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Constitution of France (1958, rev. 2008)

1The following text is from the Constitute Project, who through a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, has generously made this content available for use for noncommercial purposes. Follow (right-click) the links and read the annotation to learn more. 1

2


3Preamble

4The French people solemnly proclaim their attachment to the Rights of Man and the principles of national sovereignty as defined by the Declaration of 1789, confirmed and complemented by the Preamble to the Constitution of 1946, and to the rights and duties as defined in the Charter for the Environment of 2004.

5By virtue of these principles and that of the self-determination of peoples, the Republic offers to the overseas territories which have expressed the will to adhere to them new institutions founded on the common ideal of liberty, equality and fraternity and conceived for the purpose of their democratic development.

6ARTICLE 1

7France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs. It shall be organised on a decentralized basis.

8Statutes shall promote equal access by women and men to elective offices and posts as well as to position of professional and social responsibility.

9Title I. ON SOVEREIGNTY

10ARTICLE 2

11The language of the Republic shall be French.

12The national emblem shall be the blue, white and red tricolour flag.

13The national anthem shall be La Marseillaise.

14The maxim of the Republic shall be "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity".

15The principle of the Republic shall be: government of the people, by the people and for the people.

16ARTICLE 3

17National sovereignty shall vest in the people, who shall exercise it through their representatives and by means of referendum.

18No section of the people nor any individual may arrogate to itself, or to himself, the exercise thereof.

19Suffrage may be direct or indirect as provided for by the Constitution. It shall always be universal, equal and secret.

20All French citizens of either sex who have reached their majority and are in possession of their civil and political rights may vote as provided for by statute.

21ARTICLE 4

22Political parties and groups shall contribute to the exercise of suffrage. They shall be formed and carry on their activities freely. They shall respect the principles of national sovereignty and democracy.

23They shall contribute to the implementation of the principle set out in the second paragraph of article 1 as provided for by statute.

24Statutes shall guarantee the expression of diverse opinions and the equitable participation of political parties and groups in the democratic life of the Nation.

25Title II. THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC

26ARTICLE 5

27The President of the Republic shall ensure due respect for the Constitution. He shall ensure, by his arbitration, the proper functioning of the public authorities and the continuity of the State.

28He shall be the guarantor of national independence, territorial integrity and due respect for Treaties.

29ARTICLE 6

30The President of the Republic shall be elected for a terra of five years by direct universal suffrage.

31No one may hold office for more than two consecutive terms.

32The manner of implementation of this article shall be determined by an Institutional Act.

33ARTICLE 7

34The President of the Republic shall be elected by an absolute majority of votes cast. If such a majority is not obtained on the first ballot, a second ballot shall take place on the fourteenth day thereafter. Only the two candidates polling the greatest number of votes in the first ballot, after any withdrawal of better placed candidates, may stand in the second ballot.

35The process of electing a President shall commence by the calling of said election by the Government.

36The election of the new President shall be held no fewer than twenty days and no more than thirty-five days before the expiry of the terra of the President in office.

37Should the Presidency of the Republic fall vacant for any reason whatsoever, or should the Constitutional Council on a referral from the Government rule by an absolute majority of its members that the President of the Republic is incapacitated, the duties of the President of the Republic, with the exception of those specified in articles 11 and 12, shall be temporarily exercised by the President of the Senate or, if the latter is in turn incapacitated, by the Government.

38In the case of a vacancy, or where the incapacity of the President is declared to be permanent by the Constitutional Council, elections for the new President shall, except in the event of a finding by the Constitutional Council of force majeure, be held no fewer than twenty days and no more than thirty-five days after the beginning of the vacancy or the declaration of permanent incapacity.

39In the event of the death or incapacitation in the seven days preceding the deadline for registering candidacies of any of the persons who, fewer than thirty days prior to such deadline, have publicly announced their decision to stand for election, the Constitutional Council may decide to postpone the election.

40If, before the first round of voting, any of the candidates dies or becomes incapacitated, the Constitutional Council shall declare the election to be postponed.

41In the event of the death or incapacitation of either of the two candidates in the lead after the first round of voting before any withdrawals, the Constitutional Council shall declare that the electoral process must be repeated in full; the same shall apply in the event of the death or incapacitation of either of the two candidates still standing on the second round of voting.

42All cases shall be referred to the Constitutional Council in the manner laid down in the second paragraph of article 61 or in that laid down for the registration of candidates in the Institutional Act provided for in article 6.

43The Constitutional Council may extend the time limits set in paragraphs three and five above, provided that polling takes place no later than thirty-five days after the decision of the Constitutional Council. If the implementation of the provisions of this paragraph results in the postponement of the election beyond the expiry of the term of the President in office, the latter shall remain in office until his successor is proclaimed.

44Neither articles 49 and 50 nor article 89 of the Constitution shall be implemented during the vacancy of the Presidency of the Republic or during the period between the declaration of the permanent incapacity of the President of the Republic and the election of his successor.

45ARTICLE 8

46The President of the Republic shall appoint the Prime Minister. He shall terminate the appointment of the Prime Minister when the latter tenders the resignation of the Government.

47On the recommendation of the Prime Minister, he shall appoint the other members of the Government and terminate their appointments.

48ARTICLE 9

49The President of the Republic shall preside over the Council of Ministers.

50ARTICLE 10

51The President of the Republic shall promulgate Acts of Parliament within fifteen days following the final passage of an Act and its transmission to the Government.

52He may, before the expiry of this time limit, ask Parliament to reopen debate on the Act or any sections thereof. Such reopening of debate shall not be refused.

53ARTICLE 11

54The President of the Republic may, on a recommendation from the Government when Parliament is in session, or on a joint motion of the two Houses, published in the Journal Officiel, submit to a referendum any Government Bill which deals with the organization of the public authorities, or with reforms relating to the economic or social policy of the Nation, and to the public services contributing thereto, or which provides for authorization to ratify a treaty which, although not contrary to the Constitution, would affect the functioning of the institutions.

55Where the referendum is held on the recommendation of the Government, the latter shall make a statement before each House and the same shall be followed by a debate.

56ARTICLE 11. *

57The President of the Republic may, on a recommendation from the Government when Parliament is in session, or on a joint motion of the two Houses, published in the Journal Officiel, submit to a referendum any Government Bill which deals with the organization of the public authorities, or with reforms relating to the economic or social policy of the Nation, and to the public services contributing thereto, or which provides for authorization to ratify a treaty which, although not contrary to the Constitution, would affect the functioning of the institutions.

58Where the referendum is held on the recommendation of the Government, the latter shall make a statement before each House and the same shall be followed by a debate.

59A referendum concerning a subject mentioned in the first paragraph may be held upon the initiative of one fifth of the Members of Parliament, supported by one tenth of the voters enrolled on the electoral register. This initiative shall take the form of a Private Member's Bill and shall not be applied to the repeal of a statutory provision promulgated for less than one year.

60The conditions by which it is introduced and those according to which the Constitutional Council monitors the respect of the provisions of the previous paragraph, are set down by an Institutional Act.

61If the Private Member's Bill has not been considered by the two Houses within a period set by the Institutional Act, the President of the Republic shall submit it to a referendum.

62Where the decision of the French people in the referendum is not favourable to the Private Member's Bill, no new referendum proposal on the same subject may be submitted before the end of a period of two years following the date of the vote.

63Where the outcome of the referendum is favourable to the Government Bill or to the Private Member's Bill, the President of the Republic shall promulgate the resulting statute within fifteen days following the proclamation of the results of the vote.

64*This version of Article 11 will come into effect in the manner determined by statutes and Institutional Acts necessary for their application by virtue of the article 46 of the Constitutional Act no. 2008-724 of July 23, 2008

65ARTICLE 12

66The President of the Republic may, after consulting the Prime Minister and the Presidents of the Houses of Parliament, declare the National Assembly dissolved.

67A general election shall take place no fewer than twenty days and no more than forty days after the dissolution.

68The National Assembly shall sit as of right on the second Thursday following its election. Should this sitting fall outside the period prescribed for the ordinary session, a session shall be convened by right for a fifteen-day period.

69No further dissolution shall take place within a year following said election.

70ARTICLE 13

71The President of the Republic shall sign the Ordinances and Decrees deliberated upon in the Council of Ministers.

72He shall make appointments to the civil and military posts of the State.

73Conseillers d’état, the Grand Chancelier de la Legion d'Honneur, Ambassadors and Envoys Extraordinary, Conseillers Maîtres of the Cour des Comptes, Prefects, State representatives in the overseas communities to which article 74 applies and in New Caledonia, highest-ranking Military Officers, Recteurs des Academies and Directors of Central Government Departments shall be appointed in the Council of Ministers.

74An Institutional Act shall determine the other posts to be filled at meetings of the Council of Ministers and the manner in which the power of the President of the Republic to make appointments may be delegated by him to be exercised on his behalf.

75An Institutional Act shall determine the posts or positions, other than those mentioned in the third paragraph, concerning which, on account of their importance in the guaranteeing of the rights and freedoms or the economic and social life of the Nation, the power of appointment vested in the President of the Republic shall be exercised after public consultation with the relevant standing committee in each House. The President of the Republic shall not make an appointment when the sum of the negative votes in each committee represents at least three fifths of the votes cast by the two committees. Statutes shall determine the relevant standing committees according to the posts or positions concerned.

76ARTICLE 14

77The President of the Republic shall accredit ambassadors and envoys extraordinary to foreign powers; foreign ambassadors and envoys extraordinary shall be accredited to him.

78ARTICLE 15

79The President of the Republic shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He shall preside over the higher national defence councils and committees.

80ARTICLE 16

81Where the institutions of the Republic, the independence of the Nation, the integrity of its territory or the fulfillment of its international commitments are under serious and immediate threat, and where the proper functioning of the constitutional public authorities is interrupted, the President of the Republic shall take measures required by these circumstances, after formally consulting the Prime Minister, the Presidents of the Houses of Parliament and the Constitutional Council.

82He shall address the Nation and inform it of such measures.

83The measures shall be designed to provide the constitutional public authorities as swiftly as possible, with the means to carry out their duties. The Constitutional Council shall be consulted with regard to such measures.

84Parliament shall sit as of right.

85The National Assembly shall not be dissolved during the exercise of such emergency powers.

86After thirty days of the exercise of such emergency powers, the matter may be referred to the Constitutional Council by the President of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate, sixty Members of the National Assembly or sixty Senators, so as to decide if the conditions laid down in paragraph one still apply. The Council shall make its decision publicly as soon as possible. It shall, as of right, carry out such an examination and shall make its decision in the same manner after sixty days of the exercise of emergency powers or at any moment thereafter.

87ARTICLE 17

88The President of the Republic is vested with the power to grant individual pardons.

89ARTICLE 18

90The President of the Republic shall communicate with the two Houses of Parliament by messages which he shall cause to be read aloud and which shall not give rise to any debate.

91He may take the floor before Parliament convened in Congress for this purpose. His statement may give rise, in his absence, to a debate without vote.

92When not in session, the Houses of Parliament shall be convened especially for this purpose.

93ARTICLE 19

94Instruments of the President of the Republic, other than those provided for under articles 8 (paragraph one), 11, 12, 16, 18, 54, 56 and 61, shall be countersigned by the Prime Minister and, where required, by the ministers concerned.

95Title III. THE GOVERNMENT

96ARTICLE 20

97The Government shall determine and conduct the policy of the Nation.

98It shall have at its disposal the civil service and the armed forces.

99It shall be accountable to Parliament in accordance with the terms and procedures set out in articles 49 and 50.

100ARTICLE 21

101The Prime Minister shall direct the actions of the Government. He shall be responsible for national defence. He shall ensure the implementation of legislation. Subject to article 13, he shall have power to make regulations and shall make appointments to civil and military posts.

102He may delegate certain of his powers to Ministers.

103He shall deputize, if the case arises, for the President of the Republic as chairman of the councils and committees referred to in article 15.

104He may, in exceptional cases, deputize for him as chairman of a meeting of the Council of Ministers by virtue of an express delegation of powers for a specific agenda.

105ARTICLE 22

106Instruments of the Prime Minister shall be countersigned, where required, by the ministers responsible for their implementation.

107ARTICLE 23

108Membership of the Government shall be incompatible with the holding of any Parliamentary office, any position of professional representation at national level, any public employment or any professional activity.

109An Institutional Act shall determine the manner in which the holders of such offices, positions or employment shall be replaced.

110The replacement of Members of Parliament shall take place in accordance with the provisions of article 25.

111Title IV. PARLIAMENT

112ARTICLE 24

113Parliament shall pass statutes. It shall monitor the action of the Government. It shall assess public policies.

114It shall comprise the National Assembly and the Senate.

115Members of the National Assembly, whose number shall not exceed five hundred and seventy-seven, shall be elected by direct suffrage.

116The Senate, whose members shall not exceed three hundred and forty-eight, shall be elected by indirect suffrage. The Senate shall ensure the representation of the territorial communities of the Republic.

117French nationals living abroad shall be represented in the National Assembly and in the Senate.

118ARTICLE 25

119An Institutional Act shall determine the term for which each House is elected, the number of its members, their allowances, the conditions of eligibility and the terms of disqualification and of incompatibility with membership.

120It shall likewise determine the manner of election of those persons called upon to replace Members of the National Assembly or Senators whose seats have become vacant, until the general or partial renewal by election of the House in which they sat, or have been temporarily replaced on account of having accepted a position in Government.

121An independent commission, whose composition and rules of organization and operation shall be set down by statute, shall publicly express an opinion on the Government and Private Members' Bills defining the constituencies for the election of Members of the National Assembly, or modifying the distribution of the seats of Members of the National Assembly or of Senators.

122ARTICLE 26

123No Member of Parliament shall be prosecuted, investigated, arrested, detained or tried in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast in the performance of his official duties.

124No Member of Parliament shall be arrested for a serious crime or other major offence, nor shall he be subjected to any other custodial or semi-custodial measure, without the authorization of the Bureau of the House of which he is a member. Such authorization shall not be required in the case of a serious crime or other major offence committed flagrante delicto or when a conviction has become final.

125The detention, subjecting to custodial or semi-custodial measures, or prosecution of a Member of Parliament shall be suspended for the duration of the session if the House of which he is a member so requires.

126The House concerned shall meet as of right for additional sittings in order to permit the application of the foregoing paragraph should circumstances so require.

127ARTICLE 27

128No Member shall be elected with any binding mandate.

129Members' right to vote shall be exercised in person.

130An Institutional Act may, in exceptional cases, authorize voting by proxy. In that event, no Member shall be given more than one proxy.

131ARTICLE 28

132Parliament shall sit as of right in one ordinary session which shall start on the first working day of October and shall end on the last working day of June.

133The number of days for which each House may sit during the ordinary session shall not exceed one hundred and twenty. The number of sitting weeks shall be determined by each House.

134The Prime Minister, after consulting the President of the House concerned or the majority of the members of each House may decide that said House shall meet for additional sitting days.

135The days and hours of sittings shall be determined by the Rules of Procedure of each House.

136ARTICLE 29

137Parliament shall meet in extraordinary session, at the request of the Prime Minister or of the majority of the Members of the National Assembly, to debate a specific agenda.

138Where an extraordinary session is held at the request of Members of the National Assembly, this session shall be closed by decree once all the items on the agenda for which Parliament was convened have been dealt with, or not later than twelve days after its first sitting, whichever shall be the earlier.

139The Prime Minister alone may request a new session before the end of the month following the decree closing an extraordinary session.

140ARTICLE 30

141Except where Parliament sits as of right, extraordinary sessions shall be opened and closed by a Decree of the President of the Republic.

142ARTICLE 31

143Members of the Government shall have access to both Houses. They shall address either House whenever they so request.

144They may be assisted by commissaires du Government.

145ARTICLE 32

146The President of the National Assembly shall be elected for the life of a Parliament. The President of the Senate shall be elected each time elections are held for partial renewal of the Senate.

147ARTICLE 33

148The sittings of the two Houses shall be public. A verbatim report of the debates shall be published in the Journal Officiel.

149Each House may sit in camera at the request of the Prime Minister or of one tenth of its members.

150Title V. ON RELATIONS BETWEEN PARLIAMENT AND THE GOVERNMENT

151ARTICLE 34

152Statutes shall determine the rules concerning:

153 civic rights and the fundamental guarantees granted to citizens for the exercise of their civil liberties; freedom, diversity and the independence of the media; the obligations imposed for the purposes of national defence upon the person and property of citizens;

154 nationality, the status and capacity of persons, matrimonial property systems, inheritance and gifts;

155 the determination of serious crimes and other major offences and the penalties they carry; criminal procedure; amnesty; the setting up of new categories of courts and the status of members of the Judiciary;

156 the base, rates and methods of collection of all types of taxes; the issuing of currency.

157Statutes shall also determine the rules governing:

158 the system for electing members of the Houses of Parliament, local assemblies and the representative bodies for French nationals living abroad, as well as the conditions for holding elective offices and positions for the members of the deliberative assemblies of the territorial communities;

159 the setting up of categories of public legal entities;

160 the fundamental guarantees granted to civil servants and members of the Armed Forces;

161 nationalization of companies and the transfer of ownership of companies from the public to the private sector.

162Statutes shall also lay down the basic principles of:

163 the general organization of national defence;

164 the self-government of territorial communities, their powers and revenue;

165 education;

166 the preservation of the environment;

167 systems of ownership, property rights and civil and commercial obligations;

168 Employment law, Trade Union law and Social Security.

169Finance Acts shall determine the revenue and expenditure of the State in the conditions and with the reservations provided for by an Institutional Act.

170Social Security Financing Acts shall lay down the general conditions for the financial equilibrium thereof, and taking into account forecasted revenue, shall determine expenditure targets in the conditions and with the reservations provided for by an Institutional Act.

171Programming Acts shall determine the objectives of the action of the State.

172The multiannual guidelines for public finances shall be established by Programming Acts. They shall contribute to achieving the objective of balanced accounts for public administrations.

173The provisions of this article may be further specified and completed by an Institutional Act.

174ARTICLE 34-1

175The Houses of Parliament may adopt resolutions according to the conditions determined by the Institutional Act.

176Any draft resolution, whose adoption or rejection would be considered by the Government as an issue of confidence, or which contained an injunction to the Government, shall be inadmissible and may not be included on the agenda.

177ARTICLE 35

178A declaration of war shall be authorized by Parliament.

179The Government shall inform Parliament of its decision to have the armed forces intervene abroad, at the latest three days after the beginning of said intervention. It shall detail the objectives of the said intervention. This information may give rise to a debate, which shall not be followed by a vote.

180Where the said intervention shall exceed four months, the Government shall submit the extension to Parliament for authorization. It may ask the National Assembly to make the final decision.

181If Parliament is not sitting at the end of the four-month period, it shall express its decision at the opening of the following session.

182ARTICLE 36

183A state of siege shall be decreed in the Council of Ministers.

184The extension thereof after a period of twelve days may be authorized solely by Parliament.

185ARTICLE 37

186Matters other than those coming under the scope of statute law shall be matters for regulation.

187Provisions of statutory origin enacted in such matters may be amended by decree issued after consultation with the Conseil d’état. Any such provisions passed after the coming into force of the Constitution shall be amended by decree only if the Constitutional Council has found that they are matters for regulation as defined in the foregoing paragraph.

188ARTICLE 37-1

189Statutes and regulations may contain provisions enacted on an experimental basis for limited purposes and duration.

190ARTICLE 38

191In order to implement its programme, the Government may ask Parliament for authorization, for a limited period, to take measures by Ordinance that are normally the preserve of statute law.

192Ordinances shall be issued in the Council of Ministers, after consultation with the Conseil d’état. They shall come into force upon publication, but shall lapse in the event of failure to table before Parliament the Bill to ratify them by the date set by the Enabling Act. They may only be ratified in explicit terms.

193At the end of the period referred to in the first paragraph hereinabove Ordinances may be amended solely by an Act of Parliament in those areas governed by statute law.

194ARTICLE 39

195Both the Prime Minister and Members of Parliament shall have the right to initiate legislation.

196Government Bills shall be discussed in the Council of Ministers after consultation with the Conseil d’état and shall be tabled in one or other of the two Houses. Finance Bills and Social Security Financing Bills shall be tabled first before the National Assembly. Without prejudice to the first paragraph of article 44, Bills primarily dealing with the organization of territorial communities shall be tabled first in the Senate.

197The tabling of Government Bills before the National Assembly or the Senate, shall comply with the conditions determined by an Institutional Act.

198Government Bills may not be included on the agenda if the Conference of Presidents of the first House to which the Bill has been referred, declares that the rules determined by the Institutional Act have not been complied with. In the case of disagreement between the Conference of Presidents and the Government, the President of the relevant House or the Prime Minister may refer the matter to the Constitutional Council, which shall rule within a period of eight days.

199Within the conditions provided for by statute, the President of either House may submit a Private Member's Bill tabled by a Member of the said House, before it is considered in committee, to the Conseil d’état for its opinion, unless the Member who tabled it disagrees.

200ARTICLE 40

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