The prime minister is the holder of the second-highest office in France, after the president of France. The president, who appoints but cannot dismiss the prime minister, can ask for their resignation. The Government of France, including the prime minister, can be dismissed by the National Assembly. Upon appointment, the prime minister proposes a list of ministers to the president. Decrees and decisions signed by the prime minister, like almost all executive decisions, are subject to the oversight of the administrative court system. Some decrees are taken after advice from the Council of State (French: Conseil d'État), over which the prime minister is entitled to preside. Ministers defend the programmes of their ministries to the prime minister, who makes budgetary choices. The extent to which those decisions lie with the prime minister or president often depends upon whether they are of the same political party. If so, the president may serve as both the head of state and de facto head of government, while the prime minister serves as his deputy.
Jean Castex resigned as Prime Minister on 16 May 2022, and President Emmanuel Macron appointed Élisabeth Borne, Minister of Labour, Employment and Integration, as his successor the same day. Her government, the first led by a woman since Édith Cresson in 1992, was announced four days later on 20 May. Cresson and Borne are the only women to serve as Prime Minister.
The prime minister is appointed by the president of France, who is theoretically free to pick whomever they please for the post. In practice, because the National Assembly does have the power to force the resignation of the government by adopting a motion of censure, the choice of prime minister must reflect the will of the majority in the National Assembly. Notably, immediately after the legislative election of 1986, President François Mitterrand had to appoint Jacques Chirac as prime minister although Chirac was a member of the Rally for the Republic and therefore a political opponent of Mitterrand. While Mitterrand's Socialist Party was the largest party in the National Assembly, it did not have an absolute majority. The RPR had an alliance with the Union for French Democracy, which gave them a majority. Such a situation, in which the president is forced to work with a prime minister who is a political opponent, is called a cohabitation.
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, most notably, served as prime minister from 2005 to 2007 without ever having held elected office.
Although the president's choice of prime minister must be in accordance with the majority in the National Assembly, a prime minister does not have to ask for a vote of confidence after their government's formation. They can base their legitimacy on the president's assignment as prime minister and approval of the government. However, it is traditionally expected that the government seeks a motion of confidence upon entering office.
According to article 21 of the Constitution, the prime minister "shall direct the actions of the Government". Additionally, Article 20 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 the government are appointed by the president "on the recommendation of the prime minister". In practice the prime minister acts in harmony with the president to whom he is a subordinate, except when there is a cohabitation. In such cases, a constitutional convention gives the prime minister primacy in domestic affairs, while the president oversees foreign affairs. His responsibilities, then, are akin to those of a prime minister in a parliamentary system.
The prime minister can "engage the responsibility" of their 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). 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). Before they are allowed to dissolve the assembly, the president has to consult the prime minister and the presidents of both houses of Parliament (article 12). They are, as the representative of the government, the only member of the government able to introduce legislation in Parliament.
The president of the council was vested with similar formal powers to those of the prime minister of the United Kingdom. In practice, however, this proved insufficient to command the confidence of France's multi-party parliament. 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. Under the circumstances, the president of the council was usually a fairly weak figure whose strength was more dependent on charisma than formal powers. Often, he was little more than primus inter pares, and was more the cabinet's chairman than its leader.
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. It was at this point that the post was formally named "Prime Minister" and took its present form. The 1958 Constitution includes several provisions intended to strengthen the prime minister's position, for instance by restricting the legislature's power to censure the government. As a result, a prime minister has only been censured once during the existence of the Fifth Republic, in 1962 when Georges Pompidou was toppled over objections to President Charles de Gaulle's effort to have the president popularly elected. However, at the ensuing 1962 French legislative election, de Gaulle's coalition won an increased majority, and Pompidou was reappointed prime minister.
Élisabeth Borne has served as Prime Minister since 16 May 2022.
Fifth Republic records
The only person to serve as prime minister more than once under the Fifth Republic was Jacques Chirac (1974–1976 and 1986–1988).
The youngest appointed prime minister was Laurent Fabius, on 17 July 1984. He was 37 years old.
The oldest appointed prime minister was Pierre Bérégovoy, on 2 April 1992. He was 66 years old.
The president of France, officially the President of the French Republic, is the executive head of state of France, and the commander-in-chief of the French Armed Forces. As the presidency is the supreme magistracy of the country, the officeholder is the holder of the highest office in France. The powers, functions and duties of prior presidential offices, in addition to their relation with the prime minister and Government of France, have over time differed with the various constitutional documents since the Second Republic.
Jacques René Chirac was a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. Chirac was previously Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988, as well as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.
France is characterised by numerous political trends. This article provides an overview of some of them.
Dominique Marie François René Galouzeau de Villepin is a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France from 31 May 2005 to 17 May 2007 under President Jacques Chirac.
Jean-Pierre Raffarin is a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France from 6 May 2002 to 31 May 2005.
The order of precedence for public ceremonies in France is established by Décret n°89-655 du 13 septembre 1989 relatif aux cérémonies publiques, préséances, honneurs civils et militaires. The original order has been modified since 1989, for example inserting the Defender of Rights after that office's 2011 creation. As of 21 January 2021 the order is as follows:
The President of the Republic
The Prime Minister
The President of the Senate
The President of the National Assembly
Former Presidents of the Republic, in order of term
The Government, in the order decided by the President of the Republic
Former Prime Ministers, in order of term
Dominique de Villepin
The President of the Constitutional Council
The Vice President of the Conseil d'État
The President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council
The Defender of Rights
Members of the National Assembly
European parliament members
The judicial authority represented by the first President of the Court of Cassation and the public prosecutor of that court
The first President of the Revenue Court and the public prosecutor of that court
The Great Chancellor of the Légion d'honneur, chancellor of the National Order of Merit and the members of the councils of these orders
The Chancellor of the Order of the Libération, and the members of the council of this order
The Chief of the Defence Staff
The Rally for the Republic, was a Gaullist and conservative political party in France. Originating from the Union of Democrats for the Republic (UDR), it was founded by Jacques Chirac in 1976 and presented itself as the heir of Gaullist politics. On 21 September 2002, the RPR was merged into the Union for the Presidential Majority, later renamed the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).
The Union for French Democracy was a centre to centre-right political party in France. It was founded in 1978 as an electoral alliance to support President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in order to counterbalance the Gaullist preponderance over the political right in France. This name was chosen due to the title of Giscard d'Estaing's 1976 book, Démocratie française. The party brought together Christian democrats, liberals and radicals, and non-Gaullist conservatives, and described itself as centrist.
In France, the term Gaullist Party is usually used to refer to the largest party professing to be Gaullist. Gaullism claims to transcend the left–right divide in a similar way to populist republican parties elsewhere such as Fianna Fáil in Republic of Ireland, the Justicialist Party in Argentina, and the African National Congress in South Africa.
Alain Marie Juppé is a French politician. A member of The Republicans, he was Prime Minister of France from 1995 to 1997 under President Jacques Chirac, during which period he faced major strikes that paralysed the country and became very unpopular. He left office after the victory of the left in the snap 1997 legislative elections. He had previously served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1993 to 1995, and as Minister of the Budget and Spokesman for the Government from 1986 to 1988. He was president of the political party Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) from 2002 to 2004 and mayor of Bordeaux from 1995 to 2004.
Édouard Balladur is a French politician who served as Prime Minister of France under François Mitterrand from 29 March 1993 to 17 May 1995. He unsuccessfully ran for president in the 1995 French presidential election, coming in third place.
Presidential elections were held in France on 23 April, with a second round on 7 May.
Cohabitation is a system of divided government that occurs in semi-presidential systems, such as France, whenever 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 who will be acceptable to the majority party within parliament. Thus, cohabitation occurs because of the duality of the executive: an independently elected president and a prime minister who must be acceptable both to the president and to the legislature.
Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, often known as RDDV, is a French politician, France's Minister of Culture from 2004 to 2007. He is a member of the UMP center-right party, and the grandson of Henri Donnedieu de Vabres.
Jean-Louis Debré is a former French judge and politician who served as President of the National Assembly from 2002 to 2007 and President of the Constitutional Council from 2007 to 2016. He was Minister of the Interior from 1995 until 1997 during the presidency of Jacques Chirac. Since 2016 he has been President of the Superior Council of Archives.
Patrick Devedjian was a French politician of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party. A close adviser of Nicolas Sarkozy since the 1990s, he was Minister under the Prime Minister in charge of the Implementation of the Recovery Plan, a special ministerial post created for two years following the global financial crisis of 2008, a tenure which commenced in December 2008. He was of Armenian descent. In the night of 28 to 29 March 2020, he died of COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic.
French legislative elections took place on 21 and 28 March 1993 to elect the tenth National Assembly of the Fifth Republic.
The French legislative elections took place on 16 March 1986 to elect the eighth 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.
Catherine Colonna is a French diplomat and politician who has served as Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs in the government of Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne since 20 May 2022.
Édouard Charles Philippe is a French politician serving as Mayor of Le Havre since 2020, previously holding the office from 2010 to 2017. He was Prime Minister of France from 15 May 2017 to 3 July 2020 under President Emmanuel Macron.