Cantons of France

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The cantons of France are territorial subdivisions of the French Republic's arrondissements and departments.

An arrondissement is a level of administrative division in France generally corresponding to the territory overseen by a subprefect. As of 2018, the 101 French departments were divided into 332 arrondissements.

In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government below the national level, between the administrative regions and the commune. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, and five are overseas departments, which are also classified as regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; the last two have no autonomy, and are used for the organisation of police, fire departments, and sometimes, elections.

Contents

Apart from their role as organizational units in certain aspects of the administration of public services and justice, the chief purpose of the cantons today is to serve as constituencies for the election of the members of the representative assembly (General Council) in each department. For this reason, such elections are known in France as "cantonal elections".

As of 2015, there are 2,054 cantons in France. [1] Most of them group together some communes (the lowest administrative division of the French Republic), although larger communes may comprise several cantons, since the cantons are intended to be roughly equal in population – unlike the communes, which range from more than two million inhabitants (Paris) to just one person (Rochefourchat).

The commune is a level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are analogous to civil townships and incorporated municipalities in the United States and Canada, Gemeinden in Germany or comuni in Italy. The United Kingdom has no exact equivalent, as communes resemble districts in urban areas, but are closer to parishes in rural areas where districts are much larger. Communes are based on historical geographic communities or villages and are vested with significant powers to manage the populations and land of the geographic area covered. The communes are the fourth-level administrative divisions of France.

Rochefourchat Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Rochefourchat is a commune in the Drôme department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southeastern France. In the commune there is a single house, a converted barn, and the ruins of an old castle. The nearest communes to Rochefourchat are Saint-Nazaire-le-Désert, Les Tonils, Pradelle, and Brette.

Role and administration

The role of the canton is, essentially, to provide a framework for departmental elections. Each canton elects a woman and a man to represent it at the conseil général du département – or general council for the department, which is the principal administrative division of the French Republic.

In urban areas, a single commune generally includes several cantons. Conversely, in rural areas, a canton may comprise several smaller communes. In the latter case, administrative services, the gendarmerie headquarters for example, are often situated in the principal town ( chef-lieu ) of the canton, although there are exceptions, such as cantons Gaillon-Campagne and Sarreguemines-Campagne, which have in common a "chief-town" which does not belong to either canton.

Gendarmerie military force charged with police duties among civilian populations

A gendarmerie or gendarmery is a military component with jurisdiction in civil law enforcement. The term gendarme is derived from the medieval French expression gens d'armes, which translates to "armed people". In France and some Francophone nations, the gendarmerie is a branch of the armed forces responsible for internal security in parts of the territory with additional duties as a military police for the armed forces. This concept was introduced to several other Western European countries during the Napoleonic conquests. In the mid twentieth century, a number of former French mandates or colonial possessions such as Lebanon, Syria, and the Republic of the Congo adopted a gendarmerie after independence.

For statistical (INSEE) purposes, the twenty arrondissements of Paris – the administrative subdivisions of that city – are sometimes considered cantons, but they serve no greater electoral function. [2]

Arrondissements of Paris Place in Île-de-France, France

The city of Paris is divided into twenty arrondissements municipaux, administrative districts, more simply referred to as arrondissements. These are not to be confused with departmental arrondissements, which subdivide the 100 French départements. The word "arrondissement", when applied to Paris, refers almost always to the municipal arrondissements listed below. The number of the arrondissement is indicated by the last two digits in most Parisian postal codes.

Cantons also form legal districts, as seats of Tribunaux d'instance or "Courts of First Instance" (also, "TI"...). Historically, the cantons are called justices de paix or "district courts".

History

The cantons were created in 1790 at the same time as the départements by the Revolutionary Committee for the Division of Territory (Comité de division). They were more numerous than today (between 40 and 60 to each département). Cantons were, at first, grouped into what were called districts. After the abolition of the district in 1800, they were reorganized by the Consulate into arrondissements. The number of cantons was then drastically reduced (between 30 and 50 units) by the Loi du 8 pluviôse an IX (28 January 1801), or the "Law for the Reduction of the Number of District Courts", or Loi portant réduction du nombre de justices de paix in French. The département prefects were told by the government to group the communes within newly established cantons. The département lists, once approved by the government, were published in the Bulletin des lois in 1801 and 1802; these lists were the basis of the administrative divisions of France from then until 2015, although cantons with small populations were eliminated and new cantons created in areas of strong demographic growth. On the whole, their number increased appreciably.

In May 2013 a law was adopted that reduced the number of cantons drastically. [3] This law came into effect at the French departmental elections in March 2015. Before the cantonal reform, there were 4,032 cantons, afterwards 2054, with the cantons in Martinique and Guyana abolished. [4] The 2013 reform law also changed the representation of the cantons in the departmental councils: each canton is now represented by a man and a woman. [3]

Statistics

The number of cantons varies from one département to another; the Territoire de Belfort, for example, has 9, while Nord has 41.

See also

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References

  1. Roger Brunet (2015). "New cantons in France: Name games". L’Espace géographique. 44. doi:10.3917/eg.441.0073.
  2. INSEE, Populations légales 2012 des cantons - découpage 2015
  3. 1 2 LOI n° 2013-403 du 17 mai 2013 relative à l'élection des conseillers départementaux, des conseillers municipaux et des conseillers communautaires, et modifiant le calendrier électoral
  4. INSEE (French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies) Code Officiel Géographique