French National Assembly

The French National Assembly is the lower house
Lower house
A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legislatures worldwide the lower house has come to wield more power...

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

 under the Fifth Republic
French Fifth Republic
The Fifth Republic is the fifth and current republican constitution of France, introduced on 4 October 1958. The Fifth Republic emerged from the collapse of the French Fourth Republic, replacing the prior parliamentary government with a semi-presidential system...

. The upper house
Upper house
An upper house, often called a senate, is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house; a legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.- Possible specific characteristics :...

 is the Senate ("Sénat").

The National Assembly's members are known as députés ("delegate" or "envoy" in English; the word is an etymological cognate
In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common etymological origin. This learned term derives from the Latin cognatus . Cognates within the same language are called doublets. Strictly speaking, loanwords from another language are usually not meant by the term, e.g...

 of the English word "deputy", usually "adjoint" in French).

There are 577 députés, each elected by a single-member constituency through a two-rounds system
Two-round system
The two-round system is a voting system used to elect a single winner where the voter casts a single vote for their chosen candidate...

. 289 seats are therefore required for a majority. The assembly is presided over by a president (currently Bernard Accoyer
Bernard Accoyer
Bernard Accoyer is a French politician who is currently the President of the National Assembly of France, as well as the Mayor of Annecy-le-Vieux.-Biography:...

), 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 he has dissolved it in the preceding twelve months. This measure is becoming rarer since the 2000 referendum
French constitutional referendum, 2000
A constitutional referendum was held in France on 24 September 2000. The proposals would result in the mandate of the President being reduced from seven years to five years in line with terms in office in other European countries...

 reduced the President's term from seven to five years : a President usually has a majority elected in the Assembly two months after him, and it would be useless for him to dissolve it for those reasons.

The official seat of the National Assembly is the Palais Bourbon
Palais Bourbon
The Palais Bourbon, , a palace located on the left bank of the Seine, across from the Place de la Concorde, Paris , is the seat of the French National Assembly, the lower legislative chamber of the French government.-History:...

 on the banks of the river Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

 (48.861899°N 2.318605°W); the Assembly also uses other neighbouring buildings, including the Immeuble Chaban-Delmas on the rue de l'Université (48.860799°N 2.315902°W). It is guarded by Republican Guards
French Republican Guard
The Republican Guard is part of the French Gendarmerie. It is responsible for providing security in the Paris area and for providing guards of honor.Its missions include:...


Following a tradition started by the first National Assembly
National Assembly (French Revolution)
During the French Revolution, the National Assembly , which existed from June 17 to July 9, 1789, was a transitional body between the Estates-General and the National Constituent Assembly.-Background:...

 during the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, 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
Political spectrum
A political spectrum is a way of modeling different political positions by placing them upon one or more geometric axes symbolizing independent political dimensions....

 as represented in the Assembly.

Relationships with the executive

The Constitution
Constitution of France
The current Constitution of France was adopted on 4 October 1958. It is typically called the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, and replaced that of the Fourth Republic dating from 1946. Charles de Gaulle was the main driving force in introducing the new constitution and inaugurating the Fifth...

 of the French Fifth Republic
French Fifth Republic
The Fifth Republic is the fifth and current republican constitution of France, introduced on 4 October 1958. The Fifth Republic emerged from the collapse of the French Fourth Republic, replacing the prior parliamentary government with a semi-presidential system...

 greatly increased the power of the executive at the expense of Parliament, compared to previous constitutions (Third
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 and Fourth Republic
French Fourth Republic
The French Fourth Republic 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, which was in place before World War II, and suffered many of the same problems...


The President of the Republic can decide to dissolve the National Assembly and call for new legislative elections. This is meant as a way to resolve stalemates where the Assembly cannot decide on a clear political direction. This possibility is seldom exercised. The last dissolution was by Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

 in 1997, following from the lack of popularity of prime minister Alain Juppé
Alain Juppé
Alain Marie Juppé is a French politician currently serving as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He also served as Prime Minister of France from 1995 to 1997 under President Jacques Chirac and the Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs from 2010 to 2011...

; however, the plan backfired, and the newly elected majority was opposed to Chirac.

The National Assembly can overthrow the executive government (that is, the Prime Minister and other ministers) by a vote of no-confidence (motion de censure). For this reason, the prime minister and his cabinet are necessarily from the dominant party or coalition in the assembly. In the case of a president and assembly from opposing parties, this leads to the situation known as cohabitation
Cohabitation (government)
Cohabitation in government occurs in semi-presidential systems, such as France's system, when the President is from a different political party than the majority of the members of parliament. It occurs because such a system forces the president to name a premier that will be acceptable to the...

; this situation, which has occurred three times (twice under Mitterrand, once under Chirac), is likely to be rarer now that presidential and assembly terms are the same length.

While motions de censure are periodically proposed by the opposition following government actions that it deems highly inappropriate, they are purely rhetorical; party discipline ensures that, throughout a parliamentary term, the government is never overthrown by the Assembly. Since the beginning of the Fifth Republic
French Fifth Republic
The Fifth Republic is the fifth and current republican constitution of France, introduced on 4 October 1958. The Fifth Republic emerged from the collapse of the French Fourth Republic, replacing the prior parliamentary government with a semi-presidential system...

, there has only been one single successful motion de censure, in 1962 in hostility to the referendum on the method of election of the President
French presidential election referendum, 1962
A referendum on the direct election of the President was held in France on 28 October 1962. It was approved by 62.3% of voters with a 77.0% turnout...

, and president Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 dissolved the Assembly within a few days.

The Government (the Prime Minister and the Minister of relationships with Parliament) used to set the priorities of the agenda for the Assembly's sessions, except for a single day each month. In practice, given the number of priority items, it meant that the schedule of the Assembly was almost entirely set by the executive; bills generally only have a chance to be examined if proposed or supported by the executive. This, however, was amended on 23 July 2008. Under the amended constitution, the Government sets the priorities for two weeks in a month. Another week is designated for the Assembly's "control" prerogatives (consisting mainly of verbal questions addressed to the government). And the fourth one is set by the Assembly. Also, one day per month is set by a "minority" (group supporting the government but which isn't the biggest group) or "opposition" (group having officially declared it didn't support the government) group.

Members of the assembly can ask written or oral questions to ministers. The Wednesday afternoon session of oral "questions to the Government" is shown on television. It is largely a show for the viewers, with members of the majority generally asking praising questions, while the opposition tries to embarrass the government.


Since 1988, the 577 deputies are elected by the direct universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 with a two-round system
Two-round system
The two-round system is a voting system used to elect a single winner where the voter casts a single vote for their chosen candidate...

 by constituency, for a five-year mandate, subject to dissolution. The constituencies each have approximately 100,000 inhabitants. The electoral law of 1986 specifies that variations of population between constituencies should not, in any case, lead to a constituency exceeding more than 20% the average population of the constituencies of the département. However, districts were not redrawn between 1982 and 2009. As a result of population movements over that period, there were inequalities between the less populous rural districts and the urban districts. For example, the deputy for the most populous constituency, in the department of Val-d'Oise
Val-d'Oise is a French department, created in 1968 after the split of the Seine-et-Oise department and located in the Île-de-France region. In local slang, it is known as "quatre-vingt quinze" or "neuf cinq"...

, represented 188,000 voters, while the deputy for the least populous constituency, in the department of Lozère
Lozère , is a department in southeast France near the Massif Central, named after Mont Lozère.- History :Lozère is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790...

, represented only 34,000. The constituencies were redrawn in 2009, but this redistribution
Redistribution (election)
Redistribution , called redistricting in the United States, is the process of changing of political borders. This is a form of boundary delimitation that changes electoral district boundaries, usually in response to periodic census results that cause malportionment of representation...

 was controversial. Among other controversial measures, it created eleven constituencies and seats for French residents overseas
Constituencies for French residents overseas
The constituencies for French residents overseas are eleven French constituencies, each electing one representative to the National Assembly....

, albeit without increasing the overall number of seats beyond 577.

To be elected in the first round of voting, a candidate must obtain at least 50% of the votes cast, with a turn-out of at least 25% of the registered voters on the electoral rolls. If no candidate is elected in the first round, those who poll in excess of 12.5% of the registered voters in the first-round vote are entered in the second round of voting. If no candidate comply such conditions, the two highest-placing candidates advance to second round. In the second round, the candidate who receives the most votes is elected. Each candidate is enrolled along with a substitute, who takes the candidate's place in the event of inability to represent the constituency, when the deputy becomes minister for example.

The organic law
Organic law
An organic or fundamental law is a law or system of laws which forms the foundation of a government, corporation or other organization's body of rules. A constitution is a particular form of organic law for a sovereign state....

 of 10 July 1985 established a system of party-list proportional representation
Party-list proportional representation
Party-list proportional representation systems are a family of voting systems emphasizing proportional representation in elections in which multiple candidates are elected...

 within the framework of the . It was necessary within this framework to obtain at least 5% of the vote to elect an official. However, the legislative election of 1986
French legislative election, 1986
The French legislative elections took place on 16 March 1986 to elect the 8th National Assembly of the Fifth Republic. Contrary to other legislative elections of the Fifth Republic, the electoral system used was that of Party-list proportional representation.Since the 1981 election of François...

, carried out under this system, gave France a new majority which returned to the plurality voting system
Plurality voting system
The plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system often used to elect executive officers or to elect members of a legislative assembly which is based on single-member constituencies...

. There are 570 elected officials of the departments, five representatives of the overseas collectivities (two for French Polynesia
French Polynesia
French Polynesia is an overseas country of the French Republic . It is made up of several groups of Polynesian islands, the most famous island being Tahiti in the Society Islands group, which is also the most populous island and the seat of the capital of the territory...

, one for Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna, officially the Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands , is a Polynesian French island territory in the South Pacific between Tuvalu to the northwest, Rotuma of Fiji to the west, the main part of Fiji to the southwest, Tonga to the southeast,...

, one for Saint Pierre and Miquelon and one for Mayotte
Mayotte is an overseas department and region of France consisting of a main island, Grande-Terre , a smaller island, Petite-Terre , and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, namely between northwestern Madagascar and...

) and two for New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

 since 1986.

Conditions and privileges for members

The allowances and privileges of the members: Assembly members receive a salary of 7,043.69 euros per month (USD 10,389.49). There is also the "compensation representing official expenses" ("IRFM" – indemnité représentative de frais de mandat) of 5 867,39 euros per month (USD 8,654.44) to pay costs related to the office, and finally a total of 8 949 euros per month (USD 11,884.07) to pay up to 5 employees. They also have an office in the Assembly, various advantages in terms of transport and communications, social security, a pension fund and unemployment insurance specific. Under Article 26 of the Constitution, deputies, like Senators, are protected by parliamentary immunity.
In the case of an accumulation of mandates, a member cannot receive a wage of more than 9 779.11 euros (USD 14,424.25).

Accumulation of mandates and minimum age (see Cumul des mandats
Cumul des mandats
The cumul des mandats , is a political practice that has evidenced itself in modern French politics. It consists of holding several political offices at multiple levels of government...

): Since 1958, the position of member of the National Assembly is incompatible with that of any other elected member (Senator or Member of European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

), or with some administrative functions (members of the Constitutional Council of France
Constitutional Council of France
The Constitutional Council is the highest constitutional authority in France. It was established by the Constitution of the Fifth Republic on 4 October 1958, and its duty is to ensure that the principles and rules of the constitution are upheld.Its main activity is to rule on whether proposed...

 and senior officials such as prefects, magistrates or officers who are ineligible for Department where they are stationed). Members may not have more than one local mandate (in a municipal, intercommunal, general or regional council) in addition to their current mandate. The mandate is also incompatible with a ministerial function. Upon appointment to the Government, the elected member has one month to choose between the mandate and the office. If he or she chooses the second option, then they are replaced by their deputy.

To be eligible to be elected to the National Assembly, one must be at least 23 years old, of French citizenship, and not subject to a sentence of deprivation of civil rights or to personal bankruptcy
Personal bankruptcy
Personal bankruptcy is a procedure which, in certain jurisdictions, allows an individual to declare bankruptcy. In other jurisdictions, bankruptcies are reserved for corporations.-Canada:...


Current membership

The last legislative elections, held in June 2007
French legislative election, 2007
The French legislative elections took place on 10 June and 17 June 2007 to elect the 13th National Assembly of the Fifth Republic, a few weeks after the French presidential election run-off on 6 May. 7,639 candidates stood for 577 seats, including France's overseas possessions...

 resulted in the following distribution of seats:

13th Assembly by parliamentary group

French National Assembly
French National Assembly
The French National Assembly is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of France under the Fifth Republic. The upper house is the Senate ....

 by parliamentary group
Group Leader Parties Total
Union for a Popular Movement
Union for a Popular Movement
The Union for a Popular Movement is a centre-right political party in France, and one of the two major contemporary political parties in the country along with the center-left Socialist Party...

 (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire)
Christian Jacob
Christian Jacob
Christian Jacob is a lyrical jazz pianist who ranks among the top piano improvisers and accompanists working today. He has gained widespread exposure as musical director and performer with vocalist Tierney Sutton, although he has also maintained a substantial career as a solo artist and...

UMP, DVD 320
Socialist, Radical, and Citizen Group (Groupe socialiste, radical, et citoyen) Jean-Marc Ayrault
Jean-Marc Ayrault
Jean-Marc Ayrault is a French politician and a member of the French Socialist Party. He is currently Mayor of Nantes and President of the Socialist Party group in the French National Assembly....

Democratic and Republican Left
Gauche démocrate et républicaine
The Democratic and Republican Left is a French parliamentary group in the 13th Assembly elected in 2007.This is the first time since the 1958-1962 legislature that the Communists have been unable to form an exclusive group of Communist deputies....

 (Gauche démocrate et républicaine)
Jean-Claude Sandrier
Jean-Claude Sandrier
Jean-Claude Sandrier is a French politician and former Mayor of Bourges. He is a member of the French Communist Party....

New Centre-Presidential Majority (Nouveau Centre-Majorité Présidentielle) François Sauvadet
François Sauvadet
François Sauvadet is the president of the Côte-d'Or department and the parliamentary leader of the New Centre. He is a member of the New Centre. He represents the 4th constituency of the Cote-d'Or inthe French National Assembly....

Non-Inscrits MoDem, DLR, MPF 6
Total 577

See also

  • Deputies of the 12th French National Assembly
    Deputies of the 12th French National Assembly
    List in alphabetical order of the deputies of the 12th French National Assembly .-A:* Mr. Jean-Pierre Abelin, UDF, Vienne* Mr. Jean-Claude Abrioux, UMP, Seine-Saint-Denis* Mr. Bernard Accoyer, UMP, Haute-Savoie* Ms. Patricia Adam, socialist, Finistère...

  • Deputies of the 13th French National Assembly
    Deputies of the 13th French National Assembly
    List in alphabetical order of the deputies of the 13th French National Assembly .See also:*by constituency-A:-B:-C:-D:-E:-F:-G:-H:-I:-J:-K:-L:-M:-N:-O:-P:-Q:-R:-S:-T:-U:-V:-W:-Y:...

  • French Congress
  • French Parliament
  • List of Presidents of the French National Assembly
  • National Assembly
    National Assembly
    National Assembly is either a legislature, or the lower house of a bicameral legislature in some countries. The best known National Assembly, and the first legislature to be known by this title, was that established during the French Revolution in 1789, known as the Assemblée nationale...

  • Politics of France
    Politics of France
    France is a semi-presidential representative democratic republic, in which the President of France is head of state and the Prime Minister of France is the head of government, and there is a pluriform, multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is...

External links

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