part of the voters the positions of the PCF seemed too traditional and dogmatic, to another, the largest, not radical enough. In the presidential elections of 2002, only 3.4% of voters voted for the general secretary of the FKP R.Yu. The PCF, which has finally lost its position as a significant political force, lags behind in popularity from the extreme left parties, whose leaders in the 1st round of the 2002 presidential elections collectively won 11.2% of the vote (including Labor Force – 5.7%, the Communist revolutionary league – 4.3%).

The loss of positions by traditional left parties is largely due to profound shifts in French society: the transition to the post-industrial stage of development, the growth of the educational level, the elimination of the most egregious forms of inequality, the erosion of former large social groups and their political subcultures, the departure of generations who considered class as central problems confrontation, presidential or parliamentary versions of the republican system. All this leads to an increase in voting not according to social affiliation, but based on personal political preferences and interests. Hence the emergence of multiple small parties and the fragmentation of the electorate.

In modern France, a situation has developed when the small number of supporters of the latest global public projects (neoliberalism, modernization, integration) does not allow the formation of a large party in their support. On the contrary, a significant segment of the electorate, demanding changes, understands them as a backward movement, a kind of counter-reformation. The most consistent and active opponents of neoliberalism and integration are the electorate of right-wing and left-wing extremist parties: 1/3 of the voting French.

The rise to power of the extreme right National Front began in 1974 (0.9% in the presidential elections). The NF did not appear to be a significant political force for a long time. Its importance began to grow rapidly in the 1990s, when France was gripped by a deep and protracted economic crisis.

The ideological constructions of NF are very primitive. The long-term deterioration of the French economy is due to the influx of immigrants occupying jobs, and the conspiracy of large foreign capitals and “Brussels technocrats” who are alien to French interests. The proposed recipes are strengthening the presidential power and law enforcement agencies, stopping immigration, leaving the EU, including the rejection of the euro.

The NF is not yet able to translate the increase in electoral influence into an increase in political influence. The majoritarian electoral system and the refusal of the central organizations of the OPR and the FSP from pre-election agreements with the NF have so far contributed to a rather successful repulse of attempts by the extreme right to penetrate various government bodies, incl. to the National Assembly. Therefore, the third main party of France is still a “power without power”, which does not influence domestic and foreign policy.

Modern France is characterized by the relatively low importance of trade unions. The trade union movement, like the party movement, is distinguished by the multiplicity of its constituent organizations. The main ones are: the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), traditionally close to the PCF; the socialist-oriented French Democratic Confederation of Labor (FDCT), the independent CGT-Force Ouvrier and the General Confederation of Cadres. The French trade unions, formerly truly mass organizations, united St. 30% of wage earners now claim 1.5 million members (10% of the wage labor force). However, the vast majority of this number are functionaries working for hire (for example, in the FDCT – 810 thousand out of 865 thousand declared members).

Among the business associations, the largest is the Movement of French Companies (Medef), which groups 750,000 firms. Medef takes an active part in the development of economic policy, gives recommendations to the government on foreign economic issues, and, along with trade unions, participates in the regulation of the labor market and in the management of the social sphere.

Politics of France