The Government and Political System in France
The French Republic is a unitary semi-presidential republic with democratic traditions. The executive branch is led by the President of the Republic and Government. The President is elected directly by universal adult suffrage for a 5-year term and is the Head of State while the Government is led by the president-appointed Prime Minister.
The French parliament is a bicameral legislature comprising a National Assembly and a Senate. The National Assembly deputies represent local constituencies while senators are chosen by an electoral college for 6-year terms. The Senate's legislative powers are limited. The government has a strong influence in shaping the agenda of Parliament.
Government in France is known for its high degree of centralization but in March 2003 parliament approved amendments to the constitution allowing for the devolution of quite wide-ranging powers to the regions and departments. Jacques Chirac has been president since 1995.