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Executive power:. French Presidents and British Prime Ministers. January 21 Paradise Now 2005 Best Golden Globe Foreign Language Film February 4 The Russian Ark / Russkiy kovcheg 2002 Vision Award Toronto International Film Festival February 18 Tsotsi 2005 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

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executive power

Executive power:

French Presidents and British Prime Ministers

global film series monday evenings 7 00 p m hampton hall marine institute
January 21Paradise Now2005 Best Golden Globe Foreign Language Film

February 4The Russian Ark/ Russkiy kovcheg2002 Vision Award Toronto International Film Festival

February 18Tsotsi2005 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar

March 3The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen)2006 Best For Film Oscar

March 24Red Road2006 Cannes Jury Prize

April 7The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions barbares,)2003 Best For Film Oscar

Global Film SeriesMonday evenings, 7:00 p.mHampton Hall, Marine Institute
comparing french presidents and british prime ministers
Comparing French Presidents and British Prime Ministers

British prime ministers and their bases of power

  • Commanding & retaining a parliamentary majority
    • But what does it take to do this?
  • Use of ‘central agencies:’
    • Downing Street
    • Cabinet Secretariat
    • The Treasury (via the Chancellor of the Exchequer)
french presidents
French Presidents
  • Directly elected for 5 year term (7 years through 2002)
  • Governs through premier & cabinet -- who serve with the confidence of the National Assembly
  • Special powers under 5th R Constitution:
    • Reserved domain in foreign affairs
    • Ability to send messages to parliament
french premiers
French Premiers
  • Enjoys battery of powers under 5th R constitution
    • Control of the assembly agenda and texts of bills goin
    • Can ask for ‘package’ vote
    • Can ask for limited or broader emergency powers
    • Can declare any motion a matter of confidence
    • Measures pass unless National Assembly files and approves a motion of censure
  • Hired and fired by President
  • But must resign if National Assembly censures
voting censure
Voting censure
  • Strict provisions for motion of censure
  • Petition must be signed by 10% of members
  • Must be approved by an absolute majority (50% +1 of entire National Assembly)
  • Only votes for censure are counted
british counterpart
British counterpart:
  • Prime Minister’s problem: to keep party together
  • Different strategies
    • Find & maintain consensus: listen to & include diverse streams of opinion in cabinet
    • Damn the torpedoes: full speed ahead
    • Rely on rewards and punishments
    • But what are they?
      • Cabinet office
      • ‘removal of the whip’
5 th republic in practice
5th Republic in practice
  • De Gaulle as first president
  • Larger than life presidency:
    • Use of referenda
    • Initial concentration on foreign affairs
    • Assertion of presidential power
      • Extra-constitutional amendment of the constitution in 1962 (for direct election of president
      • President hires and fires premier
presidential elections
Presidential elections

President is elected in a two ballot or runoff system:

  • To be elected on the first ballot, a candidate must win an absolute majority (50%+1) of the vote cast
  • If no candidate wins on the first ballot, a second ballot is held 2 weeks later:
    • Lower candidates are dropped
    • Candidate with the most votes wins
elections to the national assembly
Elections to the National Assembly
  • Deputies are elected in single member districts on a two ballot or runoff system
    • In order to be elected on the first ballot, a candidate must win an
    • If no candidate has an absolute majority, then a second runoff ballot is held one week later
      • Candidates winning less than 12.5 % (1/8) are dropped
      • Candidate with the most votes – a plurality – wins
the left
The left
  • Currently 3-4 parties:
    • Communists (PCF)
    • Socialists (PS)
    • Greens/Ecologists
    • Some radicals
the right
The right:
  • Gaulllists
    • Currently organized as UMP – Union for a Popular Majority
    • previously RPR,Rally for the Republic
    • Typically nationalistic, statist; less so now
  • Union of Democrats for France (UDF, liberal)
  • National Front (FN)

extreme right, led by Jean Marie Le Pen

election results

balance among president premier and national assembly
Presidential mode:

Parties supporting President have a majority in the National Assembly

President appoints and may remove the Premier

Premier implements president’s program

Parliamentary mode

Parties opposing president have a majority in the National Assembly

National Assembly can censure premier if it chooses

Outcome: either

Stalemate and/or parliamentary elections OR

Cohabitation – power-sharing

Balance among President, Premier and National Assembly:
presidential dominance
Presidential dominance:
  • Parties supporting the President have a majority in the National Assembly
  • President appoints a premier of his choice
  • Premier carries out the President’s program, securing the passage of legislation as need
  • National Assembly and Senate comply.
    • Premier may make legislation a matter of confidence
    • If he does so, the legislation passes unless
      • 10% of deputies file a motion of censure
      • The motion is passed by an absolute majority (50% +1) of the entire National Assembly
parliamentary mode
Parliamentary mode:
  • Parties opposing the president have a majority in the National Assembly
  • President may appoint premier of his choice, but National Assembly can censure
    • If premier (and cabinet) are censured, they must resign
    • President may then
      • Dissolve the National Assembly and call for new elections (but only once per 12 month period)
      • Appoint a premier acceptable to the National Assembly majority, resulting in cohabitation or power-sharing
french presidents1
French Presidents:
  • 1958-1981, Presidents and parliaments from the right
    • De Gaulle (1958-1969)
    • Pompidou (1969-1973)
    • Giscard de Estaing (1974-1981)
  • 1981-1995: Francois Mitterrand (PS)
  • 1995-2007: Jacques Chirac (RPR, UMP)
  • 2007-present: Nicolas Sarkozy (UMP
incidence of cohabitation
Incidence of cohabitation
  • 1986-88 (Mitterand presidency)
    • Right wins 1986 National Assembly elections
    • Mitterand appoints Chirac as Premier
  • 1993-95 (Mitterand presidency)
    • Right wins National Assembly
    • Mitterand appoints Balladur as Premier
  • 1997-2002 (Chirac presidency)
    • Chirac dissolves National Assembly
    • Left majority
    • Chirac appoints Socialist, Lionel Jospin as Premier
the fifth republic in practice
The Fifth Republic in practice
  • Constitution provides political stability, governments which can govern
  • Regime is semi-presidential:
    • Can be dominated by strong presidents if they command a majority in the National Assembly
    • However, president’s ability to lead or dominate weakens if opposition parties have a majority:
    • If so, results in cohabitation – a form of power-sharing
british prime ministers

Winston Churchill

Harold MacMillan

Harold Wilson

Margaret Thatcher

Tony Blair

Not as strong:

Anthony Eden

Edward Heath

Harold Wilson

John Major

Gordon Brown?

British prime ministers