Elections in France
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Politics and government of
France is a representative democracy. Public officials in the legislative and executive branches are either elected by the citizens (directly or indirectly) or appointed by elected officials. Referendums may also be called to consult the French citizenry directly on a particular question, especially one which concerns amendment to the Constitution.
France elects on its national level a head of state – the president – and a legislature
- The president is elected for a five-year term (previously, seven years), directly by the citizens (see Election of the President of the French Republic).
- The Parliament (Parlement) has two chambers.
- The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) has 577 members, elected for a five-year term in single seat-constituencies directly by the citizens.
- The Senate (Sénat) has 348 members, 328 of which are elected for six-year terms by an electoral college consisting of elected representatives from each département, 8 of which are elected from other dependencies, and 12 of which are elected by the French Assembly of French Citizens Abroad (Assemblée des Français de l'étranger) which has replaced the High Council of French Citizens Abroad (Conseil Supérieur des Français de l'Étranger) a 155-member assembly elected by citizens living abroad.
See Government of France for more details about these political structures.
In addition, French citizens elect a variety of local governments. There also are public elections for some non-political positions, such as those for the judges of courts administering labor law (conseils de prud'hommes), elected by workers and employers, or those for judges administering cases of rural land leases.
France does not have a full-fledged two-party system; that is, a system where, though many political parties may exist, only two parties are relevant to the dynamics of power. However French politics displays some tendencies characterizing a two-party system in which power alternates between relatively stable coalitions, each being led by a major party: on the left, the Socialist Party, on the right, the UMP and its predecessors. See politics of France for more details.
Elections are always held on Sundays in France. The campaigns end at midnight the Friday before the election; then, on election Sunday, by law, no polls can be published, no electoral publication and broadcasts can be made. The voting stations open at 8 am and close at 6 pm in small towns or at 8 pm in cities, depending on prefectoral decisions. By law, publication of results or estimates is prohibited prior to that time; such results are however often available from the media of e.g. Belgium and Switzerland, or from foreign Internet sites, prior to that time. The first estimate of the results are thus known at Sunday, 8pm, Paris time; one consequence is that voters in e.g. French Guiana, Martinique and Guadeloupe knew the probable results of elections whereas they had not finished voting, which allegedly discouraged them from voting. For this reason, since the 2000s, elections in French possessions in the Americas, as well as embassies and consulates there, are held on Saturdays as a special exemption.
With the exception of senatorial election, for which there is an electoral college, the voters are French citizens over the age of 18 registered on the electoral rolls. For municipal and European elections, citizens aged 18 or older of other European Union countries may decide to vote in France. Registration is not compulsory, but the absence of registration precludes the possibility of voting. Currently, all youths reaching the age of 18 are automatically registered.
Citizens may register either in their place of residence or in a place where they have been on the roll of taxpayers for local taxes for at least 5 years. A citizen may not be legally registered in more than one place. Citizens living abroad may register at the consulate responsible for the region in which they live.
Only citizens legally registered as voters can run for public office.
There are exceptions to the above rules. Convicted criminals may be deprived of their civic rights, which include the right to vote, for a certain period of time depending on the crime. In particular, elected officials who have abused public funds may be deprived of the right to run for national public office for as long as 10 years. The application of such rules in the case of certain politicians has been controversial; see for instance the case of Alain Juppé.
Voting by proxy is possible when the citizen cannot easily come to vote (reasons include: health problems, the citizen does not live in the voting consistuency, he or she is away for work or vacations, he or she is jailed yet has not been sentenced and deprived of civic rights etc.). The citizen designates a proxy, who must be a voter from the same commune. The designation of the proxy must be made before a legally capable witness: a judge, a judicial clerk, or an officier of judicial police, or, outside of France, before an ambassador or consul. In the case of handicapped or severely ill people, an officer of judicial police or delegate thereof can be sent to the home of the citizen to witness the designation. The procedure is meant to avoid pressures on voters.
Electoral system 
In all elections where there is a single official to be elected for a given area, including the two major national elections (the election of the President of the Republic and the election of the members of the National Assembly), two-round runoff voting is used.
Voting procedures 
In general, voting is done using paper and manual counting. The voter gets pre-printed bulletins from a table at the entrance of the voting office (they are also provided through the mail), as well as an envelope. They enter the isoloir, or isolation booth, where they're hidden from sight, and insert the appropriate bulletin into the envelope. They walk to the ballot box and show their voter registration card (not compulsory) and are required to prove their identity (in towns of more than 5000 inhabitants, an identification document must be shown). After the officials have acknowledged their right to vote, the ballot box is opened and the voter inserts the envelope. One of the officials traditionally loudly says "a voté", which can be translated as "your ballot has been cast". It is purely ceremonial and has a double meaning: the voter's voice will be taken into account and they've accomplished their civic duty. They then sign the voters' list, and their registration card is stamped.
Procedures differ when electronic voting, not widespread in France, is used in some cities, despite some controversy about its safety and effectiveness.
Latest election 
|Candidates||Parties||1st round||2nd round|
|François Hollande||Socialist Party (Parti socialiste)||PS||10,272,705||28.63%||18,000,668||51.64%|
|Nicolas Sarkozy||Union for a Popular Movement (Union pour un mouvement populaire)||UMP||9,753,629||27.18%||16,860,685||48.36%|
|Marine Le Pen||National Front (Front national)||FN||6,421,426||17.90%|
|Jean-Luc Mélenchon||Left Front (Front de gauche)||FG||3,984,822||11.10%|
|François Bayrou||Democratic Movement (Mouvement démocrate)||MoDem||3,275,122||9.13%|
|Eva Joly||Europe Écologie–The Greens (Europe Écologie–Les Verts)||EELV||828,345||2.31%|
|Nicolas Dupont-Aignan||Arise the Republic (Debout la République)||DLR||643,907||1.79%|
|Philippe Poutou||New Anticapitalist Party (Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste)||NPA||411,160||1.15%|
|Nathalie Arthaud||Workers' Struggle (Lutte Ouvrière)||LO||202,548||0.56%|
|Jacques Cheminade||Solidarity and Progress (Solidarité et Progrès)||SP||89,545||0.25%|
|Spoilt and null votes||701,190||1.92%||2,154,956||5.82%|
|Table of results ordered by number of votes received in first round. Official results by Constitutional Council of France.|
|Parties and coalitions||First round||Second round||Total|
|Socialist Party (Parti socialiste)||PS||7,617,996||29.35%||22||9,420,426||40.91%||258||280||48.53%||94|
|Miscellaneous Left (Divers gauche)||DVG||881,339||3.40%||1||709,409||3.11%||21||22||3.81%||7|
|Europe Ecology – The Greens (Europe Écologie – Les Verts)||EELV||1,418,141||5.46%||1||828,916||3.60%||16||17||2.95%||13|
|Radical Party of the Left (Parti radical de gauche)||PRG||429,059||1.65%||1||538,324||2.34%||11||12||2.08%||5|
|Presidential majority (Left)||10,346,535||39.86%||25||11,497,075||49.93%||306||331||57.70%||119|
|Union for a Popular Movement (Union pour un mouvement populaire)||UMP||7,037,471||27.12%||9||8,740,625||37.95%||185||194||33.62%||119|
|Miscellaneous right (Divers droite)||DVD||910,392||3.51%||1||418,135||1.82%||14||15||2.60%||6|
|New Centre (Nouveau Centre)||NC||569,890||2.20%||1||568,288||2.47%||11||12||2.08%||10|
|Radical Party (Parti radical)||PRV||321,054||1.24%||0||311,211||1.35%||6||6||1.04%||12|
|Centrist Alliance (Alliance centriste)||AC||156,026||0.60%||0||123,352||0.54%||2||2||0.35%||2|
|Total Parliamentary Right||8,994,833||34.67%||11||10,161,611||44.13%||218||229||39.69%||116|
|Left Front (Front de gauche)||FDG||1,792,923||6.91%||0||249,525||1.08%||10||10||1.73%||8|
|National Front (Front national)||FN||3,528,373||13.60%||0||842,684||3.66%||2||2||0.35%||2|
|Regionalists and separatists||REG||145,825||0.56%||0||135,534||0.59%||2||2||0.35%||2|
|Centre for France (Le Centre pour la France)||MoDem||458,046||1.76%||0||113,196||0.49%||2||2||0.35%||1|
|Spoilt and null votes||420,749||1.60%||928,411||3.88%|
|Votes cast / turnout||26,373,299||57.23%||23,957,594||55.41%|
|Source: Ministry of the Interior|
Past elections and referenda 
Indirect presidential elections 
Other elections 
As well as Presidential and legislative elections, France also has municipal, cantonal, regional, European, and (indirect) Senatorial elections.
Regional elections have been held since 1986 to elect regional councillors and regional presidents: all elected to serve 6-year terms.
European Parliament 
Elections for the French delegation to the European parliament are held every five years.
French senators are renewed by halves every six years through an indirect electoral college composed of elected officials and general, regional, and some local councillors.
Municipal elections to elect city mayors and councillors are held every six years.
See also 
- "Electoral code, article L55" (in (French)). Legifrance.gouv.fr. 1964-10-27. Retrieved 2012-05-06.
- "Electoral code, article R26" (in (French)). Legifrance.gouv.fr. 1964-10-27. Retrieved 2012-05-06.
- Law 77-808 of 19 July 1977 relative to publication and broadcasting of certain opinion polls, article 11
- "Electoral code, article L49" (in (French)). Legifrance.gouv.fr. Retrieved 2012-05-06.
- Electoral code, L44, LO127, L194
- Electoral code, R58
- Electoral code, R60
- Official results from the Ministry of the Interior
- thematic files from the Constitutional Council, including election results
- Adam Carr's Election Archive
- Laurent de Boissieu's Election Archive
- Will 2010 regional elections lead to political shake-up? gijon Internationale in English
- NSD: European Election Database – France publishes regional level election data; allows for comparisons of election results, 1993–2007