• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Who rules in France? What factors determine the actual powers of the President and Prime minister of France?

Extracts from this document...


Who rules in France? What factors determine the actual powers of the President and Prime minister of France? In France, no single person rules the country but the power is shared between the President and the Prime minister. The President and Prime ministers both have different powers and responsibilities which are generally set by the constitution but can be altered by various external factors such as the political climate at the time and external controls. According to Vincent Wright (1978) the president of France can be said to have five basic functions: he is the head of state, the guardian of the national interest, the fountain head of patronage, the country's most prominent politician and finally the head of the executive. The President is expected to carry out ceremonial duties, make courtesy visits abroad and accredit ambassadors. He is also seen as the most significant and dominant politician with strong leadership qualities and charisma- 'De Gaulle like imperious rulers in non-democratic regimes virtually monopolized the mass media and used the press conference not so much to enlighten the people as to appeal for national unity'1. However, now must also consider the President's strong political power. The Constitution of 4 October 1958 had provided for the election of the President of the Republic by indirect universal suffrage by an electoral college comprising the members of Parliament and various representatives of local elected officials. ...read more.


He has a valid point, indeed, some of the presidential powers may be overlapping, even conflicting with those of the Prime ministers. The particular voting system adopted by a system may affect the outcome of the election and therefore determine the power given to a particular party. First-past-the-post voting was introduced by General de Gaulle as an antidote to the instability which had plagued the governments of the Fourth Republic and which had been largely due to proportional representation. The proportional system was brought back for the 1986 general election by the Socialist government - which was seeking better representation for small political groups The 1986 cohabitation brought a new stage of party development in the temporary non-coincidence of the presidential and parliamentary majorities. The President promised to stay in office unless the new majority blocked his constitutional powers. Two years later the first past the post system was reinstated and has remained in tact ever since. However, this cohabitation must have changed the power balance between the President and Prime minister. The President used to be more far more dominant prior to this cohabitation but this power sharing changed things. William Saffran stated that 'In 1988 much of the Presidents power was restored yet his relationship to the Premier has remained ambiguous considering both his policy disagreements with Rocard and the fact ...read more.


Dreyfus also recognises that there are legal restrictions by which 'the state is made to respect the law'8. Laws can be submitted to different bodies such as the Constitutional council, the council of state, The European commission and the European court of justice. Another restraint on the powers of the President and Prime minister are extra-institutional controls. They are not laid down in documents but can be in the form of interest and pressure groups. The media also has a lot of influence when it comes to the policy and power. The case of the Le Monde newspaper is significant as it played a major role in the resignation of the defence secretary after the Rainbow warrior fiasco of 1985. 1 Saffran, W.1991 (Third edition), The French Polity,pg 155 New York, Longman Press 2 Saffran, W.1991 (Third edition), The French Polity, pg 152 New York, Longman Press 3 Macridis, RC 1975, French Politics In Transition: The years after DeGaulle, pg 8,Cambright, Mass. Winthrop publishing. 4 Saffran, W.1991 (Third edition), The French Polity, pg 158 New York, Longman Press 5 Saffran, W.1991 (Third edition), The French Polity, pg 151 New York, Longman Press 6 Wright, V. 1978, The Government and Politics of France,pg 108, London, Hutchinson 7 Dreyfus F, (Taken from Hall, P et all,1990, Developments in French Politics, pg 134, London, Macmillan 8 Dreyfus F, (Taken from Hall, P et all,1990, Developments in French Politics, pg 134, London, Macmillan ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level United Kingdom section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level United Kingdom essays

  1. Comparison of the US President and British Prime Minister.

    Bush too, had great success in using the veto, defeated only once from 1988 to 1993. The power of the pocket veto has also become an effective weapon of the president in controlling legislation, since it can not be overturned and needs not be explained, and moreover, can be used

  2. The comparison of the US President and the British Prime Minister appears from the ...

    is of great significance in determining which office holds the most power as a whole. The British Parliament, according to McNaughton, may be sovereign but when considered thoroughly, this is only a theory. "In effect, the sovereignty of Parliament becomes the sovereignty of the Government" (McNaughton).

  1. The relationship between the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

    Finally of course, are the prerogative powers, presented to him by the Monarch as the leader of the House of Commons. These powers, among other things entitle him to declare war, sign treaties, cede territory and offer the monarch advice on Parliament's dissolution, at a time within five years. 2b)

  2. Compare and contrast the position and powers of the US president and the UK ...

    However, the Constitution and its makers, do state the powers of Congress first in Article 1 and then the powers of the president in Article 2. Was this their way of putting an individual in his place after the experience of one man's power in Britain during the independence crisis?

  1. Which do you consider to be the more powerful chief executive in his or ...

    Unlike its counterpart in the UK (the House of Lords), the Supreme Court is not a passive body. This leads nicely to the next issue: what are the constitutional limits to executive power? In Britain PM Tony Blair has only an unwritten, uncodified constitution to contend with.

  2. To what extent has the post of Prime minister become more presidential?

    These include the political party which the PM may be accountable to, for example they can only form a cabinet of party members which leaves competent opposition out of front bench positions. There is also a restriction of policy through fear of splitting a party clear examples include Europe for Major as well as Blair recent proposals for foundation hospitals.

  1. The Prime Ministers Powers Of Patronage

    has over the cabinet in the sense he was able to appoint two friends to high ranking positions in government. This gives the prime minister ample opportunity to mould the cabinet into his own likeness, enabling him to control all aspects of the executive.

  2. How and why has the role of the prime minister changed over the post-1945 ...

    Since 1965 the leader of the Conservatives has been elected by the Conservative members of the House of Commons, whereas prior to this he was chosen by 'leading figures in the party' (King, 1991, p26). Furthermore the reform also "calls for the annual election of the leader" (King, 1991, p29).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work