French presidency can be regarded as the oldest in Europe. The office of the president in France is the most powerful office, and the president is on top of all other politicians. The French Constitution has undergone amendments through referendums. These amendments have changed the process of electing the president and the period the president stays in office. Before the 1962 referendum, the French president used to be elected through an electoral college. Today, the president is elected directly by universal suffrage through a two-stage voting process (Hirschfield, 2009, p. 67). The period the president stays in office underwent changes through a referendum conducted in 2000 which saw the reduction of the term from 7 to 5 years.
The elected president can only run the office of the president for two terms. The French Constitution requires that for one to be considered as an official presidential candidate, interested persons must gather nominations from more than 500 officials elected in various posts such as mayors. It is also a requirement that the signing officials to come from at least 30 departments and not more than 10% of them from the same department.
The officials can only nominate one candidate. Statistics show that France has about 45,000 of such elected officials, 36,000 of them comprise mayors (Hirschfield, 2009, p. 71). After securing a chance on the ballot box, the first round of the voting process is carried out: all parties participate in this process to promote their candidate. In case the candidates fail to obtain an absolute majority of votes that are cast during the first round of voting, the leading two candidates go for a runoff election.
During the runoff elections, the candidate who gathers the largest number of votes is declared to be the elected to run the office for a period of five years (Knapp and Wright, 2006, p. 172). Gaining the majority of votes in the first round of voting does not guarantee that the candidate will win in the second round of voting. In France, campaigns are highly regulated and particularly in spending and financing (Hirschfield, 2009, p. 75). A candidate who gets a score of 5% spends about 20 million Euros.
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