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Assemblée nationale (National Assembly)

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Parliament name (generic / translated) Parlement / Parliament
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name Assemblée nationale
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Sénat / Senate
Type of political regime semi-presidential
Notes The French political system may be defined as semi-presidential. The President of the Republic is elected by universal direct suffrage and exercises significant powers of his or her own. But there is also a Government which determines and guides national policy and which is responsible before the parliament.
Head of the executive President of the Republic
Notes Article 21 of the Constitution stipulates that the Prime Minister leads government activity. He or she could therefore be seen as the head of the executive. However, the legitimacy that the President procures from his election by direct suffrage, at a time of cohesion between the presidential and parliamentary majorities, causes him to act, de facto, as the head of the executive.
Method for appointing the executive The president is elected by universal direct suffrage in a two-ballot majority poll. In order to be elected in the first round a candidate must win the absolute majority of the popular vote. If this is not achieved in the first round, two weeks later a second round takes place, in which the two candidates alone may take part who, if need be after the withdrawal of more popular candidates, obtained the highest number of votes in the first round (Articles 6 et 7 of the Constitution). The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, as with the other members of the Government, upon the proposal of the Prime Minister (Article 8 of the Constitution).
Term of office of the executive and coincidence with the term of the legislature Following the constitutional amendment of 24 September 2000, the term of office of the President is five years, compared with seven years previously. So it equals that of a deputy but the two terms do not necessarily coincide, owing to the potential dissolution of the National Assembly, death, a permanent impeachment or a presidential resignation.
Incompatibility of the functions of member of the executive and member of Parliament Yes While in office parliamentarians may not concurrently hold ministerial posts (Article 23 of the Constitution). This incompatibility takes effect a month after the appointment of a parliamentarian to government member status. Therefore, a parliamentarian turned minister who quits the Government or who is dismissed from office during this period retains his or her parliamentary mandate. However, during this period, he or she may not take part in any vote.
Dissolution of Parliament Yes
  • Circumstances
Only the National Assembly may be dissolved. The Senate, elected by indirect suffrage, and which guarantees the representation of the territorial communities, cannot be dissolved. In practice, dissolutions declared under the Fifth Republic have been to make the people settle a conflict between the executive and the parliamentary majority after a political crisis, or to prevent one. However, this was not the case with the last dissolution, in 1997, which was aimed at redirecting the parliamentary majority at a time deemed favourable.
  • Modalities
Article 12 of the Constitution reserves the President the right to declare dissolution. This authority is exempt from countersigning (Article 19 of the Constitution). The exercise of the right to dissolution is not subordinate to basic conditions. The President is free to chose a motive, which he is not bound to make known. The dissolution may not be declared during the interim period of the Presidency, the exercise of exceptional powers by the President or in the year following a previous dissolution (Articles 7, 16 and 12 of the Constitution). The President may only declare dissolution after consulting the Prime Minister and the presidents of the assemblies. Their opinions are purely consultative (Article 12).

The Assembly may not self-dissolve but is at liberty to bring in an institutional act reducing or prolonging its members' terms of office. However, by reason of its constitutional nature such an act must be automatically brought under the control of the Constitutional Council. Over the past ten years, the National Assembly has only been dissolved once, in 1997, for the reason given above. During the Fifth Republic, the powers of the National Assembly have only been extended once by a law passed on 14 May 2001. The reason given is that presidential elections must, as a general rule, precede parliamentary elections.
Accountability of Government to Parliament Yes The Government is accountable to the parliament under the conditions laid down in the Constitution (Article 49): it may either bring its responsibility before the National Assembly itself or see it implicated with the tabling and voting of a motion of censure by the Assembly. The responsibility of the Government is collective and that of its members may not be invoked individually.
Modalities of oversight
  • Oral and written questions of parliamentarians
The deputies may ask both oral questions (Article 48 of the Constitution) and written questions (Article 139 of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly). The answer to oral questions is immediate, whereas written questions must be answered within one month, once renewable. The Constitution stipulates that at least one sitting a month is reserved for questions and government replies. The Rules and Regulations leave it to the Presidents' conference to organize the oral questions sessions (Article 135); they may if they wish organize them so as to give rise to a debate. Oral questions not followed by a vote are independent of the trust given by the Assembly to the Government. Written questions to which an answer has not been given within the time limit are unconditionally recorded at the start of each weekly issue of the official journal.
  • Government reports to Parliament
Several laws or regulations provisions stipulate that the Government must periodically submit information reports to the office of the parliamentary assemblies. They may be reports on the implementation of certain laws or reports devoted to particular topics.
  • Vote of confidence on Government programs and/or legislative proposals
The Prime Minister, after deliberation by the Council of Ministers, may commit the Government's responsibility before the National Assembly with regard to the passage of a bill. The bill is considered adopted unless a motion of censure, introduced within the subsequent 24 hours, is then carried according to normal procedure. The implementation of this procedure does not affect the normal relay of information between the two chambers. The Prime Minister equally has the option of asking the Senate for the approval of a general policy declaration, but where a negative vote is without consequence on the tenure of office of the Government (Article 49 - line 4).
Motions of censure and votes of no confidence (sub-report)
  • Circumstances
There are no basic conditions for tabling motions of no confidence; their authors are free to choose reasons for wishing to censure the Government. On the other hand, the tabling and carrying of motions of censure is subject to procedural conditions.
  • Modalites
Such a motion is not acceptable unless it is signed by at least a tenth of the members of the Assembly. The same member may not be the signatory of more than three motions of censure during a single ordinary session, and of more than one during a single extraordinary session, except if the motion is tabled in response to making the passing of a bill an issue of responsibility (Article 49.2). Voting may not take place within forty-eight hours of the motion being introduced. A motion of censure may not be adopted unless a majority of the members of the Assembly vote for it, with only the votes in favour of the motion of censure being counted. A Government may not be overturned from then on except by the express will of the majority of the deputies, the absentees as well as the deputies wishing to abstain, being reputed to support the Government.
  • Consequences
When the National Assembly adopts a motion of censure, the Prime Minister must hand in the Government's resignation to the President. A motion of censure has been adopted under the Fifth Republic once, on 4 October 1962. When the Prime Minister had submitted the Government's resignation, the President held him in his post in order to see through the jobs at hand and announced the dissolution of the National Assembly. When the elections drew a favourable majority for the President and the overthrown Prime Minister, the latter was reinstated by the President. From 1991-2002, ten motions of censure were tabled at the initiative of the deputies (five under the 9th legislature, three under the 10th and two under the 6th), and six motions of censure based on Article 49, paragraph 3 of the Constitution (three under the 9th and three under the 10th). These motions of censure were all tabled by opposition groups and none of them was adopted.
Dismissal and/or impeachment of Government and other public officials (sub-report)
  • Circumstances and persons concerned
There is no impeachment procedure (penal procedure) as such for the President or the members of the Government. However, the Constitution institutes procedures coming close to if not guided by it. As regards the President, the Constitution (Article 68) states that he is not liable for acts performed in the exercise of his duties except in the case of high treason and is then tried by the High Court of Justice. As regards members of the Government, the Constitution states that they are generally liable for acts performed in the exercise of their duties classified as serious crimes or other major offences at the time they were committed, and that they are tried by the Court of Justice.
  • Modalites and procedure
The procedure of indictment of the President requires firstly the introduction in one of the two assemblies of a proposal for a resolution, which must be signed by a tenth of the members of that assembly, whose admissibility is assessed by its office. Once it has been declared acceptable, the resolution must be adopted as indicated by the two chambers for referral to the committee of inquiry of the High Court of Justice, made up of five magistrats from the Court of Cassition. On completion of these tasks, the Committee comes to a decision to refer the case to the High Court of Justice itself, which institutes a trial. The decisions of the committee of inquiry and the High Court of Justice are not subject to any recourse (order No 5 - 1 to 2 January 1959).

The Court of Justice consists of fifteen judges: twelve parliamentarians elected from among their ranks and in equal number by the National Assembly and the Senate, and three judges at the Court of Cassation one of whom presides over the Court of Justice. In contrast to the High Court of Justice, the Court of Justice may be called upon at the initiative of any person who claims to have been injured by a serious crime or other major offence committed by a member of the Government in the exercise of their duties, on the condition that a committee of inquiry has referred the charge for the purposes of submission of the case before the Court of Justice.
  • Consequences
The procedure of indictment before the High Court has not been applied to any President. On the other hand, since its creation in 1993, the Court of Justice has rendered judgements concerning four members or former members of the Government.
  • Have these procedures been applied?
Oversight over the actions of the Government administration Yes The civil service is not obliged as such to report to the parliament. But according to Article 20 of the Constitution, the Government has the civil service at its disposal and is responsible before the parliament.
Means and modalities of oversight
  • Hearings in Committees
Civil service representatives, authorised by their ministers, may be heard by special and permanent committees of inquiry, or by parliamentary missions constituted within the latter. On the other hand, as a general rule civil service representatives are never called to intervene in public meetings.
  • Committees of inquiry and missions to Government departments
Committees of inquiry or information missions constituted within commissions may be summoned to assist in the functioning of a government department. The interpellation procedure, if predicted by the regulations (Article 156), is the same as that of a motion of censure, as all requests for interpellation must be matched with the tabling of a motion of censure fulfilling constitutional conditions.
  • Oral and written questions of parliamentarians
Deputies may ask oral questions (Article 48 of the Constitution) as well as written questions (Article 139 of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly). The answer to oral questions is immediate, whereas written questions must be answered within one month, once renewable. Questions and answers are published in a weekly issue of the official journal. Written questions, which have not been answered before the deadline, are unconditionally recorded at the start of each weekly issue of the official journal. The Constitution stipulates that at least one sitting a month should be reserved for questions and the Government's answers. In practice, the first hour of the afternoon session of Tuesday and Wednesday is reserved for questions to the Government, and the Tuesday morning session about every two weeks for oral questions without debate. The rules and regulations leave it to the Presidents' conference to organize oral questions sessions (Article 135). They may thus, if they wish, organize them so as to give rise to a debate.
  • Role of Parliament in the appointment of senior Government officials
In Articles 13 and 21 the Constitution reserves the appointment of state civil and military posts for the executive power alone. High-ranking government officials are appointed to the Council of Ministers. There is no preliminary consultation procedure or parliamentary approval.
  • Activity reports of the Government administration and of public services or establishments
In addition to government reports, other texts are submitted by the Court of Auditors and by each of the independent administrative authorities (e.g. the Superior Council of the Audiovisual, the ombudsman), which are not obliged to present an annual activity report to the parliament. The Bank of France likewise presents a report. The same goes for public institutions (e.g. the National Centre for Space Studies) and for institutions funded using public money such as the France Television cooperation.
  • Representation of Parliament in governing bodies of the Government administration
There are almost 200 extraparliamentary bodies wherein sit one or several deputies appointed by the National Assembly or by its President. The appointment of deputies by the Assembly is comes under Articles 26 and 27 of the Rules of Procedure: more often than not it is referred to the competent permanent committee. An assortment of councils, committees and commissions of varying importance are grouped together under this appellation of extraparliamentary bodies: certain administrative authorities (e.g. the National Committee of Information Technology and Liberties, the Committee of Access to Administrative Documents), numerous administrative advisory authorities, and also bodies that steer public companies like the administrative councils for public sector communications organizations. The deputies who are members of these are not representatives of the Assembly except insofar as they sit in these organizations in order to debrief the Assembly on their activity. To this end, Article 28 of the Rules of Procedure provides that they must submit an annual information report. In practice, this clause is not applied.
Existence of an ombudsman Yes
  • Method for appointing the executive
Laws No 73-6 of 1 January 1973 instituted an Ombudsman of the Republic. He or she is appointed for six years by decree at the Council of Ministers.
  • Relationship to Parliament
The law requires close relations between the ombudsman and the parliament. Only members of the parliament are authorized to make use of the Ombudsman, either by transferring complaints made by a natural or legal person whom he/she considers falls within his/her competence or incites his/her intervention, or of their own initiative. Moreover, at the request of one of the six permanent committees of his/her Assembly, the leader of the Senate or the President of the National Assembly may also transmit any petition submitted to his/her Assembly to the Ombudsman.
Consultation of Parliament in the preparation of the national budget No Strictly speaking, the parliament is not consulted while the budget is being prepared, which is incumbent on the Finance Minister under the arbitrary power of the Prime Minister. In June, a budgetary orientation debate unfolds before each assembly, consisting of a discussion in each chamber not followed up by voting. This is preceded by a hearing of the ministers responsible before the Finance Committee. There are plans to make this debate, which has thus far been customary, obligatory by inscribing it in the basic law that governs finance bills.
Modalities of oversight
  • Examination of the budget / finance act by Parliament
During the examination of the finance bill the parliament is constitutionally called upon firstly to supply the income and then the balance item, making it possible to work out the sum of the deficit and to authorise the use of borrowing. With the balance item, the upper limit for expenditure is then fixed. Then the parliament examines the second part, that is to say the expenses of each Ministry, where the text distinguishes between renewed allocations (services carried) and new measures, between titles (categories of expenditure), and between payment appropriations and programme authorizations, which are multiannual; but only payment appropriations making it possible to effectively incur commitments.

The control enables securing (i) of the genuineness of receipts estimates; (ii) of the pertinence of new fiscal provisions; (iii) the expenditure of each ministry. These will be the object, from 2004 of voting by missions and by programme, in such a way as makes it possible to assign quantified objectives to government departments according to the means they have at their disposal; and the ceilings of public posts for each ministry.
  • Reports on the budget / finance act by Committees
The committee appoints a general rapporteur for the receipts and balance who, in principle, is appointed for the whole parliament. It also appoints as many special rapporteurs as it likes for expenses either of a ministry, or of a part of the expenses of a ministry. The Finance Committee of the Assembly appoints 44 special rapporteurs every year (it has 73 members). So a portion of these rapporteurs comes from the opposition. In June, these rapporteurs send questionnaires to ministers presenting the budget they are responsible for at the committee, then at the session. They have at their disposal the power to control the expenses on the basis of documents and on the spot.
Fields overseen
  • Defence budget
There is no specific control for defence appropriations or posts. The Finance Committee appoints a special rapporteur and the National Defence Committee appoints nine advisory rapporteurs. The defence appropriations filed for budget proposals are examined thoroughly by the Finance Committee and for consultation by the Defence Committee. The Defence Committee's budgetary recommendations on the initial finance bill are established on the basis of replies to the detailed questionnaires addressed each year to the Defence Minister. Budgetary posts are exclusively authorized in the finance bill.
  • Budget of special departments
The parliament exercises control over all public funds.
  • Role of Parliament in national development plans
Not available
Parliament's deadline for the examination and adoption of the budget / finance act Constitutionally, the deadline is 70 days (Article 47). In practice, the bill is passed, with the majority of annexes, two or three weeks before the beginning of this deadline. The National Assembly has right of priority, and 40 days, to examine the budget. The Senate has a maximum of 20 days. The 10 days remaining are for bringing the positions together.
Consequences of failure by Parliament to adopt the budget / finance act If a disagreement prevails, the National Assembly has the final word. In cases where the deadlines have expired, the bill may be brought into force by ordinance (Article 47 of the Constitution)
Budgetary autonomy of Parliament Yes The parliament enjoys absolute budgetary autonomy: its credits are authorised at the level of applications prepared by a regrouping committee, under the Presidency of a President of the Chamber of the Court of Auditors and the auditors of the two assemblies. They are voted without discussion and may not be challenged by the Government. The implementation is confined to three parliamentary administrators in each Assembly, elected by their colleagues, under the authority of the office of each assembly (presided by the chairman) and controlled by a special committee of 15 members.
Evaluation of Government spending
Parliament approves Government expenditures annually Yes The regulation bill is approved on viewing the Court of Auditors' report.
Parliamentary oversight of public companies Yes There is a special rapporteur for public enterprises.
Modalities of oversight
  • Body for auditing the Government's books and method for appointing
Since 1807, the Court of Auditors has been the parliamentary auxiliary for public accounts control (Article 47 of the Constitution). It is an autonomous organization, which is both juridical and advisory and composed of functionaries appointed by the Government. The members of the Court are independent magistrates.
  • Reports of the public auditor's office
There is an annual public report. There are several other reports on the spending of such and such sectors (motorways, veterans). The Court addresses questions to the ministers, either in jurisdictional form (summary judgement) or not. The Court sends these reports - audit reports of ministries or public enterprises - or refers them to the parliament. Some of these reports are confidential and are therefore confined to the Secretariat of the President of the Finance Committee. It examines them and works out audit methods in performing the work of the Court, notably for audit missions set up by the Committee. The special rapporteurs centre their study methods on carrying out this same work.
  • Specialised committee
During budget voting, the parliament gives its opinion on very detailed annexes by category or by the nature of the expenses (chapter). Spending is monitored on a month-by-month basis via a database. Some of the appropriations movements are published in the official journal. There is no special committee, but all the permanent committees conduct permanent control, in particular the special rapporteurs of the Finance Committee.
Foreign Relations Committee (sub-report)
  • Functions of the Committee
Foreign policy oversight is carried out by the Foreign Affairs Committee and mainly in open session.
  • Powers of the Committee
At the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Minister for Foreign Affairs is heard in a long hearing approximately once every five or six weeks. In addition, the Committee hears the ministers responsible for European affairs, cooperation and foreign trade.
  • Composition of the Committee
The composition of the Committee reflects the strength of numbers of each party in the parliament. The maximum workforce of the Foreign Affairs Committee is an eighth of the workforce of the members that make up the Assembly.
  • Bilateral visits of Parliament, inter-parliamentary conferences and information missions abroad
The Assembly, like the Foreign Affairs Committee, conducts foreign missions to inform itself of the situation and as such to enable tighter control. This takes place equally in bilateral and multilateral frameworks, at the invitation of the foreign parliaments or at the initiative of the Assembly or of the Committee.
  • Plenary debates on foreign policy issues
This may occur at the time of one of the foreign policy debates or one of the budget debates. On the other hand, it is very often the case that current affairs questions are addressed to the Government with regard to foreign policy: these questions take place twice a week and it is rare that a week passes without the Government replying to such a question.
Involvement of Parliament
  • Participation of Parliament in inter-governmental meetings
The participation of parliamentarians in inter-governmental meetings takes place regularly at the Government's initiative. There have always been, for example, parliamentarians within the French delegation at the United Nations General Assembly; they were present at the WTO conferences and they have a presence on important journeys made by the President, the Prime Minister or the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  • Modalities and procedures for ratifying international treaties and agreements (sub-report)
The Constitution (Article 53) specifies the list of treaties whose ratification is subject to the preliminary authorization of the parliament. A treaty that has not been regularly ratified is not opposable to citizens, so the French Council of State has decided. Generally speaking, all important treaties and indeed many that are less so must be submitted to the parliament. The deadline for examining the content of a treaty varies; it ranges from three to eight weeks on average.
  • Other mechanisms for participation in foreign policy by Parliament
In addition to the points mentioned above, it should be added that the inter-parliamentary cooperation of the Assembly is geared mainly towards French-speaking countries and young democracies emerging from the former Soviet Union or from former Yugoslavia. This cooperation assumes many varied forms, ranging from the organization of training for foreign parliamentarians close to French deputies, to the participation of French parliamentary functionaries in juries for competitive recruitment in foreign parliaments. The principle is to respond to the demand made. It means not just supplying personnel aides, but also material ones (information or other). It becomes evident that this inter-parliamentary cooperation may reveal a multilateral as well as a bilateral character: as such in the framework of the TACIS Programme of the European Union, where the French National Assembly and the German Bundestag are associates of one another so as to foster cooperation with Russia and certain countries in the Caucasus.
National Defence Committee (sub-report)
  • Functions of the Committee
The National Defence and Armed Forces Commission is one of six National Assembly permanent committees. The Defence Committee's domain of competence is defined by Article 36 of the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly.
  • Powers of the Committee
The long-term plans of the armed forces are the object of provisional physical and financial multiannual programming (from 5 to 6 years) taking the form of a military programming bill examined in detail by the Defence Committee and for consultation by the Finance Committee. In addition, the Defence Committee charges one or several of its members of information missions with writing reports on questions that it considers merit in-depth study. It hears all individuals whom it considers a hearing of to be necessary, either for the preparation of reports or opinions, or for its information work (mainly comprising ministers for defence and foreign affairs, staff chiefs and the general delegate for weaponry). These hearings normally take place in camera but become the object of an account that is published at the end of the meeting.
  • Composition of the Committee
The composition of the Committee reflects the strength of numbers of each party in the parliament. The maximum workforce of the Foreign Affairs Committee is an eighth of the workforce that makes up the members of the Assembly
Parliamentary oversight of public arms manufacturing companies The oversight of the situation and organization of public and semi-public arms manufacturing companies is guaranteed by the Defence Committee as well as by the Finance Committee. These committees may write information reports on this subject. Furthermore, the Defence Committee hands out a recommendation on the budgetary accounts (special accounts of the treasury), which recalls certain industrial state activities in the domain of arms. This recommendation is examined within the framework of a debate on the annual finance bill. It applies in particular to the account retracing naval military construction operations, which are actually free from the State. It applies equally to the account recounting, in receipts, the handover of State participation in public sector companies, and, in expenses, the state capital endowments in these companies. In addition, two deputies and one Senator sit on the Board of Cost Prices of Arms Manufacturing, an organization responsible for examining the cost prices of arms manufactured by public and private enterprises participating in the implementation of the state arms orders.
Circumstances and involvement
  • Modalities and procedures in case of war, an armed attack or a state of emergency
Article 35 of the Constitution provides that the declaration of war is authorized by the parliament. The extension of a state of siege beyond twelve days may not be authorized except by the parliament. A state of siege allows for the relinquishment of the civil authorities to the benefit of the military authorities in the event of imminent danger resulting from a foreign war or an armed insurgence. It authorizes restrictions on the exercise of public freedoms. A state of emergency, which has similar effects with regard to public freedoms, is conversely a civil scheme.
  • Role of Parliament in sending troops abroad
The Constitution does not provide for the consultation or authorization of the parliament in the event of troupes being sent abroad. In practice, the engagement of military operations on a large scale constitutes a major political act for which the Government is naturally driven to seek the support of the parliament. However, on a juridical level, the proceedings of ordinary law for controlling and implicating government responsibility apply. The debate on the end-of-year amending finance bill offers in addition to the defence and finance committees and to the assembly in open session an opportunity to express its views on the deployment of forces overseas from national territory. In effect, for the most part the appropriations earmarked for these deployments are not inscribed in the initial finance bill but in the amending finance bill.
  • Other mechanisms for participation in national defence policy by Parliament
The parliament does not participate in the steering of national defence policy, which falls within the competency of the executive. On the other hand, the parliament fixes the legislative framework of this policy. It adopts defence appropriation. It controls the Government's steering of defence policy. This control takes effect in the conditions of common law (oral and written questions etc.). It depends mainly on the information services of the Defence Committee and the Finance Committee. The latter appoints a special rapporteur for military appropriations who has power of inquiry on the basis of documents and on the spot. This special rapporteur establishes, notably on the basis of these inquiries, information reports on questions that he/she considers worthy of in-depth study. Information reports whose publication is authorised by the Defence Committee or the Finance Committee significantly influence the defence policy.
Circumstances A law of 3 April 1955 and an order of 15 April 1960 authorize the Council of Ministers to proclaim a state of emergency stricto sensu in the event of imminent danger resulting from serious breaches of public order or from an event presenting itself as a public disaster. Moreover, the Constitution reserves the Council of Ministers the right to declare a state of siege (Article 36), and the President, after the official consultation of the Prime Minister, the Presidents of the assemblies and the Constitutional Council, the power to adopt measures that the circumstances require when the institutions of the Republic, the independence of the nation, the integrity of its territory or the implementation of its international commitments are threatened in a grave and immediate manner, and the regular functioning of the public constitutional authorities is interrupted (Article 16).
Can parliament take the initiative to declare a state of emergency No
Consequences of a state of emergency for Parliament The parliament does not play a particular role in connection with declaring, appropriating or repealing a state of emergency or a state of siege. On the other hand, only the parliament may authorize their extension. Besides the consultation of their chairmen, the two assemblies are equally absent from the procedure of implementing the exceptional powers of the President. The parliament may continue to legislate and implicate government responsibility at the time of a state of emergency or of a state of siege. During the implementation of the exceptional powers of the President, the parliament meets by rights but the question of the exercise of its legislative competence and control remain disputed.
Modalities of oversight
  • Body ruling on the constitutionality of laws
State Court The ruling of the constitutionality of laws is confined to the Constitutional Council, made up of nine members and appointed for nine years by the President, the Chairman of the Senate and the Chairman of the National Assembly, who nominate three each. The former Presidents of the Republic are ex officio life members of the Constitutional Council (Article 56 of the Constitution).
  • Means and procedures
Institutional acts must be referred to the Constitutional Council, which rules on their conformity with the Constitution. The other acts may be referred to it, to the same end, by the President, the Prime Minster, the chairmen of the two assemblies and 60 deputies or senators (Article 61 of the Constitution). A referral to the Council must take place after voting on the act and before its promulgation. The Constitutional Council has one month in which to make his or her decision, which may be reduced to eight days if the matter is urgent. In practice, referrals are more generally intended for implicating the constitutionality of specific clauses of the law. But the law as a whole is judicially referred to the Constitutional Council, which raises with the office the unconstitutionality of uncontested provisions.

A provision declared unconstitutional may not be promulgated (Article 62 of the Constitution). If the Constitutional Council considers that it is detachable from the rest of the law, the promulgated law is removed from the provision in question. In the opposite case, the law in its entirety may not be the subject of a promulgation (order No 58-1067 of 7 November 1958). The decisions of the Constitutional Council are not liable to any appeal.
Evaluation of laws Yes The permanent committees follow the implementation and application of the law within their field of respective competencies. Moreover, a 1996 bill established a joint parliamentary office for the evaluation and legislation of the two assemblies that was composed of deputies and senators. The office is responsible for gathering information and carrying out studies to evaluate the adequacy of the legislation in the situations it governs without prejudicing the competencies of the permanent committees. It may also conduct inquiries into the administration services responsible for implementing the legislation studied, the professions which it applies itself to or the public concerned.

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