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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 2014-04-02

Upper house

Sénat / Senate

Total seats: 347
Total women:77
% women: 22%
Election year:2011
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 2014-01-22

Quota at the Sub-National Level

Quota type:Legislated Candidate Quotas
Legal sourceDetails
Quota type:
Legislated Candidate Quotas
Electoral law Strict alternation on candidate lists is required for regional councils, municipal councils in towns with more than 3500 inhabitants, in elections to the local bodies in Corsica and Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the council of Paris and the municipal arrondissement councils of Paris, Lyons, and Marseille (Electoral Code, Articles L264 (1), L331-2, L346 (1) and L370 (1)).
Legal sanctions for non-compliance: Electoral law If a party does not abide to the rule of parity, the list is invalidated (Articles L265, L350 (2) and L372).
Rank order/placement rules: Electoral law Strict alternation on candidate lists is required for regional councils, municipal councils in towns with more than 3500 inhabitants, in elections to the local bodies in Corsica and Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the council of Paris and the municipal arrondissement councils of Paris, Lyons, and Marseille (Articles L264 (1), L331-2, L346 (1) and L370 (1)).

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Last updated 2014-01-22

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. Legislated quotas and the parity principle do not apply to senatorial elections in smaller departments in single member constituencies, local departmental assemblies and municipal councils in towns with less than 3,500 inhabitants (Sineau 2008: 54).

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).

The Socialist Party was the first party to initiate quotas in 1974, with a 10 per cent minimum threshold which was increased to 30 per cent in 1990. Gender quotas were also used by the Communist Party. The Green Party of France had a parity principle from their formation in 1984.

Last updated 2014-03-21

Sources

LEGAL SOURCES:

OTHER SOURCES:

  • Murray, R., ‘Parity and Legislative Competence in France’, in S. Franceschet, M. L. Krook and J. Piscopo (eds), The Impact of Gender Quotas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012);
  • Sineau, M., ‘France: Parité Under the Law’, in D. Dahlerup and L. Freidenvall (eds), Electoral Gender Quota Systems and Their Implementation in Europe (Brussels: European Parliament, 2008)

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