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France - Electoral Law
Election to the European Parliament : 13 June 2004 - Electoral Procedure

1. LEGAL BASIS
  • Act concerning the election of the representatives of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage (1976).
  • Council decision of 25 June 2002 and 23 September 2002.
  • Law No 77-729 of 7 July 1977 as recently amended by Law No 2003-327 of 11 April 2003.
  • Decree No 79-160 of 28 February 1979 currently being amended to take account of the law of 11 April 2003.
2. ELECTORAL SYSTEM

The law has stipulated eight constituencies for the European election:

  • for metropolitan France, complete regions have been grouped into constituencies;
  • for the Overseas Territories, one constituency covers all the departments, territories and communities.
The 78 seats which France will have in the European Parliament have not yet been officially allocated among the constituencies. The new quota of seats will not come into force in French law until 1 May 2004, following ratification by all the Member States and accession countries of the Accession Treaty. The law states that allocation among the constituencies of the 78 seats for France's representatives will be by decree, but lays down the rule governing this allocation: the seats must be allocated between the constituencies in proportion to their population, using the largest remainder rule.

Allocation of seats and number of candidates assuming that France has 78 representatives in the European Parliament.

CONSTITUENCIES

NUMBER OF SEATS


NORTH-WEST
Basse-Normandie
Haute-Normandie
Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Picardie

12


WEST
Bretagne
Pays-de-Loire
Poitou-Charentes

10


EAST
Alsace
Bourgogne
Champagne-Ardenne
Franche-Comté
Lorraine

10


SOUTH-WEST
Aquitaine
Languedoc-Roussillon
Midi-Pyrénées

10


SOUTH-EAST
Corse
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Rhône-Alpes

13


LOIRE, MASSIF CENTRAL
Auvergne
Centre
Limousin

6


ILE-DE-FRANCE

14


OVERSEAS TERRITORIES
Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon,Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane
La Réunion, Mayotte
Nouvelle Calédonie, Polynésie française, Wallis-et-Futuna

3

NB : The number of candidates per constituency is double the number of seats to be filled in the constituency.

§ List system of voting for each constituency (8 constituencies) by proportional representation, with closed lists and no preferential voting.
Allocation of seats: rule of the highest average. Lists which do not obtain 5 % of the votes cast in the constituency will not be allocated any seats.
3. REGISTRATION OF CANDIDATES
Registration of candidates opens on Monday 17 May 2004 and closes on Friday 28 May 2004.
Lists of candidates are to be lodged with the Interior Ministry. They must have twice as many candidates as there are seats to be filled, in each constituency. (This is to prevent the list being used up if there are too many vacancies, as there is no possibility of holding by-elections).
In application of the rules on parity, lists must be made up of men and women alternately (Law of 6 June 2000).

Incompatibilities: rules on incompatibility are laid down as follows:

(a) Under the provisions of the Act concerning the election of the representatives of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage (20.09.1976) and the Council Decision of 25 June 2002 and 23 September 2002, the following offices are incompatible with the office of MEP:

  • President of the Republic
  • member of the government of a Member State
  • member, senator or deputy in a national Parliament
  • member of the European Commission
  • Judge, Advocate-General or Registrar of the Court of Justice or Court of First Instance of the European Union
  • European Community Ombudsman
  • member of the European Court of Auditors
  • member of the European Investment Bank
  • member of the Board of Directors of the European Central Bank
  • active official or other servant of the European institutions or of the specialised bodies attached to them or of the ECB.

(b) Under Laws 77-729 of 7 July 1977 as amended by Law 2003-327 of 11 April 2003, the following offices are incompatible:

  • member of the Council on Monetary Policy of the Bank of France
  • magistrate or judge in the commercial courts
  • member of the Economic and Social Council
  • member of the Constitutional Council.

(c) The mandate of MEP is incompatible with more than one of the following elected posts:

  • regional councillor, councillor in the Corsican Assembly, general councillor, Paris councillor, municipal councillor in a local authority with 3500 or more inhabitants.
4. POLLING DAY : 13 JUNE 2004 (from 8 a.m. to 8.00 pm)
Polling stations will be open from 8.00 to 18.00 (or 20.00). The closing time will be 18.00 or 20.00 by order of the prefect.
Counting of votes: Vote-counting will start as soon as the polling stations close, either18.00 or 20.00.
Provisional results and publication: The Council Decision of 25 June 2002 and 23 September 2002 provides that 'Member States may not officially make public the results of their count until after the close of polling in the Member State whose electors are the last to vote'.
Final results: Monday at 12 noon.
5. VOTING / STANDING FOR ELECTION
Registration on electoral rolls
  • French nationals and nationals of the other 14 EU Member States: 31 December 2003.
  • ationals of the 10 accession countries: 15 April 2004.

They will not actually be Community nationals until the Accession Treaty comes into force on 1 May 2004, which is after applications for registration on electoral rolls have closed. However, exceptional legislative provisions will shortly be adopted to allow them to be included on the electoral rolls after 1 May 2004. They will be authorised to apply for registration on the electoral roll up to 15 April 2004.

Right to vote: All EU citizens aged 18 and over who are domiciled or long-term resident in France and have full voting rights in their country of origin are entitled to vote. Voting is not compulsory in France.

Arrangements for voting:

  • French nationals living outside France may vote by travelling to France or by proxy; they cannot now vote in the consulates.
  • Overseas Territories: although they are not part of the EU but covered by association agreement, their inhabitants will take part in the election under the principle of the French law of indivisibility of the Republic.
Eligibility: All citizens of EU Member States aged 23 or over who are domiciled or long-term resident in France and are fully entitled to stand as candidates in their country of origin are eligible to stand.
6. ELECTION CAMPAIGN

Funding:

  • Reimbursement of election advertising: Lists of candidates obtaining at least 3% of the votes will be reimbursed the cost of their advertising: the cost of paper, printing the list of candidates' names, posters, leaflets and fees for poster sites.
  • Reimbursement of other election expenditure: Election expenditure other than advertising incurred by lists obtaining at least 3% of the votes will be reimbursed by the State up to a maximum of 50% of the ceiling for authorised election expenditure. This ceiling for electoral expenditure is set at € 1 150 000 for each list of candidates.
Official campaign starting date: 31 May 2004, i.e. the second Monday before polling day.

Media access:

  • Parties must send in an application to participate in the audiovisual campaign by Tuesday 11 May 2004.
  • The list of parties applying to participate in the audiovisual campaign will be published on Friday 14 May 2004.

TV and radio:

  • Two hours of television and two hours of radio for parties and groups represented by parliamentary groups in the National Assembly or Senate;
  • one hour of television and one hour of radio divided among the other parties and groups which have lists of candidates in at least five constituencies and have applied to use public service broadcasts before the fifth Tuesday before polling day (19 May 2004).
Opinion polls: Disseminating, publishing and commenting on opinion polls is prohibited on the day before polling day and the day itself.