The President of France, known officially as the President of the Republic (Président de la République in French), is France's elected Head of State.
Four of France's five republics have had presidents as their heads of state, making the French presidency the oldest presidency in Europe.In each of the republics' constitutions the president's powers, functions and duties, and their relationships with French governments differed.
Unlike many other European presidents, the office of the French President is quite a powerful one, especially in matters of foreign policy, although it is the prime minister and his gouvernement that are formally expected to run the country. The president names the prime minister. However, since the French National Assembly has the power to dismiss the Prime Minister's gouvernement, the president is forced to name a prime minister that is agreeable to the majority of this assembly; this leads to political cohabitation.When the majority of the Assembly sides with him, the President takes a more active role and may, in effect, direct the country's policy. The prime minister is then often a mere "fuse" — replaced when the administration becomes too unpopular.
The constitutional attributions of the president are defined in Title II of the Constitution of France.
He shall be the guarantor of national independence, territorial integrity and observance of treaties.
On the proposal of the Prime Minister, he shall appoint the other members of the Government and terminate their appointments.
He may, before the expiry of this time limit, ask Parliament to reconsider the Act or sections of the Act. Reconsideration shall not be refused.
A general election shall take place not less than twenty days and not more than forty days after the dissolution. The National Assembly shall convene as of right on the second Thursday following its election.
Should it so convene outside the period prescribed for the ordinary session, a session shall be called by right for a fifteen-day period. No further dissolution shall take place within a year following this election.
He shall inform the Nation of these measures in a message. The measures must stem from the desire to provide the constitutional public authorities, in the shortest possible time, with the means to carry out their duties. The Constitutional Council shall be consulted with regard to such measures.
Parliament shall convene as of right. The National Assembly shall not be dissolved during the exercise of the emergency powers.
Upon the death or resignation of the President, the President of the Senate becomes interim president. Alain Poher is the only man to have served this temporary position.
The official residence and office of the president is the Élysée Palace in Paris. Other presidential residences include:
the Fort de Bregançon, in southeastern France, is the current official presidential vacationing residence;
the Hôtel de Marigny; standing next to the Élysée Palace, it houses foreign official guests;
the Château de Rambouillet is normally open to visitors when not used for (rare) official meetings;
the Domaine National de Marly is normally open to visitors when not used for (rare) official meetings;
the Domaine de Souzy-la-Briche, not a historical monument, is a private residence.
Presidents of France are de jure Co-Prince of Andorra.
A distinction is made between powers exercised exclusively by the French President, and powers shared with other organs. The latter require countersignature by one or more ministers.
A - Exclusive powers
Appointment of Prime Minister (>> art. 8 of the French Constitution)
Recourse to referendum (>> art. 11) on the proposal of the Government or on the joint proposal of the two Assemblies.
The right to dissolve the National Assembly (>> art. 12)
Implementation of special powers under article 16 (>> art. 16)
The right to deliver messages to the parliamentary assemblies (>>art. 18)
Appointment of three members to the Constitutional Council, including its President (>> art. 56)
B - The other powers of the French President must be countersigned by the Prime Minister and, where required, by the appropriate ministers (>>art. 19):
The French President has the power to make regulations
He appoints ministers and terminates their appointment (>> art. 8),on the proposal of the Prime Minister.
He signs the ordinances and decrees deliberated upon in the Council of Ministers (>> art. 13).
He makes appointments to the civil and military posts of the State (>> art. 13).Article 13 lists the appointments which must be made by the Council of Ministers and refers to an institutional Act.
He may call an extraordinary session of Parliament at the request of the Government or of a majority of deputies (>> art. 30).
He has the right to grant pardon (>> art. 17)
The French President appoints ambassadors (>> art. 14)
He negotiates and ratifies treaties (>> art. 52)
The French President has the duty to promulgate Acts of Parliament within fifteen days following the final adoption of an Act and its transmission to the Government. Before the expiry of this time limit, he may ask Parliament to reconsider the Act or certain of its sections. This reconsideration may not be refused (>> art. 10).
C - The French President chairs certain organs of State
He chairs the Council of Ministers (>> art. 9)
He chairs the Higher Council of the Judiciary (Conseil supérieur de la Magistrature).
As Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, he chairs the higher national defence councils and committees (>> art. 15).