Today, I wanted to detail how the elections take place in France. I get this question a lot from friends here in California. I’ll make sure to send them the link to this article!
If you’re looking for the French election vocabulary, please follow the link to another free article on French Today.
Let’s see how it works.
What Is The French Universal Suffrage?
Universal suffrage in France is a fundamental principle that ensures all adult citizens have the right to vote and participate in the democratic process.
It embodies the idea that every individual’s voice matters, regardless of their background, gender, or social status. Universal suffrage in France reflects a commitment to inclusivity and equal representation.
In practical terms, universal suffrage means that every eligible citizen, upon reaching the legal voting age, can exercise their right to vote in national, regional, and local elections. It allows individuals to express their opinions and preferences, shaping the composition of government bodies and influencing decision-making processes.
Did you know? The origins of universal suffrage in France can be traced back to the French Revolution, a transformative period in the late 18th century.
During this time, the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity emerged, laying the foundation for modern democracy.
The revolutionaries sought to dismantle the privileges of the monarchy and the aristocracy, advocating for the inclusion of all citizens in the political process.
It was in this context that the concept of universal suffrage began to take shape.
How Does the French Presidential Election Work?
The Presidential Election in France follows a two-round system, which involves multiple steps and stages. The president is elected for five years, compared to four years in the US.
First, eligible candidates announce their intention to run for president, usually representing political parties or standing as independent candidates. Among other requirements, each candidate needs 500 endorsements from mayors across the country.
Then, in the first round of voting, voters choose their candidate. If a candidate receives an absolute majority (over 50% of the votes), they are declared the winner.
But it’s never the case. If no candidate achieves an absolute majority, a second round is held. The top two candidates from the first round, who received the highest number of votes, advance to the second round.
In the second round, voters then choose between the two remaining candidates. The candidate who receives the majority of votes in the second round becomes the President of France for five years.
The French Parliamentary Elections Explained
France also holds parliamentary elections to select representatives for the National Assembly. These elections take place every five years, shortly after the presidential election. The National Assembly is responsible for making laws. Here is how it works!
Parliamentary elections in France follow a proportional representation system with a two-round voting process, similar to the presidential election.
In the first round, which takes place in individual constituencies, voters choose from various party lists rather than individual candidates. Each party presents a list of candidates for each constituency.
If a party list receives an absolute majority in the first round, meaning it secures more than 50% of the votes, they are declared the winners and receive a corresponding number of seats in the National Assembly.
However, if no party achieves an absolute majority, a second round is held. In the second round, only the parties that obtained at least 10% of the votes in the first round are allowed to participate.
The second round serves to determine the distribution of seats among the remaining parties. Seats are allocated proportionally based on the votes received by each party in the second round.
Parliamentary elections in France play a crucial role in shaping the legislative landscape, as they determine the composition of the National Assembly.
This process ensures proportional representation and allows citizens to indirectly influence the country’s governance by selecting the party lists that align with their political preferences.
I like to see it as a “balance” with the government.
the French Constituencies
France is divided into several constituencies, each represented by a member of the National Assembly. Voters cast their ballots for candidates running in their respective constituencies.
Candidates, often affiliated with political parties, campaign in their constituencies and present their programs to the voters.
On the election day, the candidate who receives the highest number of votes in a constituency is declared the winner and becomes the representative for that particular constituency in the National Assembly.
Constituency elections ensure that different regions and localities across France are adequately represented in the legislative body, allowing citizens to elect representatives who understand and can address the specific needs and concerns of their respective constituencies.
These elections provide an opportunity for voters to have a direct impact on the democratic process and contribute to the formation of the National Assembly, which plays a crucial role in making laws and shaping national policies.
I hope it wasn’t too technical! I tried to simplify so it remains easy to read. Are the elections much different in your country? Please comment below!