President (France)

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President of the
French Republic

Armoiries republique française
Emblem of the Presidency of
the Republic

Emmanuel Macron (cropped) .jpg
Acting President
Emmanuel Macron
since May 14, 2017
Official seat Elysee Palace
Term of office 5 years (successive re-election easily possible)
Creation of office 4th October 1958
position Head of state
State authority executive
Salutation Monsieur le Président (informal)
Excellence (in diplomatic correspondence)
Last choice May 7, 2017
Deputy President of the Senate
Official seat of the President, the Élysée Palace

The French president is the head of state of the French Republic and ex officio also Co-Princes of Andorra . In French, his title is Président de la République française ; The abbreviated forms Président de la République and le Président are common . His official residence is the Élysée Palace in Paris. In contrast to many other parliamentary democracies , in which the respective president has predominantly representative tasks, the French president has a high degree of political power.

Since May 14, 2017 , at the age of 39, Emmanuel Macron has been France's youngest president to date when he took office.

Mode of election, term of office and position

Basically, the president selected are all French citizens over 18 years (since 2011; previously 23) have been completed and are supported by 500 elected officials, the 30 different departments or overseas territories have represented, and since the constitutional amendment April 14 In 2011, a maximum of 10% of the total number of supporting elected officials may come from the same department / overseas territory. The president is elected directly by the people every five years. An absolute majority is required . If this is not achieved in the first ballot, there is a runoff ballot between the two candidates with the most votes in the second ballot . Re-election is possible, but for a maximum of two consecutive terms of office.

The term of office was from 1875 to 1940 and from 1946 to 2002 seven years ( Septennat ); the number of re-elections was not limited. In 2000, under President Jacques Chirac , the term of office was reduced to five years ( quinquennat ) from the 2002 election . This measure is intended to reduce the likelihood that the president and the prime minister, supported by parliament, belong to different political camps (so-called cohabitation ). The original term of seven years was also criticized for reasons of lack of democratic control (options for voting out are very limited). Since then, more than two consecutive terms of office have been excluded.

Factors that justify the outstanding political position of the French President are:

  • He is directly elected by the people (since 1962)
  • He has considerable political powers :
    • He has the right to dissolve the National Assembly .
    • He appoints the Prime Minister and chairs the Council of Ministers .
    • He prepares the laws before they come into force and can force further deliberations on laws that have already been passed and have referendums carried out.
    • He is the commander in chief of the armed forces .
    • He has the right to pardon .
    • In the French constitutional reality since the beginning of the Fifth Republic in 1958, there has been the Domaine réservé , a "reserved area" which assigns the president responsibility for foreign policy and armed forces. For example, he can represent the country alone at summits .
  • Opposite him is the prime minister , who is appointed by him but is responsible to parliament .

The French President does not have to be accountable for his budget. In addition, Parliament can only vote him out for high treason and behavior that is “obviously incompatible with the exercise of his office”.

The strong position of the president developed around 1958. Before that, between 1876 and 1958, the average length of reign was eight months; after 1789 the country had 16 constitutions. In the Algerian war, finally, the military began to act “without feedback” with politics. The constitution of the Fifth Republic, with its fewer rights for parliament and prime minister, was criticized by the then opposition politician François Mitterrand (1916–1996) as a “permanent coup d'état” ( Le Coup d'État permanent ).

The President's own machine

The governing apparatus of the president has around 150 employees. The general secretary is the head of this administration. His official title is «Secrétaire général du cabinet du président de la République française».


The salary of the French President since an increase in autumn 2007 - by 170 percent - like that of the Prime Minister, has been a gross of 240,000 euros a year. In addition, he receives an annual budget in the millions, for which no account has to be given; this includes, for example, free board and lodging in the palace or holiday homes. François Hollande announced a pay cut in his election campaign and, as one of his first acts, cut his salary and that of his ministers by 30 percent.

Succession arrangements

In the event of the President's death or resignation, official business is transferred to the President of the Senate , who, however, only exercises the office in an executive manner. This was the case for the first time on April 28, 1969 after Charles de Gaulle's resignation and again on April 2, 1974 after Georges Pompidou's death. Because the office is only represented on an interim basis , it is not necessary for the Senate President to step down from his position. Nevertheless, Alain Poher , who has been the only President of the Senate to date to take over the office of President, is regarded as a former President and is listed in the Presidential Gallery on the Elysée Palace website .

In principle, a new election is scheduled after the President's death or resignation , the first round of which must take place no earlier than 20 days and no later than 35 days after the office has been discharged. As there can be 15 days between the first and second ballot, the President of the Senate can conduct the President's official business for a maximum of 50 days. He does not have certain competencies of the President:

  • He must not dissolve the National Assembly.
  • He is not allowed to call referendums.
  • He may not initiate any constitutional changes.

If there is no Senate President in office at the time the office of President is discharged, the powers of the President are transferred to the Cabinet. Some constitutional lawyers interpret this in such a way that the prime minister and, if he is unable to attend, the cabinet members take over the representation of the president. Such a case is extremely unlikely, as the Senate would elect a president in such a case.

In the Third Republic (1871–1940), Article 7 applied ("In the event of death or any other cause, the two chambers meet immediately to elect a new president. In the meantime, the Council of Ministers has executive power.")

Former presidents

Former presidents also enjoy privileges . For example, they (and their respective spouses) traditionally have the right to travel first class for free on Air France and SNCF . According to one estimate, the sum of these and other privileges (apartment, staff) cost up to 2 million euros per person in 2012, and rose to 3.9 million euros per person in 2016.


Co-Prince of Andorra

As head of state of France, the French president is ex officio, alongside the bishop of Urgell, one of the two co- princes of the Principality of Andorra . Most of the associated obligations are assumed by a personal representative in the small state. Since the introduction of the Andorran constitution of March 14, 1993, the role of the two co-princes has been mainly of a ceremonial nature.

With the Pope , who is head of the Holy See and the Vatican State , both are heads of two subjects of international law.

See also


  • Udo Kempf: The French political system . Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden, 4th edition, 2007, ISBN 978-3-531-32973-4
  • Hans-Georg Franzke: The competencies of the French President . In: The State . Journal of State Theory, Public Law and Constitutional History 38 (1999), pp. 86-106.

Web links

Commons : Presidents of France  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The current design of the emblem is at Fri: Président de la République française see
  2. The election of the President . French Embassy website, February 15, 2016, accessed July 29, 2016.
  3. Qu'est-ce que le domaine réservé? Website of the “Direction de l'Information Légale et Administrative”, January 2, 2014, accessed on July 29, 2016 (French).
  4. ^ France: President can be removed from office in future . Der Tagesspiegel , February 19, 2007, accessed on July 29, 2016.
  5. ^ Alfred Pletsch: Regional Geography France. WBG, Darmstadt 2003, 2nd edition, ISBN 3-534-11691-7 , here p. 330.
  6. Pletsch, p. 331
  7. ^ François Mitterrand: Le Coup d'État permanent. Plon, Paris 1964
  8. Parliament approves salary adjustment: wage increase for President Sarkozy . Neue Zürcher Zeitung , October 30, 2007, accessed on July 29, 2016.
  9. Michael Huber: President Nicolas Sarkozy doubles his income . Die Presse , October 30, 2007, accessed July 29, 2016.
  10. ^ Rudolf Balmer: François Hollande saves: I am the budget . , May 17, 2012, accessed on July 29, 2016.
  11. ^ Loi relative à l'organization des pouvoirs publics du 25 février 1875
  12. Sylvie Stephan: Ex-First Lady privilege: Carla Bruni flies first class at state expense . Rheinische Post , July 12, 2013, accessed on July 29, 2016.
  13. ^ Rudolf Balmer: Lifelong privileges: France's expensive ex-presidents . Neue Zürcher Zeitung , April 27, 2016, accessed on July 29, 2016.
  14. ^ Constitution of the Principality of Andorra of April 28, 1993 , Articles 43–49., October 13, 2003, accessed July 29, 2016.