France, officially the French Republic (French: République française), is a state in Western Europe with several overseas colonies, territories and islands located in Africa, Asia and America and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. The territories outside Metropolitan France are part of the French Union.
European Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered (clockwise starting from the northeast) by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Monaco; with Spain and Andorra to the south. It also include Overseas Departments of Algeria, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
France is linked to the United Kingdom by the Channel Tunnel, which passes underneath the English Channel.
In March 1935, the social republican government, headed by François de La Rocque, wins its proposal to reform the constitution by the referendum (58% for the Yes). In the October 1935 elections for President and National Assembly, the social republicans win the presidency and the majority of seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
Between 1870 and 1935 France was organized in the III Republic. According to the constitutional laws of 1871, 1873, 1875 and 1884 France was a parliamentary republic. The Head of State was the President of Republic, elected by the National Assembly for a mandate of seven years. He names the President of the Council of Ministers, that acted has the Head of Government. The legislative power was in hands of the National Assembly, a bicameral body that consisted of a Senate (with a mandate of 9 years, elected by an electoral college in thirds every three years) and Chamber of Deputies (elected for a mandate of 4 years or less if dissolved for new elections). In 1935 all French men and women over 21 years can vote in all elections and referendums.
In 1935 a new Constitution came in force, approved by referendum. It defines France as a 'indivisible, secular, democratic, and social Republic' This Constitution also establishes the IV Republic. Its main characteristics is that it changes political system to a semi-presidential republic.
- The Head of State is the President of the Republic, directly elected for a mandate of 6 years in a two-round ballot. See that the Constitution is observed. Ensures, by his arbitration, the proper functioning of the public authorities and the continuity of the State. Is the guarantor of national independence, territorial integrity and observance of treaties. He is in charge of the national defense and foreign affairs, and is President of the French Union. Can dissolve the National Assembly, refer treaties or certain types of laws to popular referendum. Is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, with the assistance of the Minister of National Defense. Presides the Council of Ministers and names the President of the Council but he cannot dismiss him (only the National Assembly, by a non confidence vote can remove him);
- The President of the Council of Ministers (shortened to President of the Council) is the head of government and of the Council of Ministers of France. The President of the Council proposes the list of other ministers to the president. The Council of Ministers is responsible to the National Assembly. Neither the President of the Republic nor the Council of Ministers may rule by decree (decret-lois), outside of the narrow case of presidential emergency powers;
- The French Parliament, composed of the Senate and National Assembly, is the supreme legislative and constituent power of the State. Congress of the French Parliament is the name given to the body created when both houses of the French Parliament meet to vote on revisions to the Constitution or to listen to an address by the President of the French Republic. The Senate has 150 senators, each elected to a 9-year term. Senators are elected in thirds every three years, by an electoral college. The National Assembly consists of 300 members known as députés (deputies), directly elected. The term of the National Assembly is five years; however, the President of the Republic may dissolve the Assembly (thereby calling for new elections) unless he has dissolved it in the preceding twelve months;
- The judicature is organized in the Court of Cassation (supreme court over civil and criminal courts), the Council of State (supreme court over administrative courts) and the Constitutional Council (constitutionally of laws and supervision of parliamentary and presidential elections and referendums);
- The National Economic Council (Conseil économique national), integrated by representatives of the workers, employers and state, is an advisory body on economic, employment and social affairs. Its consultation is mandatory or optional in all social and economic matters discussed by the National Assembly. It issues an annual report on the economic and social conditions of France.
France has a highly competitive multi-party system, and the political spectrum follows a left–right distinction.
However the main political party of the IV Republic is the Parti social républicain (PSR, Social Republican Party). The PSR is a center-right mass party. Its main slogans are 'Travail, Famille, Patrie' and 'social d'abord'. Unlike traditional right-wing parties the PSR has an extensive membership among the middle and lower classes and mobilizes, recruits and promotes members and followers through a variety of associated organizations (sporting societies, mutual help, labor organizations, youth organizations, and leisure and vacation camps). It is anti-parliamentarian, but respecting and promoting the republican legality. Advocates a presidential regime to end the instability of the parliamentary regime. An economic system founded on the association of capital and labor (corporatism). Along economic dirigisme and volontarisme (namely the defense of spatial planning, economic planning, and Keynesianism). Is in favor of a social legislation inspired by Catholic social teachings. Also promotes a strong national defense, closer links with overseas territories and cultural promotion (Francophonie). The PSR advocates women's suffrage Female militants are heavily involved in grassroots activities at the neighborhood level.
Other relevant parties are:
- The Radicals (Radicaux) or Radical-Socialists parliamentary group , organized in 1901 as Republican, Radical and Radical-Socialist Party (Parti républicain, radical et radical-socialiste), it is the oldest active political party in France. The radicals were the main party of the III Republic. Although in its majority a center-left party, it has an important center-right section.
- Alliance démocratique, or Alliance républicaine démocratique (ARD, Democratic Republican Alliance) center-right
- the Fédération républicaine (FR, Republican Federation) conservative
- the socialists, Section française de l’Internationale ouvrière (SFIO)
- the communists (PCF, Parti communiste français)
- the Republicans of the Centre (Républicains du centre, RDC) a parliamentary group composed of the 4 political parties: a) Parti démocrate populaire (PDP, Popular Democratic Party) a non-confessional Christian democratic party. Founded in 1924, it represents the trend of advanced French social Catholicism, while remaining a party embodying the ideology of centrism. b) Action Libérale Populaire (APL, People's Liberal Action Action) political party during that represents Catholic supporters of the Republic. c) Alsatian Popular Republican Union and its Lorrain counterpart, the Lorrain Republican Union.
France is divided in regions (Metropolitan and Overseas), departments (Metropolitan and Overseas), arrondissements, cantons and communes. The basic unit of local government is the commune that is administered by an elected Mayor (maire) and Municipal Council.
By the Constitution of 1935 France is a unitary and decentralized state. The regions are territorial collectives that do not have legislative autonomy, tough they have limited administrative and statutory powers. Each region has an elected Regional Council and a Regional Prefect (Préfet de région) named by the President of the French Republic
For more details see Administrative division of France
Culture and Communications
Broadcasting in France and French Union is a state and private service. The state broadcasting services for the metropolitan and overseas regions are provided by "Radiodiffusion Française" (RDF) and "Radio-Paris". For the French Union the "Radiodiffusion de la France Outre-Mer" (RFOM), by means of local stations, provides services. Shortwave services are done by "Paris Mondial" (former "Poste colonial").
French Armed Forces
According to the Constitution of 1935, The President of the Republic as guarantor of national independence and territorial integrity is in charge of the national defense. He heads the armed forces, with the title "chef des armées" ("chief of the military forces"). The President is the supreme authority for military matters. However, the Constitution puts civil and military government forces at the disposal of the government. The Minister of National Defence oversees the military's funding, procurement and operations.
The French Armed Forces, since 1926, encompasses the following services:
- French Army (Armée de Terre),
- French Navy (the Marine nationale),
- French Air Force (Armée de l'Air) and
- Forces d'outre-mer françaises (former Troupes Coloniales) divided in Troupes de marine (army) and Service aéronautique d'outre-mer (air force).
- Gendarmerie Nationale, deployed only in Metropolitan France and DOM)
- Gendarmerie de d'outre-mer, deployed only in overseas territories, and
- the French Foreign Legion (Légion étrangère).
The Forces d'outre-mer françaises and Gendarmerie de d'outre-mer operate only in the territories of the French Union.