French Politics: Should The Presidencial Term Be Reduced?

1114 Words Jul 10th, 2018 5 Pages
Since 1962 when the referendum on the Direct Election of the President of the French Republic took place, the President was to be chosen by the people through universal suffrage instead of by the electoral college like it has been before. But the changes in French politics were far from over. During September 2000, the French voters had to make a very important decision that would forever change the nature of French politics. They were to decide if a constitutional amendment should be considered in order to reduce the presidential term from seven years to five. The positive result of the referendum made it obvious that the average French voter was ready for change. But why was this the case? What was the problem with the current system …show more content…
The five year presidential term, or quinquennat, was supposed to stabilize the patterns of who was in power and for how long as well as to limit the times of cohabitation. “In this way the presidency would re-emerge as the undisputed supreme authority and centre of policy-making, re-establishing a Fifth Republic norm widely perceived to have become weakened by three periods of cohabitation, where lines of decision-making and responsibility had often seemed blurred” (Buffotot & Hanley 2003) Additionally, politicians wished that the changes would bring about alterations to problems like voter indifference, the spreading disintegration of political supply and an cumulative polarization. Moreover, “for political scientists, the new arrangement [meant] that future French presidential and legislative elections [would] occur in quick succession in five-year cycles, a situation that provides an excellent natural laboratory for analyzing multiparty competition in two different strategic contexts” (Laver et al. 2006: 669). Moreover, the electoral cycle was able to be amended at this point in time due to opportunism and chance. When Georges Pompidou tired in 1973 to shorten the presidential term he failed “primarily because of an event that had nothing to do with the problem, namely the Yom Kippur war in the Middle East” (Duhamel 2001). The modification process was frozen because this war caused Pompidou’s majority to lose