Prime Minister of France

The French Prime Minister (French: Premier ministre français) in the Fifth Republic is the head of government. During the Third and Fourth Republics, the head of government position was called President of the Council of Ministers (French: Président du Conseil des Ministres), generally shortened to President of the Council (French: Président du Conseil).

The Prime Minister proposes a list of ministers to the President of the Republic. Decrees and decisions of the Prime Minister, like almost all executive decisions, are subject to the oversight of the administrative court system. Few decrees are taken after advice from the Council of State (French: Conseil d'État). All prime ministers defend the programs of their ministry, and make budgetary choices. The extent to which those decisions lie with the Prime Minister or President depends upon whether they are of the same party.

Manuel Valls was appointed to lead the government in a cabinet reshuffle in March 2014, after the ruling Socialists suffered a bruising defeat in local elections. However, he resigned on 6 December 2016, to stand in the French Socialist Party presidential primary, 2017 and Bernard Cazeneuve was appointed as Prime Minister later that day by President François Hollande. Cazeneuve resigned on 10 May 2017. Édouard Philippe was named his successor on 15 May 2017.

Prime Minister of France
Premier ministre français
Edouard Philippe MSC 2018 (cropped)
Édouard Philippe

since 15 May 2017
StylePrime Minister or His Excellency
Member ofCabinet of France
Council of State
Reports toPresident of the French Republic
and to Parliament
ResidenceHôtel de Matignon
SeatParis, France
AppointerPresident of the French Republic
Term lengthNo fixed term
Remains in office while commanding the confidence of the National Assembly and the President of the French Republic
Constituting instrumentConstitution of France
PrecursorSeveral incarnations since the Ancien Régime
Formation4 October 1958
First holderMichel Debré
Salary14,910 euro per month


The Prime Minister is appointed by the President of the Republic, who can select whomever he or she wants. While prime ministers are usually chosen from amongst the ranks of the National Assembly, on rare occasions the President has selected a non-officeholder because of their experience in bureaucracy or foreign service, or their success in business management—Dominique de Villepin, for example, served as Prime Minister from 2005 to 2007 without ever having held an elected office.

On the other hand, while the Prime Minister does not have to ask for vote of confidence after cabinet's formation and they can depend their legitimacy on the President's assignment as Prime Minister and approval of the cabinet, because the National Assembly does have the power to force the resignation of the cabinet by motion of no confidence, the choice of Prime Minister must reflect the will of the majority in the Assembly. For example, right after the legislative election of 1986, President François Mitterrand had to appoint Jacques Chirac Prime Minister although Chirac was a member of the RPR (Rally for the Republic) and therefore a political opponent of Mitterrand. Despite the fact that Mitterrand's own Socialist Party was the largest party in the Assembly, it did not have an absolute majority. The RPR had an alliance with the UDF, which gave them a majority. Such a situation, where the President is forced to work with a Prime Minister who is an opponent, is called a cohabitation.

Édith Cresson is the only woman to have held the position of Prime Minister.[1]

Aristide Briand holds the record for number of cabinet formations as Prime Minister with 11 times. He served between 1909 and 1929 with some terms as short as 26 days.


According to article 21 of the Constitution,[2] the Prime Minister "shall direct the actions of the Government". Additionally, Article 20[2] stipulates that the Government "shall determine and conduct the policy of the Nation", and it includes domestic issues, while the President concentrates on formulating directions on national defense and foreign policy while arbitrating the efficient service of all governmental authorities in France. Other members of Government are appointed by the President "on the recommendation of the Prime Minister". In practice the Prime Minister acts on the impulse of the President to whom he is a subordinate, except when there is a cohabitation in which case his responsibilities are akin to those of a Prime Minister in a parliamentary system.

The Prime Minister can "engage the responsibility" of his or her Government before the National Assembly. This process consists of placing a bill before the Assembly, and either the Assembly overthrows the Government, or the bill is passed automatically (article 49[2]). In addition to ensuring that the Government still has support in the House, some bills that might prove too controversial to pass through the normal Assembly rules are able to be passed this way.

The Prime Minister may also submit a bill that has not been yet signed into law to the Constitutional Council (article 61[2]).

Before he is allowed to dissolve the Assembly, the President has to consult the Prime Minister and the presidents of both Houses of Parliament (article 12[2]).


Matignon gala
Official reception at Hôtel Matignon.

The office of the prime minister, in its current form, was created in 1958 under the French Fifth Republic.

Under the Third Republic, the French Constitutional Laws of 1875 imbued the position of President of the Council with similar formal powers to those which at that time the British Prime Minister possessed. In practice, however, this proved insufficient to command the confidence of France's multi-party parliament, and the president of the Council was a fairly weak figure, his strength more dependent on charisma than formal powers, and often serving as little more than the cabinet's "primus inter pares". Most notably, the legislature had the power to force the entire cabinet out of office by a vote of censure. As a result, cabinets were often toppled twice a year, and there were long stretches where France was left with only a caretaker government.

After several unsuccessful attempts to strengthen the role in the first half of the twentieth century, a semi-presidential system was introduced under the Fifth Republic. The 1958 Constitution includes several provisions intended to strengthen the prime minister's position, for instance by restricting the legislature's power to vote censure.


The current prime minister is Édouard Philippe, who was appointed on 15 May 2017.

Fifth Republic records

Durée des gouvernements de la Vème République.svg&lang=en
Length of the successive governments of the French Fifth Republic

See also


  1. ^ Britannica Mobile – iPhone Edition
  2. ^ a b c d e Welcome to the english website of the French National Assembly – Assemblée nationale

External links

1828 in France

Events from the year 1828 in France.

1948 in France

Events from the year 1948 in France.

1970 in France

Events from the year 1970 in France.

Alphonse Henri d'Hautpoul

Alphonse Henri, comte d'Hautpoul (4 January 1789 – 27 July 1865) was Prime Minister of France from 31 October 1849 to 10 April 1851 during the French Second Republic.

André Tardieu

André Pierre Gabriel Amédée Tardieu (French: [ɑ̃dʁe taʁdjø]; 22 September 1876 – 15 September 1945) was three times Prime Minister of France (3 November 1929 – 17 February 1930; 2 March – 4 December 1930; 20 February – 10 May 1932) and a dominant figure of French political life in 1929–1932. He was a moderate conservative with a strong intellectual reputation, but became a weak prime minister at the start of the worldwide Great Depression.

Aristide Briand

Aristide Briand (French: [a.ʁis.tid bʁi.jɑ̃]; 28 March 1862 – 7 March 1932) was a French statesman who served eleven terms as Prime Minister of France during the French Third Republic. He is mainly remembered for his focus on international issues and reconciliation politics during the interwar period (1918–1939).

In 1926, he received the Nobel Peace Prize along with German Foreign minister Gustav Stresemann for the realization of the Locarno Treaties, suitable for recoinciliate France and Germany after the First World War. To avoid another worldwide conflict, he was instrumental in the agreement known as the Kellogg–Briand Pact of 1929, as well to establish a "European Union" in 1929. However, all his efforts were compromised by the rise of nationalistic and revanchist ideas like Nazism and Fascism following the Great Depression.

Charles de Freycinet

Charles Louis de Saulces de Freycinet (French: [ʃaʁl də fʁɛjsinɛ]; 14 November 1828 – 14 May 1923) was a French statesman and four times Prime Minister during the Third Republic. He also served an important term as Minister of War (1888–93). He belonged to the Opportunist Republicans faction.

He was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences, and in 1890, the fourteenth member to occupy a seat in the Académie française.

Conference of London (1920)

In the Conference of London, (12–24 February 1920), following World War I, leaders of Britain, France, and Italy met to discuss the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire and the negotiation of agreements that would become the Treaty of Sèvres. Under the leadership of British prime minister David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of France Alexandre Millerand, and Prime Minister of Italy Francesco Saverio Nitti, the allied powers reached agreements that would form the basis of their arguments at the San Remo conference.

Deputy Prime Minister of France

The Deputy Prime Minister of France, more properly known as the Vice President of the Council of Ministers, was a sinecure position that existed during the Third and Fourth Republics, as well as the Vichy regime during World War II. It was reserved for the leaders of junior parties during coalition governments.

During the Vichy regime, the title was in fact bestowed on the de facto prime minister.

Its first holder was Eugène Penancier, who served under Édouard Daladier in 1932, and its last was Guy Mollet, who served under Pierre Pflimlin in 1958.

Georges Pompidou

Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou (French: [ʒɔʁʒ pɔ̃pidu]; 5 July 1911 – 2 April 1974) was Prime Minister of France from 1962 to 1968—the longest tenure in the position's history—and later President of the French Republic from 1969 until his death in 1974. He had long been a top aide to president Charles de Gaulle. As president, he was a moderate conservative who repaired France's relationship with the United States and maintained positive relations with the newly independent former colonies in Africa.

He strengthened his political party, the Union of Democrats for the Republic ("Union des Democrates pour la Ve République" or UDR), to make it a bastion of the Gaullist movement. Pompidou's presidency is generally held in high esteem by French political commentators.

Hôtel Matignon

The Hôtel de Matignon (French pronunciation: ​[o.tɛl ma.ti.ɲɔ̃]) is the official residence of the Prime Minister of France. It is located in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France. The address of Hôtel de Matignon is 57 rue de Varenne, Paris.

"Matignon" is used as a metonym for the governmental action of the Prime Minister of France.

Jean-Marc Ayrault

Jean-Marc Ayrault (French: [ʒɑ̃maʁk eʁo]; born 25 January 1950) is a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France from 16 May 2012 to 1 April 2014. He later was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2016 to 2017. He previously was Mayor of Nantes from 1989 to 2012 and led the Socialist Party group in the National Assembly from 1997 to 2012.

Manuel Valls

Manuel Carlos Valls Galfetti (French: [manɥɛl vals], Catalan: [mənuˈɛl ˈβaʎs], Spanish: [maˈnwel ˈbals]; born 13 August 1962) is a French and Spanish politician who served as Prime Minister of France from 2014 until 2016. He was previously Minister of the Interior from 2012 to 2014. He was a member of the Socialist Party, and was a candidate in their primary for the 2017 presidential election, losing the Socialist nomination in the second round to Benoît Hamon.

Born in Barcelona to a Spanish father and a Swiss mother, Valls was Mayor of Évry from 2001 to 2012 and was first elected to the National Assembly of France in 2002. He was regarded as belonging to the Socialist Party's social liberal wing, sharing common orientations with Blairism.

Marthe de Florian

Madame Marthe de Florian (Paris, France; 9 September 1864 – Trouville-sur-Mer, France; 29 August 1939) born as Mathilde Héloïse Beaugiron was a little known French demimondaine (courtesan) during the Belle Époque. She was known for having famous lovers including Georges Clemenceau (before he became the 72nd Prime Minister of France), Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau (the 68th Prime Minister of France), Paul Deschanel (11th President of France), Gaston Doumergue (13th President of France), and the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. Her story resurfaced when in 2010 her belongings were discovered in her Parisian apartment, located at 2 square La Bruyère (in the 9th arrondissement), untouched for decades, like in a time capsule.

Maurice Rouvier

Maurice Rouvier (French pronunciation: ​[moʁis ʁuvje]; 17 April 1842 – 7 June 1911) was a French statesman of the "Opportunist" faction, who served as the Prime Minister of France. He is best known for his financial policies and his unpopular policies designed to avoid a rupture with Germany.

Pierre Pflimlin

Pierre Eugène Jean Pflimlin (French pronunciation: ​[pjɛʁ flimlɛ̃]; 5 February 1907 – 27 June 2000) was a French Christian democratic politician who served as the Prime Minister of the Fourth Republic for a few weeks in 1958, before being replaced by Charles de Gaulle during the crisis of that year.

Édouard Balladur

Édouard Balladur (French: [edwaʁ baladyʁ]; born 2 May 1929) is a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France under François Mitterrand from 29 March 1993 to 10 May 1995. He unsuccessfully ran for president in the 1995 French presidential election, coming in third place. At age 89, Balladur is currently the oldest living former French Prime Minister.

Édouard Philippe

Édouard Charles Philippe (French: [edwaʁ filip]; born 28 November 1970) is a French politician serving as Prime Minister of France since 15 May 2017 under President Emmanuel Macron.

A lawyer by occupation, Philippe is a former member of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), which later became The Republicans (LR). He served as a member of the National Assembly representing the 7th constituency of Seine-Maritime from 2012 to 2017, as well as Mayor of Le Havre and President of the Agglomeration community of Le Havre from 2010 to 2017. In 2017 President Macron appointed him Prime Minister; Philippe subsequently named his government on 17 May.

Émile Loubet

Émile François Loubet (French: [emil lubɛ]; 30 December 1838 – 20 December 1929) was the 45th Prime Minister of France and later President of France.

Trained in law, he became mayor of Montélimar, where he was noted as a forceful orator. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1876 and the Senate in 1885. He was appointed as a Republican minister under Carnot and Ribot. He was briefly Prime Minister of France in 1892. As President (1899–1906), he saw the successful Paris Exhibition of 1900, and the forging of the Entente Cordiale with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, resolving their sharp differences over the Boer War and the Dreyfus Affair.

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