An important election will take place in France on Sunday September 24, although it will probably not receive much media coverage.

The French Senate, the upper house of the French Parliament, will renew half (170) of its 348 seats on Sunday.

However, the general public will not participate in the voting process.

What are “indirect” elections?

Senators are elected “indirectly,” meaning the general public does not choose candidates or parties, as they would in a direct voting system. Instead, they elect the people who will vote.

In France, the vote of senators belongs to the power of the country. major voters (electoral college), which brings together around 162,000 elected officials – including regional elected officials, departmental councilors, mayors, municipal councilors of large municipalities and deputies in the National Assembly.

People selected for the electoral college are required to vote, under penalty of a fine of 100 euros. How they vote is entirely up to them (although they naturally tend to vote along party lines).

Municipal and departmental councilors made up the majority of delegates (95%). major voters from 2023.

The size of the municipality determines the number of delegates who represent it: thus for a municipality of less than 9,000 inhabitants with a municipal council of only seven to 11 members, there would be one delegate (member of the electoral college). On the other hand, a municipality with between 9,000 and 30,000 inhabitants would have all of its municipal councilors (who could have between 29 and 35 members) serving as delegates to the electoral college.

How does voting work?

There are two distinct voting methods for electing French senators, and which one will be chosen depends on the number of seats to be filled in that department. In departments with one or two senators to be elected, the first-past-the-post system is used, meaning that voters in the electoral college can choose a single candidate and the one with the most votes wins.

In departments with three or more senators to be elected, proportional lists are used.

In comparison, the lower house of Parliament, the National Assembly, is directly elected. The 577 deputies serve a five-year mandate (subject to dissolution).

The different voting methods between the two chambers aim “to guarantee that all the various components of French society are represented in the most equitable manner possible”.

The theory being that if your region votes strongly in favor of the center-left Socialist Party, then the elected delegates are PS, and they will in turn choose PS senators – so that the region’s overall views are represented in the Senate.

Senate mandates

Senators are elected for a six-year term and can run as many times as they wish. Many senators have been in office for a long time – for example, the current president of the French Senate, Gérald Larcher, was first elected in 1986.

In the 2020 elections, of the 172 renewable seats up for election, 94 were incumbents and 78 were newly elected.

How often are they elected?

Senate elections are held every three years and half of the seats are allocated each time. Next September, the 170 seats in “series 1” will be voted on.

You can see where the series 1 (darker orange) elections should take place on the map below.

Each department is represented by a different number of senators, proportional to the number of voters residing there: the city of Paris thus has 12 senators, the department of North 11 and the sparsely populated department of Lozère only one.

Credit: Senate.Fr

Who are the French senators?

The average age of senators at the start of their mandate, according to official figures, is 60 years and two months (the minimum age to run is 24).

In total, 67 percent (232 senators) are men, 315 of the 348 civil servants representing mainland France. The other 33 represent French overseas territories and departments and French citizens residing abroad.

The composition of delegates tends to over-represent rural areas, meaning that, overall, the Senate leans toward the center-right of the French political spectrum.

It is usual for the Senate to have a different political composition from that of the National Assembly and it has had a left-wing majority only once since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958 – for the three-year period from from 2011 to 2014.

The center-right Les Républicains party currently holds 145 seats, the Socialist Party 64 seats and the “centrist union group” (a centrist alliance) 57 seats.

According to Franceinfo, the Les Républicains party would be the favorite to win the most seats in the September 24 election. Le Figaro writes that the Republicans will obtain 65 seats in the election and that they hope to keep at least 60.

What does the Senate do?

The role of the Senate is to examine bills submitted by the government in place or by the Assembly. He also watches over the government to ensure that all laws enacted are properly enforced. Senators can – and do – introduce bills (Law proposition), but it is the Assembly which is the real engine of government.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How does the French Senate work?

The reason why senatorial elections receive little publicity is that the power of the Senate is limited: in cases where the National Assembly and the Senate vote differently, it is ultimately the National Assembly that has the last word.

The Senate, however, plays a particularly crucial role: the President of the Senate would assume the interim presidency of the Republic in the event of a vacancy, incapacity (or death) or resignation of the President. This happened twice during the Fifth Republic – both times with the same person. Senate President Alain Poher briefly served as interim president following the mid-term resignation of Charles de Gaulle and the death in office of Georges Pompidou.

The President of the Senate also has the right to appoint three of the nine members of the Constitutional Council for nine years.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is the French Constitutional Council and how does it work?

In terms of remuneration, a French senator earns (monthly) €7,493.30, which is made up of a “basic parliamentary allowance” of €5,820.04, a “function” allowance (for other related expenses employment) of €1,498.66 and a residence allowance. allowance of €174.60.


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Source : metroindia