The departmental council ( French conseil départemental ) is the highest elected collegiate body of a French department . Until 2015, the body was called the General Council ( Conseil général ; German about "general council").
The decentralization laws of 1982 strengthened the position of the General Council vis-à-vis the government-appointed prefect . In particular, the executive branch of the department has since been headed by the President of the General Council (French président du conseil général ), who is elected by the General Council. The members of the General Council, the General Councils (French conseillers généraux ), were directly elected for six years. Half of the members were re-elected every three years. The cantons served as electoral districts , so these elections became cantonal elections(French élections cantonales ) called.
For the first time for the elections on March 22 and 29, 2015, the previous General Councils were replaced by the Department Councils and the electoral system changed. The innovation had become necessary in the course of the reform of the regional authorities with the reduction in the number of regions, the creation of metropolises and new municipal associations. The reform takes account of demographic developments and ensures more effective management of the area. In addition, it eliminates the sometimes large disparities in the cantons, which had led to an unequal representation of the electorate.
Electoral process since 2015
The elections to the departmental council take place every six years. When electing this body, the majority voting procedure in the form of the so-called Romance majority voting system with - if necessary - two ballots is used. In each canton, a candidate pair ( binôme ) is available for election, in which two people of different sex (and one representative of the same sex each) run together.
In the first ballot, the couple is elected that received an absolute majority of the votes cast, if this corresponds to at least a quarter of the registered voters. If no pair of candidates wins an absolute majority, there is a second ballot in which the relative majority is sufficient. Only pairs of candidates who have received at least 12.5% of the votes of the eligible voters (registered voters) in the first ballot are admitted to the second ballot; with a turnout of 50%, this would in fact correspond to a quorum of 25%, since non-voters are taken into account here. If this quorum is not achieved by anyone, the two pairs of candidates who received the most votes in the first ballot will run in the runoff election.
The change in electoral law was particularly controversial because of the introduction of the binômes and the associated enlargement and redesign of the cantons. In the National Assembly only the socialist parliamentary group and some representatives of the PRG approved the bill , the Greens abstained by a majority, all other parties (including the majority of the PRG) voted against. The Senate rejected the binômes' proposal twice. The socialists justified the requirement of the "bînome" with the aim of striving for equal representation of women and men in the departmental councils. Before the reform, the proportion of women was 14 percent. The Gaullist and centrist parties criticized the government for trying to enforce equality by force and accepting the destruction of the existing local structures in return. The left opponents of the bill mainly criticized the fact that the majority vote was retained.
- French Embassy: “ Departmental elections 2015: New suffrage ensures equality between men and women ” ( Memento of the original from January 16, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
- Un binôme homme-femme sera désormais élu dans chaque canton. Le Monde.fr , April 17, 2013, accessed September 3, 2015 (French).
- Sénat: le binôme paritaire aux cantonales à nouveau rejeté. L'Express , March 15, 2013, accessed September 3, 2015 (French).
- Guillaume Perrault: Parité: des mariages forcés dans les départements. Le Figaro.fr , January 17, 2013, accessed September 3, 2015 (French).
- Le binôme paritaire aux cantonales adopté in extremis à l'Assemblée. L'Express , March 27, 2013, accessed September 3, 2015 (French).