Government of France

Essay by pnarUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, May 2006

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The government of France is a semi-presidential system based on the French Constitution of the fifth Republic, in which the nation declares itself to be "an indivisible, secular, democratic, and social Republic". The constitution provides for a separation of powers and proclaims France's "attachment to the Rights of Man and the principles of national sovereignty as defined by the Declaration of 1789."

The national government of France is divided into an executive, a legislative and a judicial branch. The President has a degree of direct executive power, but most executive power resides in his appointee, the Prime Minister. The President's choice for Prime Minister must have the confidence of the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament; also the Prime Minister is always from the majority party in that house.

Parliament comprises the National Assembly and the Senate. It passes statutes and votes on the budget; it controls the action of the executive through formal questioning on the floor of the houses of Parliament and by establishing commissions of enquiry.

The constitutionality of the statutes is checked by the Constitutional Council, members of which are appointed by the President of the Republic, the President of the National Assembly, and the President of the Senate. Former Presidents of the Republic also are members of the Council.

The independent judiciary is based on a civil law system which evolved from the Napoleonic code. It is divided into the judicial branch (dealing with civil law and criminal law) and the administrative branch (dealing with appeals against executive decisions), each with their own independent supreme court, the courts of cassation. The French government includes various bodies that check abuses of power and independent agencies.

France is a unitary state. However, the various legal subdivisions--the régions, départements and communes--have various attributions, and the national government...