Prime Minister of France

Last updated

Prime Minister of France
Premier ministre de la République française
Portrait Jean Castex (cropped).jpg
Jean Castex

since 3 July 2020
Status Head of government
Member of Council of Ministers
Council of State
National Defence and Security Council
Reports to President of the French Republic
and to Parliament
Residence Hôtel de Matignon
Seat Paris
Appointer President of France
Term length No fixed term
Remains in office while commanding the confidence of the National Assembly
Constituting instrument Constitution of France
Precursor Several incarnations since the Ancien Régime
Inaugural holder Michel Debré
Formation4 October 1958
Salary€178,920 annually [1]

The Prime Minister of France (French: Premier ministre français) is the head of government of France. Under the Third and Fourth Republics, the officeholder was formally called President of the Council of Ministers (French: Président du Conseil des ministres), generally shortened to President of the Council (French: Président du Conseil). When the Fifth Republic was established, the presidency of the Council of Ministers was declared incumbent to the President of France.


The Prime Minister is the holder of the second highest office in 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.

Jean Castex was appointed Prime Minister of France by President Emmanuel Macron on 3 July 2020. He presented his government three days later.


The Prime Minister is appointed by the President of France, who is theoretically free to pick whomever he pleases 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 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 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, [2] the prime minister "shall direct the actions of the Government". Additionally, Article 20 [2] 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 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 which case his responsibilities 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). [2] 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). [2] 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). [2] They are, as the representative of the government, the only member of the government able to introduce legislation in Parliament.


Official reception at Hotel Matignon. Matignon gala.jpg
Official reception at Hôtel Matignon.

Under the Third Republic, the French Constitutional Laws of 1875 vested the president of the council with similar formal powers to those which at that time the British prime minister possessed. 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.


The current officeholder is Jean Castex, who was appointed on 3 July 2020.

Fifth Republic records

Length of the successive governments of the French Fifth Republic Duree des gouvernements de la Veme Republique.svg
Length of the successive governments of the French Fifth Republic

Living former prime ministers of France

See also

Related Research Articles

President of France Head of state of France

The president of France, officially the president of the French Republic, is the head of state and head of executive of France, as well as 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.

Jacques Chirac President of France from 1995 to 2007

Jacques René Chirac was a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. Chirac was previously the Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988, as well as the Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.

Political history of France

France is characterised by numerous political trends. This article provides an overview of some of them.

Dominique de Villepin 95th Prime Minister of France

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 94th Prime Minister of France

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 oder 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:

  1. The President of the Republic
  2. The Prime Minister
  3. The President of the Senate
  4. The President of the National Assembly
  5. Former Presidents of the Republic, in order of term
    1. Nicolas Sarkozy
    2. François Hollande
  6. The Government, in the order decided by the President of the Republic
  7. Former Prime Ministers, in order of term
    1. Laurent Fabius
    2. Édith Cresson
    3. Édouard Balladur
    4. Alain Juppé
    5. Lionel Jospin
    6. Jean-Pierre Raffarin
    7. Dominique de Villepin
    8. François Fillon
    9. Jean-Marc Ayrault
    10. Manuel Valls
    11. Bernard Cazeneuve
    12. Édouard Philippe
  8. The President of the Constitutional Council
  9. The Vice President of the Conseil d'État
  10. The President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council
  11. The Defender of rights
  12. Members of the National Assembly
  13. Senators
  14. European parliament members
  15. The judicial authority represented by the first President of the Court of Cassation and the public prosecutor of that court
  16. The first President of the Revenue Court and the public prosecutor of that court
  17. The Great Chancellor of the Légion d'honneur, chancellor of the National Order of Merit and the members of the councils of these orders
  18. The Chancellor of the Order of the Libération, and the members of the council of this order
  19. The Chief of the Defence Staff
Rally for the Republic Political party in France

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).

Union for French Democracy Political party in France

The Union for French Democracy was a 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 Juppé French politician

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 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

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. At age 92, Balladur is currently the oldest living former French Prime Minister.

1995 French presidential election 1995 presidential election in France

Presidential elections in France to elect the fifth president of the French Fifth Republic took place on 23 April and 7 May 1995.

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 French politician

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.

Philippe Séguin

Philippe Séguin was a French political figure who was President of the National Assembly from 1993 to 1997 and President of the Cour des Comptes of France from 2004 to 2010.

First Employment Contract 2006 controversial French law making it easier for employers to fire employees

The contrat première embauche was a new form of employment contract pushed in spring 2006 in France by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. This employment contract, available solely to employees under 26, would have made it easier for the employer to fire employees by removing the need to provide reasons for dismissal for an initial "trial period" of two years, in exchange for some financial guarantees for employees, the intention being to make employers less reluctant to hire additional staff. However, the enactment of this amendment to the so-called "Equality of Opportunity Act" establishing this contract was so unpopular that soon massive protests were held, mostly by young students, and the government rescinded the amendment.

1993 French legislative election

French legislative elections took place on 21 and 28 March 1993 to elect the tenth National Assembly of the Fifth Republic.

1986 French legislative election

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.

Politics of France Political system of France

The politics of France take place with the framework of a semi-presidential system determined by the French Constitution of the French Fifth Republic. The nation declares itself to be an "indivisible, secular, democratic, and social Republic". The constitution provides for a separation of powers and proclaims France's "attachment to the Rights of Man and the principles of national sovereignty as defined by the Declaration of 1789."

Catherine Colonna French diplomat and political figure

Catherine Colonna is a French diplomat and political figure. Since September 2019, she has been the Ambassador of France to the United Kingdom, operating from the Embassy of France, London.


  1. " Pay Check". IG.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "French National Assembly – Assemblée nationale". Archived from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2012.