Government of France

The Government of the French Republic (French: Gouvernement de la République française) exercises executive power in France. It is composed of the Prime Minister, who is the head of government, and both junior and senior ministers.[1] Senior ministers are titled as Ministers (French: Ministres), whereas junior ministers are titled as Secretaries of State (French: Secrétaires d'État).

The Council of Ministers is the main executive organ of the government, and is established in the Constitution and presided over by the President of the Republic.

Government of the French Republic
French: Gouvernement de la République française
French government logo
Established1958 (Fifth Republic)
StateFrench Republic
LeaderPrime Minister
Appointed byPresident of the Republic
Main organCouncil of Ministers
Responsible toNational Assembly
HeadquartersHôtel Matignon

Composition and formation

All members of the French government are appointed by the President of the Republic on the advice of the Prime Minister.[2] Members of the government are ranked in a precise order, which is established at the time of government formation. In this hierarchy, the Prime Minister is the head of government. He is appointed by the President of the Republic. Whilst the President is constitutionally free to appoint whomever he likes, in practice he must nominate a candidate that reflects the will of the majority of the National Assembly, as the government is responsible to parliament.[3] After being nominated to lead a government, the Prime Minister nominee must propose a list of ministers to the President. The President can either accept or reject these proposed ministers. Ministers are ranked by importance:

  • Ministers of State (French: Ministres d'État) are senior ministers, and are members of the Council of Ministers. It is an honorary rank, granted to some Ministers as a sign of prestige.
  • Ministers (French: Ministres) are senior ministers, and are members of the Council of Ministers. They lead government ministries.
  • Secretaries of State (French: Secrétaires d'État) are junior ministers. This is the lowest rank in the French ministerial hierarchy. Secretaries work directly under a Minister, or sometimes directly under the Prime Minister. While the Council of Ministers does not include Secretaries of State as members, Secretaries may attend meetings of the Council if their portfolio is up for discussion.


According to the Constitution of the French Fifth Republic, the government directs and decides the policy of the nation.[4] In practice, the government writes bills to be introduced to parliament, and also writes and issues decrees. All political decisions made by the government must be registered in the government gazette.

Council of Ministers

The Council of Ministers (French: Conseil des ministres) is established by the Constitution. It is composed only of the senior ministers, though some Secretaries of State may attend Council meetings. The Council of Ministers is chaired by the President, unlike the government, but is still led by the Prime Minister, who was officially titled as the President of the Council of Ministers (French: Président du Conseil des ministres) during the Third and Fourth Republics.[1]

All bills and some decrees must be approved by the Council of Ministers. Furthermore, it is the Council of Ministers that defines the collective political and policy direction of the government, and takes practical steps to implement that direction. In addition to writing and implementing policy, the government is responsible for national defence, and directs the actions of the French Armed Forces.[4] The workings of the government of France are based on the principle of collegiality.

Meetings of the Council of Ministers take place every Wednesday morning at the Élysée Palace. They are presided over by the President of the Republic, who promotes solidarity and collegiality amongst government ministers.[5] These meetings follow a set format. In the first part of a meeting, the Council deliberates over general interest bills, ordinances, and decrees.[6] In the second part, the Council discusses individual decisions by each Minister regarding the appointment of senior civil servants. In the third part, usually either one Minister will give a presentation about some reform or project that he or she is directing, or the President will ask for advice on some subject from the Ministers. In addition, the Minister of Foreign Affairs provides the Council with weekly updates on important international issues.[6]


Most government work, however, is done elsewhere. Much of it is done by each individual ministry, under the direction of the Minister responsible for that ministry. Ministers each have their own staff, called a "ministerial cabinet" (French: Cabinet ministériel).[7] Each ministerial cabinet consists of around ten to twenty members, who are political appointees. Cabinet members assist the Minister in running a ministry. Members of ministerial cabinets are powerful figures within the government, and work in both the political and administrative spheres.[7] The hierarchy in each ministerial cabinet is determined by the Minister. Working groups consisting of representatives from several ministries are commonplace. It is the duty of the Prime Minister to oversee these inter-ministry meetings, and to ensure that governmental work is done effectively and efficiently.


The government is responsible for the economic and financial policy of the French Republic, must authorise all expenditures made by each ministry, and also manage all revenue. Expenditures are made through what is called a "finance law" (French: Loi des Finances), which is equivalent to an appropriation bill. Each minister must prepare a list of requests for funds annually, and submit it to the Budget Ministry. This ministry decides whether to grant or deny requests for funding by ministers. The ministry also calculates the state budget for the coming year. The parliament must vote on all applications of finance law.

Separation of powers

Members of the French Government cannot occupy any position of occupational or trade leadership at the national level, any public employment, or any professional activity.[8] These restrictions are in place to alleviate external pressure and influence on ministers, and to enable them to focus on their governmental work. Despite these restrictions, members of government are allowed to keep local elected positions, such as those of city mayor or regional councillor. Whilst the Constitution of the French Republic does not prohibit ministers from being the leader of a political party, it is customary that ministers should not occupy such a post.

The government is responsible to the French Parliament. In particular, the government must assume responsibility for its actions before the National Assembly, and the National Assembly can dismiss the government with a motion of censure.[9] The government cannot function during the tenure of an acting (interim) president, as that position is granted either to the President of the Senate or the Prime Minister, compromising separation of powers. If the government decides to launch an armed operation with a duration of longer than four months, it must first consult parliament and request an authorisation.[10] The Prime Minister may convene parliament for extraordinary sessions, or add additional sitting days to the legislative calendar.[11]

Current government


The names of ministries change often in France. This is a list of current ministries:


  1. ^ a b "A SHORT GUIDE TO THE FRENCH POLITICAL SYSTEM". 19 October 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  2. ^ Constitution of the French Republic (Title II, Article 8)
  3. ^ "France: The role of the president". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  4. ^ a b Constitution of the French Republic (Title III, Article 20)
  5. ^ Constitution of the French Republic (Title II, Article 9)
  6. ^ a b "How Government works". Government of France. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  7. ^ a b A. DUTHEILLET DE LAMOTHE (December 1965). "Ministerial Cabinets in France". Public Administration. 43 (4): 365–475.
  8. ^ Constitution of the French Republic (Title III, Article 23)
  9. ^ Constitution of the French Republic (Title V, Article 49)
  10. ^ Constitution of the French Republic (Title V, Article 35)
  11. ^ Constitution of the French Republic (Title IV, Articles 28 and 29)

External links

Chamber of Deputies (France)

Chamber of Deputies (French: Chambre des députés) was a parliamentary body in France in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries:

1814–1848 during the Bourbon Restoration and the July Monarchy, the Chamber of Deputies was the Lower chamber of the French Parliament, elected by census suffrage.

1875–1940 during the French Third Republic, the Chamber of Deputies was the legislative assembly of the French Parliament, elected by universal suffrage. When reunited with the French Senate at Versailles, the French Parliament was called the National Assembly (Assemblée nationale) and carried out the election of the President of the French Republic.

French Consulate

The Consulate (French: Le Consulat) was the top-level Government of France from the fall of the Directory in the coup of Brumaire on 10 November 1799 until the start of the Napoleonic Empire on 18 May 1804. By extension, the term The Consulate also refers to this period of French history.

During this period, Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul, established himself as the head of a more authoritarian, autocratic, and centralized republican government in France while not declaring himself sole ruler. Due to the long-lasting institutions established during these years, Robert B. Holtman has called the Consulate "one of the most important periods of all French history." Napoleon brought authoritarian personal rule which has been viewed as military dictatorship.

French Fifth Republic

The Fifth Republic, France's current republican system of government, was established by Charles de Gaulle under the Constitution of the Fifth Republic on 4 October 1958. The Fifth Republic emerged from the collapse of the Fourth Republic, replacing the former parliamentary republic with a semi-presidential, or dual-executive, system that split powers between a Prime Minister as head of government and a President as head of state. De Gaulle, who was the first French President elected under the Fifth Republic in December 1958, believed in a strong head of state, which he described as embodying l'esprit de la nation ("the spirit of the nation").The Fifth Republic is France's third-longest political regime, after the hereditary and feudal monarchies of the Ancien Régime (Late Middle Ages – 1792) and the parliamentary Third Republic (1870–1940).

French First Republic

In the history of France, the First Republic (French: Première République), officially the French Republic (République française), was founded on 22 September 1792 during the French Revolution. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First Empire in 1804 under Napoleon, although the form of the government changed several times. This period was characterized by the fall of the monarchy, the establishment of the National Convention and the Reign of Terror, the Thermidorian Reaction and the founding of the Directory, and, finally, the creation of the Consulate and Napoleon's rise to power.

French Fourth Republic

The French Fourth Republic (French: La Quatrième République) was the republican government of France between 1946 and 1958, governed by the fourth republican constitution. It was in many ways a revival of the Third Republic that was in place from 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War to 1940 during World War II, and suffered many of the same problems. France adopted the constitution of the Fourth Republic on 13 October 1946.

Despite the political dysfunction, the Fourth Republic saw an era of great economic growth in France and the rebuilding of the nation's social institutions and industry after World War II. It also saw the beginning of the German-French co-operation, that later led to the development of the European Union.

Some attempts were also made to strengthen the executive branch of government to prevent the unstable situation that had existed before the war, but the instability remained and the Fourth Republic saw frequent changes in government – there were 21 administrations in its 12-year history. Moreover, the government proved unable to make effective decisions regarding decolonization of the numerous remaining French colonies. After a series of crises, most importantly the Algerian crisis of 1958, the Fourth Republic collapsed. Wartime leader Charles de Gaulle returned from retirement to preside over a transitional administration that was empowered to design a new French constitution. The Fourth Republic was dissolved by a public referendum on 5 October 1958 which established the modern-day Fifth Republic with a strengthened presidency.

French Parliament

The French Parliament (French: Parlement français) is the bicameral legislature of the French Republic, consisting of the Senate (Sénat) and the National Assembly (Assemblée nationale). Each assembly conducts legislative sessions at a separate location in Paris: the Palais du Luxembourg for the Senate and the Palais Bourbon for the National Assembly.

Each house has its own regulations and rules of procedure. However, they may occasionally meet as a single house, the French Congress (Congrès du Parlement français), convened at the Palace of Versailles, to revise and amend the Constitution of France.

French Second Republic

The French Second Republic was a short-lived republican government of France under President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. It lasted from the 1848 Revolution to the 1851 coup by which the president made himself Emperor Napoleon III and initiated the Second Empire. It officially adopted the motto of the First Republic, Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. The Second Republic witnessed the tension between the "Social and Democratic Republic" (French: la République démocratique et sociale) and a Radical (progressive liberal) form of republicanism, which exploded during the June Days uprising of 1848.

French passport

French passport (in French: Passeport français) is an identity document issued to French citizens. Besides enabling the bearer to travel internationally and serving as indication of French citizenship (but not proof; the possession of a French passport only establishes the presumption of French citizenship according to French law), the passport facilitates the process of securing assistance from French consular officials abroad or other European Union member states in case a French consular is absent, if needed.

Every French citizen is also a citizen of the European Union. The passport, along with the national identity card allows for free rights of movement and residence in any of the states of the European Union and European Economic Area.

Government of National Defense

The Government of National Defense (French: Gouvernement de la Défense nationale) was the first government of the Third Republic of France from 4 September 1870 to 13 February 1871 during the Franco-Prussian War. It was formed after the Emperor Napoleon III was captured by the Prussian Army. The government, headed by General Louis Jules Trochu, was under Prussian siege in Paris. Breakouts were attempted twice, but met with disaster and rising dissatisfaction of the public. In late January the government, having further enraged the population of Paris by crushing a revolutionary uprising, surrendered to the Prussians. Two weeks later, it was replaced by the new government of Adolphe Thiers, which soon passed a variety of financial laws in an attempt to pay reparations and thus oblige the Prussians to leave France, leading to the outbreak of revolutions in French cities, and the ultimate creation of the Paris Commune.

Journal officiel de la République française

The Journal officiel de la République française (JORF or JO) is the government gazette of the French Republic. It publishes the major legal official information from the national Government of France.

List of Prime Ministers of France

The Prime Minister of France is the head of the Government of France.

During earlier periods of French history, the French head of government was known by different titles. Most recently, during the Second, Third and Fourth Republics, the Head of Government was called President of the Council of Ministers (Président du Conseil des Ministres), generally shortened to President of the Council (Président du Conseil).

Minister of the Interior (France)

The Minister of the Interior (French: Ministre de l'Intérieur; French pronunciation: ​[ministɛʁ də lɛ̃teˈʁjœʁ]) is an important position in the Government of France. The office is equivalent to the Interior Minister of other countries, like the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, or similar to a combination of the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security in the United States.

National Assembly (France)

The National Assembly (French: Assemblée nationale; pronounced [asɑ̃ble nasjɔnal]) is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of France under the Fifth Republic, the upper house being the Senate (Sénat). The National Assembly's members are known as députés (French pronunciation: ​[depyˈte]; 'delegate' or 'envoy' in English; the word is an etymological cognate of the English word 'deputy').

There are 577 députés, each elected by a single-member constituency through a two-round voting system. Thus, 289 seats are required for a majority. The assembly is presided over by a president (currently Richard Ferrand), normally from the largest party represented, assisted by vice-presidents from across the represented political spectrum. The term of the National Assembly is five years; however, the President of the Republic may dissolve the Assembly (thereby calling for new elections) unless it has been dissolved in the preceding twelve months. This measure is becoming rarer since the 2000 referendum reduced the presidential term from seven to five years: a President usually has a majority elected in the Assembly two months after the presidential election, and it would be useless for him/her to dissolve it for those reasons.

Following a tradition started by the first National Assembly during the French Revolution, the "left-wing" parties sit to the left as seen from the president's seat, and the "right-wing" parties sit to the right, and the seating arrangement thus directly indicates the political spectrum as represented in the Assembly. The official seat of the National Assembly is the Palais Bourbon on the banks of the river Seine; the Assembly also uses other neighbouring buildings, including the Immeuble Chaban-Delmas on the rue de l'Université. It is guarded by Republican Guards.

Prefect (France)

A prefect (French: préfet) in France is the State's representative in a department or region. Sub-prefects (French: sous-préfets) are responsible for the subdivisions of departments, arrondissements. The office of a prefect is known as a prefecture and that of a sub-prefect as a subprefecture.

Prefects are appointed by a decree of the President of the Republic in the Council of Ministers, following the proposal of the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior. They serve at the Government's discretion and can be replaced at any meeting of the Council.

From 1982 to 1988 prefects were called commissaires de la République (the Republic's commissioners) and the sub-prefects commissaires adjoints de la République.

Prefectures in France

A prefecture in France (French: préfecture) may refer to:

the Chef-lieu de département, the town in which the administration of a department is located;

the Chef-lieu de région, the town in which the administration of a region is located;

the jurisdiction of a prefecture;

the official residence or headquarters of a prefect.

President of the French Republic

The President of the French Republic (French: Président de la République française, French pronunciation: ​[pʁezidɑ̃ də la ʁepyblik fʁɑ̃sɛːz]) is the executive head of state of France in the French Fifth Republic. In French terms, the presidency is the supreme magistracy of the country.

The powers, functions and duties of prior presidential offices, as well as their relation with the Prime Minister and Government of France, have over time differed with the various constitutional documents since the French Second Republic. The President of the French Republic is also the ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, Grand Master of the Legion of Honour and the National Order of Merit. The officeholder is also honorary proto-canon of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, although some have rejected the title in the past.

The current President of the French Republic is Emmanuel Macron, who succeeded François Hollande on 14 May 2017.

Provisional Government of the French Republic

The Provisional Government of the French Republic (gouvernement provisoire de la République française or GPRF) was an interim government of Free France between 1944 and 1946 following the liberation of continental France after Operations Overlord and Dragoon, and lasted until the establishment of the French Fourth Republic. Its establishment marked the official restoration and re-establishment of a provisional French Republic, assuring continuity with the defunct French Third Republic.

It succeeded the French Committee of National Liberation (CFLN), which had been the provisional government of France in the overseas territories and metropolitan parts of the country (Algeria and Corsica) that had been liberated by the Free French. As the wartime government of France in 1944–1945, its main purposes were to handle the aftermath of the occupation of France and continue to wage war against Germany as one of the major Allies.

Its principal mission (in addition to the war) was to prepare the ground for a new constitutional order that resulted in the Fourth Republic. It also made several important reforms and political decisions, such as granting women the right to vote, founding the École nationale d'administration, and laying the grounds of social security in France.

Senate (France)

The Senate (French: Sénat; pronunciation: [seˈna]) is the upper house of the French Parliament. Indirectly elected by elected officials, it represents territorial collectivities of the Republic and French citizens living abroad. The Senate enjoys less prominence than the lower house, the directly elected National Assembly; debates in the Senate tend to be less tense and generally receive less media coverage.

The Senate is housed inside the Luxembourg Palace in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. It is guarded by Republican Guards. In front of the building lies the Senate's gardens, the Jardin du Luxembourg, open to the public.

Subprefectures in France

In France, a subprefecture (French: sous-préfecture) is the administrative center of a departmental arrondissement that does not contain the prefecture for its department. The term also applies to the building that houses the administrative headquarters for an arrondissement.

The civil servant in charge of a subprefecture is the subprefect, assisted by a general secretary. Between May 1982 and February 1988, subprefects were known instead by the title commissaire adjoint de la République.

Where the administration of an arrondissement is carried out from a prefecture, the general secretary to the prefect carries out duties equivalent to those of the subprefect.

The municipal arrondissements of Paris, Lyon, and Marseille are divisions of the city (or commune) rather than the prefecture, and so are not arrondissements in the same sense.

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