The French Presidential Election
Since 1958 and the advent of the Fifth Republic in France, the President of the Republic has been the pillar of our institutions. He or she is elected by direct universal suffrage every five years.
Dates of the election
The French Presidential Election is to take place on Sunday 22 April and Sunday 6 May 2012 in mainland France.
The list of candidates
The Constitutional Council announced the list of the 10 candidates for the Presidential Election on 19 March 2012.
How is the President of the Republic elected in France?
In France, the President of the Republic is elected for a period of five years. French citizens having reached the age of majority vote in a single- or dual-round uninominal ballot by direct suffrage.
If a candidate obtains an absolute majority, being half of all votes plus one, he or she is elected in the first round, which has never happened under the Fifth Republic.
If no candidate obtains an absolute majority, a second round is held two weeks later between the two candidates in the lead at the end of the first round. The person who receives a simple majority, meaning the greatest number of votes, is elected President of the Republic.
Since the constitutional reform of 23 July 2008, tenure of the role of President is restricted “two consecutive mandates”.
Who can vote in the Presidential Election?
In France, voting is open to all citizens:
with French nationality;
aged eighteen or over on the day of the election;
with civil and political rights;
appearing on the electoral registers.
The role of the President of the Republic in institutions
According to article 5 of the French Constitution, the President of the Republic represents the authority of the State. Through arbitration, he or she ensures adherence to the Constitution, normal operation of the public authorities and State continuity.
In terms of external relations, he or she is guarantor of national independence, territorial integrity and adherence to treaties agreed by France. The Constitution has made him or her Head of the Armed Forces. The Constitution and institutional practice also give him or her a major diplomatic role. This is known as a reserved domain.
The President of the Republic has the authority to appoint the Prime Minister. The President of the Republic also appoints all ministers, as proposed by the Prime Minister. He or she chairs the Council of Ministers, which is held at the Elysée Palace.
In times of cohabitation (that is when the President is from a different political party than the majority of the members of parliament), the President must appoint the Prime Minister from within the parliamentary majority.
The President of the Republic also has the power to hold a referendum to consult the French people for one of two reasons: to reform the Constitution or adopt a law.