As nationalist leader Maríne Le Pen intends to hold a referendum on France’s membership in the EU, investors are carefully following what is happening.
“In order to assess the scale of the new president’s influence, it is necessary to analyze all 4 rounds of elections. The classic scenario presupposes that the President receives a majority in the National Assembly”, says Armel le Divellec, professor of constitutional law at Pantheon-Assas Paris II University.
How are presidential elections held?
The French elect the head of state every 5 years. Theoretically, a candidate can win the first round, but in practice, the second round is also usually held, two weeks after the first. This year the voting will be held on April 23rd and May 7th.
Does the leader of the 1st round win in elections?
Not always. Since 1965, there have been 5 such cases, but in 1974, 1981 and 1995, the second candidate won.
How are parliamentary elections held?
On June 11 and 18, elections to the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, are to be held in France. If the president’s party gets a majority, the executive branch will be concentrated in the hands of the head of state. If the opposition gets the majority, it will rule, and the president will have to adjust.
It is the parliamentary elections that will determine the scale of the future president’s influence.
Who rules the country?
The president has executive power, but he cannot lead without the support of the prime minister and the cabinet, who must approve the bills to allocate budget funds.
However, the prime minister and cabinet can bypass the parliament in some situations, as Manuel Valls did last year with regard to labor reform, but the president cannot do this.
If Le Pen wins, will she control the parliament?
No. The “National Front” has so far only two representatives in the National Assembly, in the absence of allies, who would help form a coalition.
The chances of Emmanuel Macron to get a majority are also low, but he is more likely to be able to form a coalition.
Can the president call a unilateral referendum?
According to the constitution – no, because for this the president needs the support of either a prime minister or a majority in both houses of parliament. Right-of-centre republicans have a majority in the Senate, and half of the upper house will be re-elected in September.
However, in 1962, President Charles de Gaulle made the round of the parliament and held a referendum on the electoral system. However, he enlisted the support of the prime minister and the cabinet.
After the inauguration in May and before the approval of new parliament in July, the president will have to appoint a temporary prime minister and the cabinet.
It is during this period that the president can call a referendum, since the old assembly will not have the right of veto.
What can the president do?
The President can dissolve the National Assembly once a year; in addition, he receives extraordinary powers during crisis situations, such as infall into the country or internal rebellions.