French presidential elections under the Fifth Republic

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There have been eleven presidential elections in France since the establishment of the Fifth Republic in 1958.

Originally the president was elected by the Collège des Notables (an assembly of "notable electors") that included around 80,000 county and city/town councillors (who had been elected locally).[1]

Following the 1962 de Gaulle's constitutional reform (the constitutional Act of November 6, 1962) the president has been directly elected by the people of France.[2]

Until the French constitutional revision of September 24, 2000, the president had been elected for a seven-year term. Under this revision the term was reduced to five years.[2]

Currently, the President of the French Republic is elected to a five-year term in a two-round election under Article 7 of the Constitution: if no candidate secures an absolute majority (including blank and void ballots) of votes in the first round, a second round is held two weeks later between the two candidates who received the most votes.[3] Since 1965, when the current (direct) election system was introduced, every election has gone to a second round.[4]

The latest election was in 2017. The first round was held on 23 April 2017, the second on 7 May.[5]

List of elections under the Fifth Republic[edit]

Interesting facts[edit]

  • Three presidents, Charles de Gaulle, François Mitterrand, and Jacques Chirac, were elected to second terms.
  • Two presidents, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, and Nicolas Sarkozy, were defeated in the second round. Sarkozy aimed to be a candidate again in 2016, but was defeated in his party's primary.
  • Two Presidents, Chirac and Mitterrand, had lost at least once in the second round before being elected.
  • Only three Prime Ministers, de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou and Chirac, were subsequently elected president. Many others have tried and lost.
  • Only one parent-child pair have made it to the second round: Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002 and his daughter Marine in 2017.
  • Only two women have reached the second round: Ségolène Royal in 2007 and Marine Le Pen in 2017.
  • Three winners of the first round lost in the second round: Mitterrand in 1974, Giscard d'Estaing in 1981 and Jospin in 1995.
  • The highest percentage of votes won in the second round was by Chirac in 2002 with 82.21%, followed by Macron in 2017 with 66.10%.
  • The 2017 second round was the first in which neither candidate represented a major parliamentary party.


  1. ^ Philip Thody (31 July 1989). French Caesarism from Napoleon I to Charles de Gaulle. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 105–. ISBN 978-1-349-20089-4. 
  2. ^ a b Susana Galera (1 January 2010). Judicial Review: A Comparative Analysis Inside the European Legal System. Council of Europe. pp. 71–. ISBN 978-92-871-6723-1. 
  3. ^ "Constitution du 4 octobre 1958 - Article 7". Légifrance. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  4. ^ William G. Mayer (2004). The Making of the Presidential Candidates 2004. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 266–. ISBN 978-0-7425-2919-9. 
  5. ^ "John Oliver Explains Why the French Presidential Election Is More Important Than You Think". Newsweek. 2017-04-17. Retrieved 2017-04-22.