World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Senate (France)

Article Id: WHEBN0000567323
Reproduction Date:

Title: Senate (France)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Democratic Movement (France), France, Catherine Troendle, Radical Party (France), LGBT history in France
Collection: Government of France, National Upper Houses, Senate (France), Senate of France
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Senate (France)

Founded 1799
Gérard LarcherLR
Since 1 October 2014
Seats 348 (Sep 2011)
Political groups
     Republican (143)[1]
Indirect election
Last election
28 September 2014
Next election
September 2017
Meeting place
Luxembourg Palace, Paris
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
France portal

The Senate (French: Sénat ) is the upper house of the Parliament of France, presided over by a president. Indirectly elected by elected officials, it represents territorial collectivities of the Republic and French citizens living abroad.

The Senate enjoys less prominence than the lower house, the directly elected National Assembly; debates in the Senate tend to be less tense and generally receive less media coverage.


  • History 1
  • Composition and election 2
  • Composition and membership 3
  • President 4
  • Powers 5
  • Location 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes and references 8
  • External links 9


France's first experience with an upper house was under the Directory from 1795 to 1799, when the Council of Ancients was the upper chamber. There were Senates in both the First and Second Empires (the former being known as the sénat conservateur, the latter as the French Senate), but these were only nominally legislative bodies – technically they were not legislative, but rather advisory bodies on the model of the Roman Senate.

With the Restoration in 1814, a new Chamber of Peers was created, on the model of the British House of Lords. At first it contained hereditary peers, but following the July Revolution of 1830, it became a body to which one was appointed for life. The Second Republic returned to a unicameral system after 1848, but soon after the establishment of the Second French Empire in 1852, a Senate was established as the upper chamber. In the Fourth Republic, the Senate was replaced by the Council of the Republic, but its function was largely the same. With the new constitution of the Fifth Republic enforced on 4 October 1958, the older name of Senate was restored.

In 2011, the Socialist Party won control of the French Senate for the first time since the foundation of the French Fifth Republic.[2]

Composition and election

Until September 2004, the Senate had 321 senators, each elected to a nine-year term. That month, the term was reduced to six years, while the number of senators progressively increased to 348 in 2011, in order to reflect the country's population growth.[3] Senators were elected in thirds every three years; this was also changed to one-half of their number every three years.[4]

Senators are elected indirectly by approximately 150,000 officials ("grands électeurs"), including regional councilors, department councilors, mayors, city councilors in large towns, and members of the National Assembly. However, 90% of the electors are delegates appointed by councilors. This system introduces a bias in the composition of the Senate favoring rural areas. As a consequence, while the political majority changes frequently in the National Assembly, the Senate has remained politically right since the foundation of the Fifth Republic, much to the displeasure of the Socialists.[5] This has spurred controversy, especially after the September 2008 senatorial elections[6] in which the (left-wing) Socialist Party, despite controlling all but two of France's regions, a majority of départements, and communes representing more than 50% of the population, still failed to achieve a majority in the Senate. The Senate has also been accused of being a "refuge" for politicians that have lost their seats in the National Assembly.

Twelve senators are elected to represent French citizens living outside the Republic.[7]

Following a tradition started by the first National Assembly during the French Revolution, the "left-wing" parties sit to the left as seen from the president's seat, and the "right-wing" parties sit to the right, and the seating thus indicates the political spectrum as represented in the Senate.

Composition and membership

Parties and coalitions Abbr. 2004 a 2008 ± 2011 ±
Union for a Popular Movement (Union pour un mouvement populaire) UMP 159 56 151 –8 132 –19
Centrist Union-UDF (Union centriste–Union pour la démocratie française) UC-UDF 30 4 29 –1 31 +2
Socialist Party (Parti socialiste) PS 95 29 116 +21 131 +15
Communist, Republican and Citizen (Communiste, républicain, et citoyen) CRC 23 3 23 +0 21 –2
Europe Écologie–The Greens (Europe Écologie–Les Verts) VEC 0 +0 0 +0 10 +10
European Democratic and Social Rally (Rassemblement démocratique et social européen) RDSE 17 8 17 +0 16 –1
Total UMP, UC-UDF and one RDSE (Right) 189 60 180 –9 164 –16
Total "Presidential Majority" PS, CRC, VEC and all but one RDSE (Left) 118 32 139 +21 177 +38
Non-Inscrits NI 6 1 7 +1 7 +0
Total 331 114 343 +12 348 +5
a - Seats up for election (Serie A)
Source: Public Senat


The senators elect a Georges Pompidou.


Under the Constitution, the Senate has nearly the same powers as the National Assembly. Bills may be submitted by the administration (projets de loi) or by either house of Parliament (propositions de loi). Because both houses may amend the bill, it may take several readings to reach an agreement between the National Assembly and the Senate. When the Senate and the National Assembly cannot agree on a bill, the administration can decide, after a procedure called commission mixte paritaire, to give the final decision to the National Assembly, whose majority is normally on the government's side. This does not happen frequently; usually the two houses eventually agree on the bill, or the administration decides to withdraw it. However, this power gives the National Assembly a prominent role in the law-making process, especially since the administration is necessarily of the same side as the Assembly, for the Assembly can dismiss the administration through a motion of censure. The power to pass a vote of censure, or vote of no confidence, is limited. As was the case in the Fourth Republic's constitution, new cabinets do not have to receive a vote of confidence. Also, a vote of censure can occur only after 10 percent of the members sign a petition; if rejected, those members that signed cannot sign another petition until that session of Parliament has ended. If the petition gets the required support, a vote of censure must gain an absolute majority of all members, not just those voting. If the Assembly and the Senate have politically distinct majorities, the Assembly will in most cases prevail, and open conflict between the two houses is uncommon.

The Senate also serves to monitor the administration's actions by publishing many reports each year on various topics.


The Palais du Luxembourg

The Senate is housed inside the Luxembourg Palace in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, and is guarded by Republican Guards. In front of the building lies the Senate's garden, the Jardin du Luxembourg, open to the public.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c d e f g  
  2. ^ Bremer, Catherine (25 September 2011). "French left seizes Senate majority, hurts Sarkozy". Reuters. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Les groupes politiques". 13 January 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  5. ^ Gilles Le Béguec, Les socialistes et le Sénat, Parlement[s], Revue d'histoire politique, n° 6 2006/2, pp. 57–72, L'Harmattan, ISSN 1768-6520 (print) ISSN 1760-6233 (online)
  6. ^ "Sénat, le triomphe de l’anomalie – Libération". Libération. France. 25 September 2008. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  7. ^ Sénat français. "Sénateurs représentant les Français établis hors de France – Sénat". Retrieved 21 April 2011. 

External links

  • Official web site.

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.