Prime Minister of France

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Prime Minister of the
French Republic
Premier ministre de la République française
Armoiries republique francaise.svg
Flag of France.svg
Gabriel Attal, February 2023.jpg
Gabriel Attal
since 9 January 2024
Council of Ministers of the French Republic
Government of France
Style Mister Prime Minister
His Excellency
Status Head of government
Member of
Reports to
Residence Hôtel Matignon
Seat Paris, France
Appointer President
Term length No term limit
Constituting instrument Constitution of France
Precursor Several titles were used since the Ancien Régime
Inaugural holder Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
Formation9 July 1815;208 years ago (1815-07-09)
Salary€178,920 annually [1]

The prime minister of France (French: Premier ministre français), officially the prime minister of the French Republic, is the head of government of the French Republic and the leader of the Council of Ministers.


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 request 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.

The current Prime Minister is Gabriel Attal, who was appointed on 9 January 2024. [2]


The prime minister is appointed by the president of France, who is theoretically free to pick anyone for the post. In practice, because the National Assembly has 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 experience in bureaucracy or foreign service, or success in business management—Dominique de Villepin, most notably, served as prime minister from 2005 to 2007 without 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 a government formation, having been legitimized by the president's assignment and approval of the government. It is traditionally expected that the government seeks a motion of confidence upon entering office.


According to article 21 of the Constitution, [3] the prime minister "shall direct the actions of the Government". Additionally, Article 20 [3] 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, 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. The responsibilities are like those of a prime minister in a parliamentary system.

The prime minister can "engage the responsibility" of the 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). [3] 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). [3] Before dissolving the assembly, the president must consult the prime minister and the presidents of both houses of Parliament (article 12). [3] The prime minister is the only member of the government able to introduce legislation in Parliament.


Hotel Matignon, the official residence of the prime minister Matignon (perron).jpg
Hôtel Matignon, the official residence of the prime minister

Under the Third Republic, the French Constitutional Laws of 1875 titled the head of government as the "President of the Council of Ministers" (French : Président du Conseil des Ministres), though he was informally called "prime minister" or "premier" outside of France.

The president of the council was vested with similar formal powers to those of the prime minister of the United Kingdom. In practice, 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. At the ensuing 1962 French legislative election, de Gaulle's coalition won an increased majority, and Pompidou was reappointed prime minister.

See also

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  2. Chrisafis, Angelique (9 January 2024). "Gabriel Attal appointed youngest French PM as Macron tries to revive popularity". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 9 January 2024.
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