Questions and answers on the presidential elections in France 2022: How is the president chosen? | International


France decides this Sunday if it wants the centrist Emmanuel Macron (Amiens, 44 years old) to govern for another five years or if it prefers to bet on the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen (Neuilly-sur-Seine, 53 years old), who for the second consecutive time has managed to reach the second round of the country’s presidential elections. On the way there have been another 10 candidates eliminated in the first round, held on April 10. These are the keys to the new appointment before the polls:

How is the president elected in France?

The French president (or president, although there has not yet been one) is elected by direct universal suffrage for a five-year term, renewable only once, although he can run again if another governs in between. If no candidate manages to obtain more than half of the votes cast (those deposited in the ballot box count, except for blank and invalid votes), the two with the most votes received in the first round go to a second and final round 15 more days. afternoon, which is the appointment that the French have this Sunday. The first round was held on April 10 and 12 candidates applied, of which only the outgoing president Emmanuel Macron (with 27.8% of the votes) and Marine Le Pen (23.1%), leader of the far-right National Regroupment party.

Who can vote?

Of France’s 67.8 million inhabitants, a total of 48.7 million French adults are registered to vote this Sunday. One of the great doubts is how many of them will do so, since, once again, the shadow of abstention hangs over these elections. According to various polls, abstention could be around 26% this Sunday, similar to that of April 10, which was already classified as the highest rate for a presidential election in the last 20 years. In the first face-to-face between Macron and Le Pen, five years ago, abstention was 23.7%.

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The Ministry of the Interior usually gives the first data on the participation rate at 12:00 and 17:00.

When will the results be known?

Polling stations open in metropolitan (mainland) France at 8:00 a.m. and close mostly at 7:00 p.m., except in large cities, where some remain open until 8:00 p.m. For this reason, only after that time do the results begin to be given at the exit of the ballot box. Although the official count lasts much longer, in general these first data are considered practically definitive, so the winning candidate will probably take the floor shortly after, just like the defeated one.

An exception to voting times: the overseas territories (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyana, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin or French Polynesia) voted on Saturday.

How many French presidents have managed to be re-elected?

Since the presidential term was shortened from seven to five years, in 2002, no president has been re-elected: the conservative Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2012) lost to the socialist François Hollande in 2012 and he decided in 2017 not to stand for re-election. Nor did Valéry Giscard d’Estaing succeed in renewing a first seven-year term in 1981. So, if he wins this Sunday, Macron will join a very exclusive club of presidents who have been re-elected under the Fifth Republic: only General Charles de Gaulle, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac (who got it in 2002 when he first served time the republican front or cordon sanitaire against the extreme right and prevailing in the second round against the father of the current candidate and then ultra leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen).

What powers does a French president have?

The French president is the head of state and armies. As head of State, “embodies the authority of the State”, according to article 5 of the Constitution, and is, therefore, in charge of ensuring respect for the Constitution, guaranteeing the functioning of the institutions and the continuity of the State . That is, he acts as an arbitrator. Looking abroad, he is the “guarantor of national independence”, of territorial integrity and of respect for the treaties signed by France. And he names the ambassadors.

As head of the Armies, he presides over the higher councils and committees of national defense. And since France is a nuclear power, the president is the only one who holds the “nuclear fire”, the codes to order an attack with an atomic bomb.

Finally, the president is also the chief executive. As such, he appoints the prime minister, promulgates the laws, signs the decrees (but does not decide on them, only allows them to come into force), presides over the councils of ministers, can submit a bill to a referendum, and can dissolve the National Assembly. .

Is the president of France a “republican monarch” with full powers?

France is often referred to as a “republican monarchy” because of the vast amount of power that seems to be in the hands of a single person, the president. However, things are not that simple, especially if the presidential electoral victory is not followed by a legislative victory that ensures the Elysée tenant a parliamentary majority that will not contradict his plans.

Although since the presidential term was shortened to five years there has been no cohabitation (a prime minister from a different party than the president), this situation is still possible. In fact, the leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who came third in the primaries, has called for the majority of the French to vote for his formation to be able to be prime minister, who is the one who runs the day-to-day internal politics of the country, and thus act as a counterweight to Macron or Le Pen, in the event of an (unlikely, but not impossible) victory for them.

Although the Constitution does not oblige the president to appoint a prime minister arising from the majority of the National Assembly, if he does not do so, he can topple his government by calling a motion of censure. In extremis, the president could dissolve the National Assembly, but this would cause a paralysis of the government that nobody seems to want at the moment.

All the reforms that require a change in the law and, therefore, pass through Parliament, such as the retirement reform that Macron wants to promote, or the restrictions on immigration that Marine Le Pen promises, could be paralyzed as a result.

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