The French Government

first_imgThe French presidential elections last week grabbed world attention primarily because it was seen as a sign of how extensive the move towards “populism” – read “right wing” sentiment –was in Europe, after the Brexit vote in Britain and the election of Donald Trump in the US. Now that Emmanuel Macron’s one-year-old En Marche! Party has defeated Marine Le Pen of the National Front (FN), the analysts will be generally consumed by the implications for EU unity and the terms of Britain’s exit as well as the facticity of Le Pen securing one-third of the French electorate’s support. The issues of immigration and European “identity” will not go away.But for Guyanese, there is another element in the French elections that should be of interest – the structure of their government. Launched in 1958 by their towering – literally and figuratively – – President Charles de Gaulle, it has been defined as a “semi-presidential” system, in which there is a President in addition to a Prime Minister and a Cabinet, but with the former elected separately. This is a classification under which our system of governance also falls, but with some noteworthy differences.Our system is rather unique, but is most like the “President-Parliamentary” system where the President appoints the Prime Minister and the Cabinet and the latter two can be removed at will by the former. Our President secures his post when his party obtains a majority or plurality – at the polls. France, on the other hand, has the “Premier-Presidential system” in which the Prime Minister and Cabinet are exclusively accountable to Parliament. The President, who is elected in a separate election as in the one just won by Macron, chooses the Prime Minister and Cabinet, but only the Parliament may remove them from office with a vote of no confidence. The President does not have the right to dismiss the Prime Minister or the Cabinet.In the Premier-Presidential system, which is in place in several other countries, such as Sri Lanka and Finland, when the President and his Prime Minister and Cabinet are from the same party, the system in effect works very similar to the President-Parliamentary system like ours. The President allocates as much power as he feels comfortable with to the Prime Minister.However, if the President’s party does not have a majority in Parliament and the Prime Minister is from another party – as occurred in France in the 1980s, a system of “cohabitation” falls into place. The President is now possessed of specific defined state powers and the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament, is in charge of the other functions of Government. During “cohabitation” in France, by convention, the President is in charge of foreign affairs and defence policy. IN Finland, their Constitution explicitly allocates Foreign Policy to their President.For many analysts, when the Cummingsburg Accord was negotiated between the AFC and APNU before the elections, it was assumed that the AFC-origin Prime Minister by being allowed to “chair” Cabinet and be responsible for domestic affairs would in effect function as in the French Premier-Presidential system. The subsequent “explanation” by President David Granger that this agreement could not be implemented, because there was “no constitutional stipulation” flies in the face of the French experience, that works very well by convention. In Guyana, before the 1992 elections, Dr Cheddi Jagan had suggested that the French semi-presidential model might be suitable for Guyana with its divided polity and the need for a sharing of powers between the major parties.In the coming months, elections for representatives to the French Parliament will be contested by all parties including the Socialists and the Republicans, which were the major parties before Macron launched his En Marche!! It is very likely that the Prime Minister might come from one of those parties and the “balance of powers” under the “cohabitation” doctrine will be tested. Guyana should follow closely.last_img

Author: admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *