The President of the French Republic (French: Président de la
République française, French pronunciation: [pʁezidɑ̃ də
la ʁepyblik fʁɑ̃sɛz]) is the executive head of state of
the French Fifth Republic. In French terms, the presidency is the
supreme magistracy of the country.
The powers, functions and duties of prior presidential offices, and
their relation with the Prime Minister and Cabinet, have over time
differed with the various French constitutions since 1848 (the final
end of the French Monarchy). The President of the French Republic is
also the ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, Grand Master of the Légion
d'honneur and the Ordre national du Mérite, and honorary proto-canon
Basilica of St. John Lateran
Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.
The current President of
France is Emmanuel Macron, who succeeded
François Hollande on 14 May 2017.
3.1 Detailed constitutional powers
3.2 Presidential amnesties
4 Criminal responsibility and impeachment
5 Succession and incapacity
6 Died in office
7 Pay and official residences
8 Latest election
9 Living former Presidents
10 Lists relating to the Presidents of France
12 Further reading
13 External links
The presidency of
France was first publicly proposed during the July
Revolution of 1830, when it was offered to the Marquis de Lafayette,
who demurred in favor of Prince Louis Phillipe. 18 years later, during
the opening phases of the 2nd Republic, the title was created for a
popularly elected Head of state, the first of whom was Louis-Napoléon
Bonaparte, nephew of the Emperor. Bonaparte served until he staged an
auto coup against the republic, proclaiming himself Emperor Napoleon
Under the Third and Fourth Republic, which were parliamentary systems,
the office of President of the Republic was a largely ceremonial and
powerless one. The Constitution of the Fifth Republic greatly
increased the President's powers. A 1962 referendum changed the
constitution, so that the President would be directly elected by
universal suffrage and not by the Parliament.
In 2000, a referendum shortened the presidential term from seven years
to five years. A maximum of two consecutive terms was imposed after
the 2008 constitutional reform.
Further information: Presidential elections in France
Since the referendum on the direct election of the President of the
French Republic in 1962, the officeholder has been directly elected by
universal suffrage; he or she was previously elected by an electoral
After the referendum on the reduction of the mandate of the President
of the French Republic, 2000, the length of the term was reduced to
five years from the previous seven; the first election to a shorter
term was held in 2002. President
Jacques Chirac was first elected in
1995 and again in 2002. At that time, there was no limit on the number
of terms, so Chirac could have run again, but chose not to. He was
Nicolas Sarkozy on 16 May 2007.
Following a further change, the constitutional law on the
modernisation of the institutions of the Fifth Republic, 2008, a
President cannot serve more than two consecutive terms. François
Jacques Chirac are the only Presidents to date who have
served a full two terms (14 years for the former, 12 years for the
In order to be admitted as an official candidate, potential candidates
must receive signed nominations (informally known as parrainages, for
"sponsors") from more than 500 elected officials, mostly mayors. These
officials must be from at least 30 départements or overseas
collectivities, and no more than 10% of them should be from the same
département or collectivity. Furthermore, each official may
nominate only one candidate. There are exactly 45,543 elected
officials, including 33,872 mayors.
Spending and financing of campaigns and political parties are highly
regulated. There is a cap on spending, at approximately
20 million euros, and government public financing of 50% of
spending if the candidate scores more than 5%. If the candidate
receives less than 5% of the vote, the government funds €8,000,000
to the party (€4,000,000 paid in advance). Advertising on TV is
forbidden, but official time is given to candidates on public TV. An
independent agency regulates election and party financing.
French presidential elections are conducted via run-off voting, which
ensures that the elected president always obtains a majority: if no
candidate receives a majority of votes in the first round of voting,
the two highest-scoring candidates arrive at a run-off. After the
president is elected, he or she goes through a solemn investiture
ceremony called a "passation des pouvoirs" ("handing over of
French Fifth Republic
French Fifth Republic is a semi-presidential system. Unlike many
other European presidents, the French president is quite powerful.
Although it is the Prime Minister of
France and parliament that
oversee much of the nation's actual day-to-day affairs, the French
president wields significant influence and authority, especially in
the fields of national security and foreign policy.
The president's greatest power is his/her ability to choose the prime
minister. However, since the
French National Assembly
French National Assembly has the sole
power to dismiss the prime minister's government, the president is
forced to name a prime minister who can command the support of a
majority in the assembly.
When the majority of the Assembly has opposite political views to that
of the president, this leads to political cohabitation. In that case,
the president's power is diminished, since much of the de facto power
relies on a supportive prime minister and National Assembly, and is
not directly attributed to the post of president.
When the majority of the Assembly sides with them, the president can
take a more active role and may, in effect, direct government policy.
The prime minister is then the personal choice of the president, and
can be easily replaced if the administration becomes unpopular. This
device has been used in recent years by François Mitterrand, Jacques
Chirac, and François Hollande.
Since 2002, the mandate of the president and the Assembly are both
five years, and the two elections are close to each other. Therefore,
the likelihood of a "cohabitation" is lower. Among the powers of the
The president promulgates laws.
The president has a suspensive veto: when presented with a law, he or
she can request another reading of it by Parliament, but only once per
The president may also refer the law for review to the Constitutional
Council prior to promulgation.
The president may dissolve the French National Assembly.
The president may refer treaties or certain types of laws to popular
referendum, within certain conditions, among them the agreement of the
Prime minister or the parliament.
The president is the Commander-in-Chief of the French Armed Forces.
The president may order the use of nuclear weapons.
The president names but cannot dismiss the Prime Minister. The
president names and dismisses the other ministers, with the agreement
of the Prime Minister.
The president names most officials (with the assent of the cabinet).
The president names certain members of the
The president receives foreign ambassadors.
The president may grant a pardon (but not an amnesty) to convicted
criminals; the president can also lessen or suppress criminal
sentences. This was of crucial importance when
France still operated
the death penalty: criminals sentenced to death would generally
request that the president commute their sentence to life
All decisions of the president must be countersigned by the prime
minister, except dissolving the French National Assembly, choice of
prime minister, dispositions of Article 19.
Detailed constitutional powers
The constitutional attributions of the president are defined in Title
II of the Constitution of France.
Article 5 The President of the Republic shall see that the
Constitution is observed. He shall ensure, by his arbitration, the
proper functioning of the public authorities and the continuity of the
State. He shall be the guarantor of national independence, territorial
integrity and observance of treaties.
Article 8 The President of the Republic shall appoint the Prime
Minister. He shall terminate the appointment of the Prime Minister
when the latter tenders the resignation of the Government. On the
proposal of the Prime Minister, he shall appoint the other members of
the Government and terminate their appointments.
Article 9 The President of the Republic shall preside over the Council
Article 10 The President of the Republic shall promulgate Acts of
Parliament within fifteen days following the final adoption of an Act
and its transmission to the Government. He may, before the expiry of
this time limit, ask Parliament to reconsider the Act or sections of
the Act. Reconsideration shall not be refused. While the president has
to sign all acts adopted by parliament into law, he cannot refuse to
do so and exercise a kind of right of veto; his only power in that
matter is to ask for a single reconsideration of the law by parliament
and this power is subject to countersigning by the Prime minister.
Article 11 The President could submit laws to the people in a
referendum with advice and consent of the cabinet.
Article 12 The President of the Republic may, after consulting the
Prime Minister and the Presidents of the assemblies, declare the
National Assembly dissolved. A general election shall take place not
less than twenty days and not more than forty days after the
dissolution. The National Assembly shall convene as of right on the
second Thursday following its election. Should it so convene outside
the period prescribed for the ordinary session, a session shall be
called by right for a fifteen-day period. No further dissolution shall
take place within a year following this election.
Article 13 The President of the Republic shall sign the ordinances and
decrees deliberated upon in the Council of Ministers. He shall make
appointments to the civil and military posts of the State. [...]
Article 14 The President of the Republic shall accredit ambassadors
and envoys extraordinary to foreign powers ; foreign ambassadors
and envoys extraordinary shall be accredited to him.
Article 15 The President of the Republic shall be commander-in-chief
of the armed forces. He shall preside over the higher national defence
councils and committees.
Article 16 Where the institutions of the Republic, the independence of
the Nation, the integrity of its territory or the fulfilment of its
international commitments are under serious and immediate threat, and
where the proper functioning of the constitutional public authorities
is interrupted, the President of the Republic shall take the measures
required by these circumstances, after formally consulting the Prime
Minister, the Presidents of the assemblies and the Constitutional
Council. He shall inform the Nation of these measures in a message.
The measures must stem from the desire to provide the constitutional
public authorities, in the shortest possible time, with the means to
carry out their duties. The
Constitutional Council shall be consulted
with regard to such measures. Parliament shall convene as of right.
The National Assembly shall not be dissolved during the exercise of
the emergency powers.
Article 16, allowing the President a limited form of rule by decree
for a limited period of time in exceptional circumstance, has been
used only once, by
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle during the Algerian War, from 23
April to 29 September 1961.
Article 17 The President of the Republic has the right to grant
Article 18 The President of the Republic shall communicate with the
two assemblies of Parliament by means of messages, which he shall
cause to be read and which shall not be the occasion for any debate.
He can also give an address in front of the Congress of
Versailles. Outside sessions, Parliament shall be convened especially
for this purpose.
Article 19 Acts of the President of the Republic, other than those
provided for under articles 8 (first paragraph), 11, 12, 16, 18, 54,
56 and 61, shall be countersigned by the Prime Minister and, where
required, by the appropriate ministers.
Article 49 Para 3 allows the president to adopt a law on his
authority. To this end, the prime minister goes before the lower and
upper houses, reads out the bill to the legislators and closes with
"the administration engages its responsibility" on the foregoing.
Deprived of Gaullist party support halfway into his seven-year term
spanning 1974 to 1981, president
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing relied
heavily on this provision to stalemate
Paris mayor Jacques Chirac's
attempt to bring him back under Gaullist control.
There is a tradition of so-called "presidential amnesties", which are
something of a misnomer: after the election of a president, and of a
National Assembly of the same party, parliament traditionally votes a
law granting amnesty for some petty crimes. This practice has been
increasingly criticized, particularly because it is believed to incite
people to commit traffic offences in the months preceding the
election. Such an amnesty law may also authorize the president to
designate individuals who have committed certain categories of crimes
to be offered amnesty, if certain conditions are met. Such individual
measures have been criticized for the political patronage that they
allow. Still, it is argued that such amnesty laws help reduce prison
overpopulation. An amnesty law was passed in 2002; none have yet been
passed as of January 2008[update].
The difference between an amnesty and a presidential pardon is that
the former clears all subsequent effects of the sentencing, as though
the crime had not been committed, while pardon simply relieves the
sentenced individual from part or all of the remainder of the
Criminal responsibility and impeachment
Articles 67 and 68 organize the regime of criminal responsibility of
the President. They were reformed by a 2007 constitutional act, in
order to clarify a situation that previously resulted in legal
The President of the Republic enjoys immunity during his term: he
cannot be requested to testify before any jurisdiction, he cannot be
prosecuted, etc. However, the statute of limitation is suspended
during his term, and enquiries and prosecutions can be restarted, at
the latest one month after he leaves office.
The President is not deemed personally responsible for his actions in
his official capacity, except where his actions are indicted before
International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court (
France is a member of the ICC and
the President is a French citizen as another following the Court's
rules) or where impeachment is moved against him.
Impeachment can be
pronounced by the Republican High Court, a special court convened from
both houses of Parliament on the proposal of either House, should the
president have failed to discharge his duties in a way that evidently
precludes the continuation of his term.
Succession and incapacity
Upon the death, removal, or resignation of the President, the
President of the Senate takes over as acting president. Alain
Poher is the only person to have served in this temporary position,
and has done so twice: the first time in 1969 after Charles de
Gaulle's resignation and a second time in 1974 after Georges
Pompidou's death. In this situation, the President of the Senate
becomes Acting President of the Republic; he or she does not become
the new President of the Republic as elected and therefore does not
have to resign from his or her position as President of the Senate. In
spite of his title as Acting President of the Republic, Poher is
France as a former President and is listed in the
presidents' gallery on the official presidential website. This is in
contrast to acting presidents from the Third Republic.
The first round of a new presidential election must be organized no
sooner than twenty days and no later than thirty-five days following
the vacancy of the presidency. Because fifteen days can separate the
first and second rounds of a presidential election, this means that
the President of the Senate can only act as President of the Republic
for a maximum period of fifty days. During this interim period, acting
presidents are not allowed to dismiss the national assembly nor are
they allowed to call for a referendum or initiate any constitutional
If there is no president of the senate, the powers of the president of
the republic are exercised by the "Gouvernement", meaning the Cabinet.
This has been interpreted by some constitutional academics as meaning
first the Prime Minister and, if he is himself not able to act, the
members of the cabinet in the order of the list of the decree that
nominated them. This is in fact unlikely to happen, because if the
president of the Senate is not able to act, the Senate will normally
name a new president of the Senate, that will act as President of the
Third French Republic
Third French Republic the President of the Council of
Ministers acted as President whenever office was vacant. According
to article 7 of the Constitution, if the presidency becomes vacant for
any reason, or if the president becomes incapacitated, upon the
request of the gouvernement, the
Constitutional Council may rule, by a
majority vote, that the presidency is to be temporarily assumed by
the President of the Senate. If the Council rules that the incapacity
is permanent, the same procedure as for the resignation is applied, as
If the President cannot attend meetings, including meetings of the
Council of Ministers, he can ask the Prime Minister to attend in his
stead (Constitution, article 21). This clause has been applied by
presidents travelling abroad, ill, or undergoing surgery.
During the Second French Republic, there was a Vice President. The
only person to ever hold the position was Henri Georges Boulay de la
Died in office
Four French presidents have died in office:
Marie François Sadi Carnot, who was assassinated by Sante Geronimo
Caserio on 25 June 1894, aged 56.
Félix Faure, who died on 16 February 1899, aged 58.
Paul Doumer, who was assassinated by
Paul Gorguloff on 7 May 1932,
aged 75, the oldest to die in office.
Georges Pompidou, who died on 2 April 1974, aged 62.
Pay and official residences
The President of the Republic is paid a salary according to a pay
grade defined in comparison to the pay grades of the most senior
members of the
French Civil Service ("out of scale", hors échelle,
those whose pay grades are known as letters and not as numeric
indices). In addition he is paid a residence stipend of 3%, and a
function stipend of 25% on top of the salary and residence indemnity.
This gross salary and these indemnities are the same as those of the
Prime Minister, and are 50% higher than the highest paid to other
members of the government, which is itself defined as twice the
average of the highest (pay grade G) and the lowest (pay grade A1)
salaries in the "out of scale" pay grades. Using the 2008 "out of
scale" pay grades this amounts to a monthly pay of 20,963 €,
which fits the 19,000 € quoted to the press in early 2008. Using
the pay grades starting from 1 July 2009, this amounts to a gross
monthly pay of 21,131 €.
The salary and the residence stipend are taxable for income tax.
The official residence and office of the president is the Élysée
Palace in Paris. Other presidential residences include:
the Hôtel de Marigny; standing next to the Élysée Palace, houses
foreign official guests;
Château de Rambouillet
Château de Rambouillet is normally open to visitors when not used
for (rare) official meetings;
the Domaine National de Marly is normally open to visitors when not
used for (rare) official meetings;
the Fort de Brégançon, in southeastern France, the official
presidential vacation residence until 2013, became a national monument
and opened to the public in 2014. The president's private quarters
there are still available for his (rare) use. La Lanterne became the
official presidential vacation residence at that time.
Main article: French presidential election, 2017
e • d Summary of the 23 April and 7 May 2017 French
presidential election results
Marine Le Pen
Debout la France
New Anticapitalist Party
Popular Republican Union
Solidarity and Progress
Official results published by the
Constitutional Council – 1st round
result · 2nd round result
Living former Presidents
There are four living former French presidents:
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (age 92)
According to French law, Former Presidents have guaranteed lifetime
pension defined according to the pay grade of the Councillors of
State, a courtesy diplomatic passport, and, according to the
French Constitution (Article 56), membership of the Constitutional
They also get personnel, an apartment and/or office, and other
amenities, though the legal basis for these is disputed. In 2008,
according to an answer by the services of the Prime Minister to a
question from member of the National Assembly René Dosière,
these facilities comprised: a security detail, a car with a chauffeur,
first class train tickets and an office or housing space, maintained
by the State. Two people service this space. In addition, the State
funds 7 permanent assistants.
President Hollande announced a reform of the system in 2016. Former
Presidents will no longer receive a car with chauffeur, and the
personnel in their living space were cut as well. Additionally, the
number of assistants available for their use has been reduced, but a
state flat or house remains available for former Presidents. Train
tickets are also available if the trip is justified by the office of
the former President. The security personnel around former Presidents
The most recent president to die was
François Mitterrand (served
1981–1995) on 8 January 1996, aged 79.
Lists relating to the Presidents of France
List of Presidents of France
List of Presidents of
France by age
List of Presidents of
France by tenure
List of French non-presidential heads of state by tenure
List of personal coats of arms of Presidents of the French Republic
^ United Nations Heads of State Protocol and Liaison Service Heads of
Government - Public List Ministers For Foreign Affairs
^ Président de la République : 14 910 € bruts par mois, Le
Journal Du Net
Emmanuel Macron takes office as French president".
www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2017-05-14.
^ Loi no 62-1292 du 6 novembre 1962 relative à l'élection du
Président de la République au suffrage universel, article 4.
^ Décret no 2001-213 du 8 novembre 2001 portant application de la loi
no 62-1292 du 6 novembre 1962 relative à l'élection du Président de
la République au suffrage universel, article 6.
^ Dépenses de campagne: énorme ardoise pour LO, la LCR s'en tire
sans déficit[permanent dead link], Metro France, 24 April 2007 (in
^ From 1875 to 2008, the President was prohibited from entering the
houses of Parliament.
^ Loi constitutionnelle no 2007-238 du 23 février 2007 portant
modification du titre IX de la Constitution (in French).
^ For all this section, see Articles 67 and 68 and La responsabilité
pénale du président de la République, Revue française de droit
constitutionnel, n° 49 –2002/1, P.U.F., ISBN 978-2-13-052789-3
^ The exact title is "President of the Senate, exercising
provisionally the functions of the President of the Republic"; see how
Alain Poher is referred to on signing statutes into law, e.g. law
^ Loi du 25 février 1875 relative à l'organisation des pouvoirs
publics, article 7: "In case of a vacancy due to a decease or for any
cause, the two houses of Parliament elect a new president. In the
meantime, the executive power is vested in the council of ministers."
^ Ordonnance no 58-1067 du 7 novembre 1958 portant loi organique sur
le Conseil constitutionnel (in French).
^ Loi no 2002-1050 du 6 août 2002 de finances rectificative pour 2002
^ Décret no 2002-1058 du 6 août 2002 relatif au traitement des
membres du Gouvernement, article 1 (in French).
^ Grille de salaires de la fonction publique[permanent dead link],
^ Le salaire du Premier ministre a doublé depuis 2002, citing an
interview given by
Nicolas Sarkozy to Le Parisien
^ Décret no 2009-824 du 3 juillet 2009 portant majoration à compter
du 1er juillet 2009 de la rémunération des personnels civils et
militaires de l'État, des personnels des collectivités territoriales
et des établissements publics d'hospitalisation et portant
attribution de points d'indice majoré (in French).
^ "General tax code, art. 80 undecies A" (in French).
Legifrance.gouv.fr. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
^ Loi no 55-366 du 3 avril 1955 relative au développement des
crédits affectés aux dépenses du ministère des finances et des
affaires économiques pour l'exercice 1955.
^ Arrêté du 11 février 2009 relatif au passeport diplomatique,
^ The current system for providing personnel and other amenities to
the former French presidents was devised in 1981 by Michel Charasse,
then advisor to president François Mitterrand, in order to care for
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and the widow of former
president Georges Pompidou. See Senate, 19 June 2008 Proceedings
^ Question #140, answer published in the Journal Officiel de la
République Française on 24 June 2008 page: 5368
^ (in French) Hollande rabote les privilèges des anciens présidents,
Le Monde, Octobre, 5, 2016
How Powerful Is France's President? A primer from the Council on
John Gaffney. Political Leadership in France: From Charles de Gaulle
Nicolas Sarkozy (Palgrave Macmillan; 2012),
ISBN 978-0-230-36037-2. Explores mythology and symbolism in
French political culture through a study of the personas crafted by de
Gaulle and his five successors.
Links to related articles
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