To which extent can the French president bypass the parliament using decrees?


I am interested in the actual power the French president has to bypass the parliament to issue a decree. Which control mechanisms do exist on parliament side? And what is the possible content of such a decree? Is it comparable to a law?

I stumbled upon this article which says:

Le Parisien newspaper noted that some 85 laws have been published by decree in France between 1984 and 2013 alone, including by the last two presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy. However, while passing laws by decree may skip Parliament in some stages, it still needs to be involved in the procedure. "Essentially, you have to ask Parliament for permission to do it in the first place, then Parliament must sign it to allow it to pass at the end," Lecerf explained. So in other words, Parliament needs to give the green light, but won't be involved in the dialogue.

However the precise mechanism remains unclear to me. What are those "some stages"? And where are the benefits for such decrees if "Parliament must sign it to allow it to pass at the end"?


Posted 2019-02-26T20:29:51.983

Reputation: 163



The way this works is that parliament votes to grant the government (technically not the president, although in normal situations, the president still decides everything behind the scenes) the power to publish these decrees, which come into force immediately. Later on, the parliament gets to ratify them. By definition, the contents are indeed similar to what would otherwise go in a statute (that's why the parliament must grant these powers to the government in the first place). The law granting the government these special decree powers must also set a time limit, under six months.

What you gain is a much speedier procedure, you don't have to go through several rounds of amendments in both houses of parliament, committee discussions, etc. The decrees also come into force immediately, the parliament only gets to ratify them after the fact in a simple up-or-down vote (again no lengthy debate or revision). Another related reason to use this procedure is circumventing a busy parliamentary schedule.

Finally, it also serves another purpose: It can help the government whip its majority behind unpopular measures. Reluctant members of parliament, who might be tempted to debate some details of a law or propose alternative measures would typically not go as far as voting against the whole package and the government they support.


Posted 2019-02-26T20:29:51.983

Reputation: 24 058