French President as a Constitutional Head of State
The French president performs all those functions, which are usually performed by a constitutional head of a State. He appoints the Prime Minister and terminates his functions when the latter presents his resignation of government. He performs all ceremonial functions. He presides over the meetings of the Council of Ministers, National Defence Council, Higher Council of Judiciary, and the Executive Council: of the Community. He is also the supreme commander of the armed: forces. His power to preside over the meetings of the Council of Ministers provides him the direct opportunity to influence, guide, direct and control of the policies of the government.
He has the power to grant pardon, reprieve and amnesty to offenders. He nominates members to the Higher Council of Judiciary but he exercises these powers in consultation with the Prime Minister because the constitution requires that these acts of the President should be countersigned by the Prime Minister. The President signs all laws, treaties, executive orders and ordinances. He appoints French ambassadors to other states and accepts the credentials of the ambassadors of other countries to France. He represents the sovereign authority of France. Lastly, he addresses the nation on the occasion of national importance.
The President appoints Prime Minister and the other members of the government are appointed and dismissed by him on the advice of the Prime Minister. Unlike the practice prevailing in other countries, it is not obligatory for the President to appoint leader of the majority party as the Prime Minister. Membership of government and the office of Prime Minister are incompatible with the membership of the Parliament. The President appoints only that person as Prime Minister who he believes can enjoy the confidence of the National Assembly. Almost all high officials both civil and military are appointed by him. He is the Supreme Commands of the armed forces and is responsible for the defence of his country. As a head of State and head of Government he is responsible for broad policy guidelines and often for their execution. Matters of War and Peace, Foreign Policy and preservation of governmental actions are some of his important execution functions.
Under Articles-10, 11, 12 and 13, the President of the Republic has been vested the legislative powers has the power to convene or prorogue sessions of the Parliament. He has also the right to address the Parliament on his discretion and to express his opinion rather than that of the government. He can send messages to the Parliament. After the final passage of the law by the Parliament, it is presented to the government. The President promulgates the law within the 15 days following its submission to the government. If he is not satisfied with the law, he can return it to the Parliament for reconsideration. The President cannot refuse reconsideration of the bill.
The President of the Republic can submit to a Referendum any Government bill dealing with the organization of public authorities approving a community agreement or the authorization to ratify a treaty that might affect the functioning of the institution. If the measure is approved by the people, the President has to promulgate it within 15 days.
The President can dissolve the National Assembly (at any time. on any issue and for any reason) after consulting the Prime Minister and the Presidents of both the Houses. The constitution however lays two limitations;
- No dissolution can take place during the year following these elections; and
- National Assembly- cannot be dissolved during national emergency.
The President has the power to grant pardon, reprieve and amnesty to offenders. He is the protector of the independence of judicial authority He is assisted by the Higher Council of Judiciary. This council is presided over by the President. Its 9 members are appointed by him.
The President has been given special powers for dealing with national emergencies. Article-16 of the constitution states the scope of this power. After consulting officially the Prime Minister, the Presidents of the assemblies and the Constitutional Council, he can take suitable measures when there exists a series and immediate threat to
- The institutions of the Republic.
- The independence of the nation and
- The integrity of its international obligations and the regular functioning of the constitutional public authorities have been interrupted.
During emergency, the President assumes almost dictatorial powers.
The annual budget is prepared by the Finance. Minister but under the policy directives of the President and puts it before the Parliament for approval. If Parliament fails to approve it within 70 days, the Government may implement it through ordinance. Such ordinance will be signed by the French President.