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At a glance

Structure of Parliament: Bicameral

Are there legislated quotas...

  • Yes for the Single/Lower House?
  • Yes for the Upper House?
  • Yes at the Sub-national level?

Are there voluntary quotas...

  • Yes adopted by political parties?

Is there additional information?

Yes

France

(French Republic)

Single/Lower house

Assemblée nationale / National Assembly

Total seats:577
Total women:155
% women: 27%
Election year:2012
Electoral system:TRS
Quota type: Legislated Candidate Quotas
Election details: IDEA Voter Turnout
IPU Parline
Legal sourceDetails
Quota type:
Legislated Candidate Quotas
ConstitutionThe Constitution stipulates that the law shall promote equal access of women and men to electoral mandates and elected offices, as well as professional and social responsibilities (Article 1 (2) of the Constitution). Furthermore, the Constitution recognizes the responsibility of political parties in upholding and promoting this principle (Constitution, Articles 3 and 4).
Electoral law Members of the National Assembly are elected in 577 single-member constituencies, according to a two-round majoritarian system. The difference between the number of candidates of each sex that a party or group of parties present for single-member constituency elections can not be greater than 2% (Law No. 88-227, Article 9 (1)).
Legal sanctions for non-compliance: Electoral law Non-compliance with 50% parity rule (only 2% difference allowed between the number of female and male candidates) will result in a financial penalty calculated in the following way: the public funding provided to parties based on the number of votes they receive in the first round of elections will be decreased ‘by a percentage equivalent to three quarters of the difference between the total number of candidates of each sex, out of the total number of candidates’. (Article 9-1). For example, if only 40% of female candidates are presented, the difference between the number of female and male candidates presented is 20 points. Accordingly, the fine will amount to a 15% cut.
Rank order/placement rules: Electoral law None

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Last updated 2015-05-11

Upper house

Sénat / Senate

Total seats: 348
Total women:87
% women: 25%
Election year:2014
Electoral system:Indirectly elected
Quota type: Legislated Candidate Quotas
Election details: IPU Parline
Legal sourceDetails
Quota type:
Legislated Candidate Quotas
Constitution The Constitution stipulates that the law shall promote equal access of women and men to electoral mandates and elected offices, as well as professional and social responsibilities (Article 1 (2)). Furthermore, the Constitution recognizes the responsibility of political parties in upholding and promoting this principle (Articles 3 and 4).
Electoral law In districts electing at least 2 senators, a two-round majoritarian system is applicable. In districts electing 3 or more senators, the election is carried out according to a list proportional representation system from closed candidate lists (Articles L294 and L295 of the Electoral Code). On each list presented in the proportional representation districts, the difference between the number of candidates of each gender cannot be greater than 1 and there must be an alternation of male and female candidates (Article L300 (1)). On candidate lists presented in majoritarian districts, the principal candidate and his/her alternate must be of the opposite sex (Article L299 (1)).
Legal sanctions for non-compliance: Electoral law If a party list does not abide by the rule of parity, the prefect shall bring the matter to the Administrative Court (Article L303).
Rank order/placement rules: Electoral law On each list presented in the proportional representation districts, the difference between the number of candidates of each gender cannot be greater than 1 and there must be an alternation of male and female candidates (Article L300 (1).

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Last updated 2015-05-08

Quota at the Sub-National Level

Quota type:Legislated Candidate Quotas
Legal sourceDetails
Quota type:
Legislated Candidate Quotas
Electoral law 2013 Amendments to the electoral code, related to the election of the departmental councils, (Article L 191 of the Electoral Code) states that “voters in each canton of a department elect two members of the opposite sex, on a “binôme” or tandem ballot, whose names are arranged in alphabetical order on any ballot printed on the occasion of the election.” This new system of nomination of both female and male candidates (‘binôme’) guarantees achievement of parity in departmental councils. “[The] new map is composed of 2054 cantons [for a total of 4108 seats to be filled], each represented by two elected departmental councilors in a single vote…” (Dossier de presse).
Legal sanctions for non-compliance: Electoral law N/A
Rank order/placement rules: Electoral law N/A

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Last updated 2015-05-11

Voluntary Political Party Quotas*

PartyAcronymOfficial NameDetails, Quota provisions
Socialist Party PS Parti Socialiste The PS has a 50 percent quota for electoral lists (1990).

* Only political parties represented in parliament are included. When a country has legislated quotas in place, only political parties that have voluntary quotas that exceed the percentage/number of the national quota legislation are presented in this table.

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Last updated 2009-11-30

Additional information

 

France was the first country in the world to introduce a compulsory 50 per cent gender parity provision. Political parties are required to ensure the equal representation of men and women on their lists of candidates for most elections. The first major impact of the quota was in 2007, when the number of women in parliament rose to 18.5 per cent (Murray 2012: 27).

The quota provisions differ depending on the electoral systems applied for different legislative levels. The allocation of most seats in the Senate, at the sub-national level and for the European Parliament is based on proportional representation lists, while the elections for the National Assembly are based on a majority system in single member districts. The quota regulation provides for 50 per cent representation of each sex on the list for candidates for proportional representation lists and requires parties to alternate male and female candidates on their lists. For single member districts, only the top candidate on each list has the possibility to get elected—that is, women would need to occupy top seats on 50 per cent of the winning lists in order for parity to be reached.  

The first attempt to introduce legal quotas occurred in 1982, when a quota bill was passed for the elections to municipal councils. However, it was overturned by the Constitutional Council in 1982 as discriminatory (Krook, et. al. 2006: 210; Sineau 2008: 52). Parity was finally successfully legislated through the constitutional law of 1999, and the adoption of the electoral legislation in 2000.

Implementation of legislated quotas for elections of the National Assembly has been marked by notable challenges due to the system of single-member constituencies where parties have often resisted the implementation of the gender quota provisions even in the presence of financial sanctions. The combination of the list proportional representation system and the parity requirement, together with the sanction of invalidation of lists, has been noted as a combination leading to better compliance by parties at the local level (Sineau 2008: 54).

However, during the period of 2013-2015, France’s sub-national governance structure and the local electoral system have gone through a major change. Amendments to the electoral code, related to the election of the departmental councils, (Article L 191 of the Electoral Code) state that voters in each canton of a department elect two members (a male and a female). The law requires that alternates of each candidate should be persons of the same sex as their main candidates and should be presented in a tandem manner as well. According to Evans and Ivaldi, “France’s proactive attempts to achieve gender parity across its representative institutions …will by definition produce exact parity” (Evan and Ivaldi, 2015). Based on the results of the March 2015 departmental elections, half or 2054 of the 4,108 councilors are women.

Furthermore, in parallel to the introduction of the “tandem” nomination rules (“binôme” as it is termed in French); a restructuring of the old system has been initiated. “The Map of cantons was redesigned in early 2014. It will allow a more equitable representation of each canton in number of inhabitants per elected. From 4035 cantons in the last elections, the new map is composed of 2054 cantons [for a total of 4108 seats to be filled], each represented by two elected [female and male team], departmental councilors in a single vote in 2015” (les nouveautés à prendre en compte, http://www.interieur.gouv.fr). The new electoral system could be described as a two-round, first-past-the-post design.

To explain in greater detail, “…to be elected in the first round, the pair must obtain at least an absolute majority of votes (over 50 %) and a number of votes equal to at least 25 % of registered voters.[…]If no pair is elected in the first round, there shall be a 2nd round. The two candidates who led in the first round can be maintained. The following pairs can be maintained only if they have obtained a number of votes equal to at least 12.5% ??of registered voters. The pair that gets the largest number of votes (relative majority) in the second round is elected. Once elected, both members of the duo perform their duties independently of the other.” (comprendre ce qui change, www.interieur.gouv.fr)

So now, each of the 100 departments has about 20 cantons. Cantons serve as territorial units for electing departmental councilors, the number of which has risen from 4,030 to 4,108 in the recent sub-national governance reform. In 2011 only 717 out of 4,030 councilors (18%) were women (Annexe 11 - Les statistiques (au 1er décembre 2014).



Last updated 2015-05-08

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