On Elections

How people elect parliaments

France

 

Assemblée Nationale

 

Specific elections: 2012 – 2017

Background

The Assemblée Nationale (National Assembly) of the Parlement of France is an assembly of 577 members. 566 single member electoral divisions (termed conscriptions) are allotted among the 101 French départements (including overseas territories) based on a target population (currently around 100,000 persons).

The boundaries of the circonscriptions were reviewed for the first time in many years in 2014, resulting in the 2017 elections showing a significantly improved fairness in the proportionality of voter populations.

From the elections of 2012 onward an additional 11 constituencies were allocated to French citizens living overseas, starting from the elections of 2012. Each of 11 world zones was allocated 1 seat. The degree of variation in electoral influence between these overseas residents (in terms of population-seat or voter-seat ratios) varied significantly, and varied from the national mean level of influence.

Members are directly elected in the conscriptions by a two-round voting method which is essentially a plurality method with a limited capacity for preference transfer from eliminated candidates. If a candidate wins votes in the first round equal to a majority of the formal votes cast in their conscriptions, and also at least 25% of the total number of registered voters in their conscriptions, they are elected in that round.

There are rare instances of candidates winning a majority of votes in the first round but failing to achieve the second criterion where voter turnout is unusually low.

If there is no such winner, all candidates who poll in excess of 12.5% of the total number of registered voters in their conscriptions (or, if fewer than two candidates meet that condition, the two highest-placed candidates) run in a second round, which is determined by the plurality voting method.

Instances where three candidates proceed to the second round are not uncommon, but in such cases standing arrangements or between-round bargaining between political parties usually sees tactical withdrawal of nominations from the second round so that only two candidates remain.

Electoral law specifies that conscription boundaries must be drawn so that variations of population between the conscriptions within each département do not result in any conscription exceeding more than 20% the average population of the conscriptions of the département.

However, this law was not implemented as intended and electoral boundaries were not redrawn between 1982 and 2009. As a result of demographic changes to population distribution, by 2009 the populations in conscriptions had come to range from 34,000 to 188,000.

In 2010-11 a review of boundaries was finally completed. As the 2012 elections were thus the first in three decades to be conducted on a freshly redistributed set of division boundaries, the inequality in division sizes (and thus voter influence) at the 2012 elections is the lowest in many years.

Commentary and analysis

Elections

Overview

Inequality in the effective influence of voters caused by variations in Assemblée conscription enrolments has been significant in recent elections, with the standard deviation of variations compared to the mean enrolment being X.X% in 2012. Given that this election benefited from a substantial review of population data and conscription boundaries, it is likely that this result is lower in general than was the case for previous elections.

There are minimal barriers to party formation and registration in France, where politics occurs in a vibrant multi-level space involving elections for local, regional, national and European Parliament representative positions. For the 2017 elections Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron rapidly formed a new party, En Marche, which attracted such dramatic public support within only a few months of campaigning that the party won a majority of seats in the Assemblée at it’s very first political contest, reducing the established major parties to greatly diminished minority delegations.

Inequality in the effective influence of voters caused by variations in conscription turnouts (formal votes) has been significant in recent elections.

Specific elections

2012 – 2017

Data

Sources

Data on Assemblée election results is available from the French Ministre de l’Intérieur , although it is published in non-tabular, page-by-circonscription format.

Dataset

[Datasets are not yet published]

  • OnElections election results – FR-2012-17 v1.xls

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