Living in the Languedoc: Central Government: Elections
Elections are major events in the political life of the country.
Except for Senate elections, voting is by direct universal suffrage.
There are just over 40 million electors (out of a total population of around 61 million).
Electors must have reached their majority (ie be at least 18 years old), be of French nationality, except for municipal and European Parliament elections, be on the electoral roll in their commune of residence and be in full possession of their civic rights.
Convictions for certain serious crimes may lead to loss of civic rights for a specified length of time.
The President is elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year renewable term in a two-ballot majority poll.
Candidates must be sponsored by at least 500 nationally or locally elected representatives.
If a candidate obtains an absolute majority (over half the votes cast), he is immediately elected.
Otherwise there is a second round, involving only the two candidates who led in the first.
One of the two will necessarily attain an absolute majority.
General or legislative elections are held to choose the 577 deputies who sit in the National Assembly; they are elected for a five-year term by direct universal suffrage on the two-ballot, uninominal majority system.
The first-past-the-post system was reinstated for the 1988 elections and has been retained ever since.
In senatorial elections, the 321 members of the Senate are elected by indirect universal suffrage by an electoral college in each department made up of deputies, general councillors, regional councillors and representatives of the municipal councils.
Senators are elected for a nine-year term, with one third of their number replaced every three years.
87 French MEPs are elected for a five-year term by direct universal suffrage with voting by proportional representation for national lists.
Under the terms of the Treaty on European Union, citizens of other European Union states resident in France may vote for one of the French lists of candidates.
To go to Local Government, including local elections
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