semi-presidentialism

  • The Convergence of Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in France: Analysis of Systemic Tendencies from the Perspective of Sixty Years of the Fifth Republic

    The paper deals with specific links between presidential and parliamentary elections in contemporary France. The main goal is to demonstrate that the timing of the two types of political events is a significant factor preserving the configuration of a pro-presidential majority fact as one of the possible variants of French semi-presidentialism. This raises the question of the role of both elections as instruments for controlling the process of setting up a space of political rivalry that could be perceived as optimal from the viewpoint of ruling camps. The author analyses possibilities to provide the convergence of presidential and parliamentary elections under the conditions of a seven-year presidential term as well as after its shortening to five years in 2000. Hence, of particular importance is the impact of some mechanisms used in this field on the institutional logic of the French political system. Specific application of constitutional tools and some normative changes introduced in previous years cause the extent of the aforementioned control to be now much greater than in the first decades of the Fifth Republic. Looking at the convergence of both types of elections from the perspective of the evolution of the existing political system, the author argues that it is legitimate to divide the whole period of the Fifth Republic into three sub-periods: 1. the absence of electoral convergence (1958–1981); 2. partial electoral convergence (1981– –2002); full electoral convergence (since 2002). Due to the acceptance of the pro-presidential paradigm, the latter formula is now definitely preferred and supported by legal regulations, which affects the flexibility of French semi-presidentialism (significantly reduced, but not fully eliminated, probability of cohabitation).

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