Constitution of the Fifth French Republic

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Constitution of France  (1958) 
Michel Debré and Charles de Gaulle, translated by William Pickles
From William Pickles' French Constitution of October 4th, 1958. OCLC 3094951all editions. Reviewed in The Modern Law Review, Vol. 23, No. 5 (Sep., 1960), pp. 590-591

Preamble[edit]

The French people solemnly proclaim their attachment to the Rights of man and to the principles of national sovereignty as defined by the Declaration of 1789, confirmed and completed by the Preamble to the Constitution of 1946. By virtue of these principles and of that of the free determination of peoples, the Republic offers to those Overseas territories which express a desire to accept membership of them new institutions founded on the common ideal of liberty, equality and fraternity and conceived with a view to their democratic evolution.

  • Article 1. The Republic and those peoples of the Overseas territories who, by an act of free determination, adopt the present Constitution set up a Community. The Community is founded upon the equality and solidarity of the peoples composing it.

Title I: Sovereignity[edit]

  • Article 2. France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It ensures the equality before the law of all citizens, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It respects all beliefs. The national emblem is the tricolour flag, blue, white and red. The national anthem is the 'Marseillaise'. The motto of the Republic is 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity'. Its principle is government of the people, by the people, for the people.
  • Article 3. National sovereignty belongs to the people, who exercise it through their representatives and by way of referendum. No section of the people and no individual may claim to exercise it. The suffrage may be direct or indirect in conditions provided for by the Constitution. It is in all cases universal, equal and secret. The right to vote, in conditions laid down by law, is enjoyed by all French nationals of either sex who are of age and in full possession of their civil and political rights.
  • Article 4. Parties and political groups play a part in the exercise of the right to vote. The right to form parties and their freedom of action are unrestricted. They must respect the principles of national sovereignty and of democracy.

Title II: The President of the Republic[edit]

  • Article 5. The President of the Republic endeavours to ensure respect for the Constitution. He provides, by his arbitration, for the regular functioning of the public authorities and the continuity of the State. He is the protector of the independence of the nation, of the integrity of its territory, of respect for treaties and Community agreements.
  • Article 6. [Subsequently amended] The President of the Republic is elected for seven years by an electoral college which includes the members of Parliament, of the Departmental Councils, and of the Assemblies of Overseas territories, in addition to the elected representatives of the Municipal Councils. These representatives are:
    • the Mayor for communes of less than 1,000 inhabitants;
    • the Mayor and first Deputy-Mayor for communes of 1,000 to 2,000 inhabitants;
    • the Mayor, first Deputy-Mayor and the municipal Councillor having received the highest vote in the municipal elections, for communes of 2,001 to 2,500 inhabitants;
    • the Mayor and first two Deputy-Mayors for communes of 2,501 to 3,000 inhabitants;
    • the Mayor, the first two Deputy-Mayors and the three municipal Councillors having received the highest votes, for communes of 3,001 to 6,000 inhabitants;
    • the Mayor, the first two Deputy-Mayors and the six Councillors having received the highest votes, for communes of 6,001 to 9,000 inhabitants;
    • all the municipal Councillors for communes of more than 9,000 inhabitants;
    • in addition, for communes of more than 30,000 inhabitants, delegates nominated by the Municipal Council at the rate of one for every thousand inhabitants after the first 30,000.
In the Overseas territories of the Republic, the electoral college also includes representatives elected by the Councils of the administrative entities, in the conditions laid down in an organic law. The representation of member States of the Community in the college session electing the President of the Republic is determined by agreement between the Republic and the member States of the Community. The methods of application of the present article are determined by an organic law.
  • Article 7. The President is elected at the first ballot, if an absolute majority is obtained. If this is not obtained at the first ballot, the President of the Republic is elected at the second ballot by a relative majority. Voting begins at the time fixed by the Government. The election of the new President takes place not less than twenty and not more than fifty days before the expiry of the existing President's term of office. If, for whatever reason, the Presidency of the Republic falls vacant, or if the incapacity of the President has been certified by the Constitutional Council, at the request of the Government and by an absolute majority of its members, the functions of the President, except those conferred by articles 11 and 12 below, are performed temporarily by the President of the Senate. When a vacancy occurs, or when the incapacity is certified by the Constitutional Council to be permanent, and unless force majeure has been certified by the Constitutional Council, the election of a new President takes place not less than twenty and not more than fifty days after the opening of the vacancy or the declaration of the permanence of the incapacity.
  • Article 8. The President of the Republic appoints the Prime Minister. He terminates his period of office on the presentation by the Prime Minister of the resignation of the Government. He appoints and dismisses the other members of the Government on the proposal of the Prime Minister.
  • Article 9. The President of the Republic presides over the Council of Ministers.
  • Article 10. The President of the Republic promulgates laws within the fortnight following their final adoption and transmission to the Government. Before the end of this period, he may ask Parliament to reconsider the whole law or specified articles. This reconsideration cannot be refused.
  • Article 11. On the proposal of the Government during Parliamentary sessions, or on the joint proposal of the two Assemblies, published in the Journal Officiel, the President of the Republic may submit to a referendum any Government Bill dealing with the organisation of the public authorities, approving a Community agreement or authorizing the ratification of a treaty which, although not in conflict with the Constitution, would affect the working of institutions. If the result of the referendum is favourable to the adoption of the Bill, the President of the Republic promulgates it within the time-limit laid down in the preceding article.
  • Article 12. The President of the Republic may pronounce the dissolution of the National Assembly, after consulting the Prime Minister and the Presidents of the Assemblies. A general election takes place not less than twenty and not more than forty days after the dissolution. The National Assembly meets as of right on the second Thursday following its election. If this meeting takes place outside the periods fixed for ordinary sessions, a session opens as of right for a period of a fortnight. No new dissolution may take place during the year following these elections.
  • Article 13. The President of the Republic signs such ordinances and decrees as have been considered by the Council of Ministers. He appoints to the civil and military posts of the State. Councillors of State, the Grand Chancellor of the Legion of Honour, Ambassadors and Envoys Extraordinary, Senior Councillors of the Court of Accounts, Prefects, Government representatives in Overseas Territories, General Officers, Flag Officers, Air-Marshals, Rectors of Academies and directeurs of Government departments are appointed in the Council of Ministers. An organic law determines the other appointments to be made in the Council of Ministers, as also the conditions in which the appointing power of the President of the Republic may be delegated by him and be exercised in his name.
  • Article 14. The President of the Republic accredits Ambassadors and Envoys Extraordinary to foreign powers; foreign Ambassadors and Envoys Extraordinary are accredited to him.
  • Article 15. The President of the Republic is Head of the armed forces. He presides over the Higher Councils and Committees of National Defence.
  • Article 16. When there exists a serious and immediate threat to the institutions of the Republic, the independence of the Nation, the integrity of its territory or the fulfilment of its international obligations, and the regular functioning of the constitutional public authorities has been interrupted, the President of the Republic takes the measures required by the circumstances, after consulting officially the Prime Minister, the Presidents of the Assemblies and the Constitutional Council. He informs the Nation of these matters by a message. These measures must be inspired by the desire to ensure to the constitutional public authorities, with the minimum of delay, the means of fulfilling their functions. The Constitutional Council is consulted about them. Parliaments meet as of right. The National Assembly cannot be dissolved during the [period of] exercise of the exceptional powers.
  • Article 17. The President of the Republic has the right of pardon.
  • Article 18. The President of the Republic communicates with the two Assemblies of Parliament by means of messages which are read for him and on which there is no debate. If Parliament is not in session, it is specially summoned for this purpose.
  • Article 19. The acts of the President of the Republic other than those provided for in articles 8 (para. 1), 11,12, 16, 18, 54, 56 and 61 are counter- signed by the Prime Minister and, where necessary, by the appropriate Ministers.

Title III: The Government[edit]

  • Article 20. The Government decides and directs the policy of the nation. It has at its disposal the administration and the armed forces. It is responsible to Parliament in the conditions and in accordance with the procedures laid down in Articles 49 and 50.
  • Article 21. The Prime Minister is in general charge of the work of the Government. He is responsible for National Defence. He ensures the execution of laws. Except as provided for under Article 13, he exercises rule-making power and appoints to civil and military posts. He may delegate certain of his powers to the Ministers. He deputises for the President of the Republic, when necessary, as Chairman of the Councils and Committees referred to in Article 15. In exceptional circumstances, he may deputise for him as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, by virtue of an explicit delegation of authority and with a specific agenda.
  • Article 22. The acts of the Prime Minister are countersigned, where necessary, by the Ministers responsible for their execution.
  • Article 23. Membership of the Government is incompatible with that of Parliament, with the representation of any trade or professional organization on the national level, with any public employment or professional activity. An organic law lays down the conditions in which the holders of the above offices, functions or employments are to be replaced. Members of Parliament are replaced in the manner laid down in Article 25.

Title IV: Parliament[edit]

  • Article 24. Parliament is composed of the National Assembly and the Senate. The Deputies of the National Assembly are elected bydirect, universal suffrage. The Senate is elected by indirect suffrage. It represents the territorial entities of the Republic. French citizens resident abroad are represented in the Senate.
  • Article 25. An organic law determines the length of life of each assembly, the number of its members, the payment made to them, the rules concerning qualification for and disqualification from election and the incompatibility of certain functions with membership of Parliament. This organic law also determines the manner of election of those who, in the event of a vacancy, replace Deputies and Senators until the next election, general or partial, to the assembly in which the vacancy occurs.
  • Article 26. No member of Parliament may be prosecuted, sought out, arrested, held in custody or tried on account of opinions expressed or votes cast by him in the exercise of his functions. No member of Parliament may be prosecuted or arrested on account of any crime or misdemeanour during a parliamentary session, without the consent of the Assembly of which he is a member, except when the member is arrested in flagrante delicto. Members of Parliament may be arrested when Parliament is not in session only with the authorization of the bureau of the Assembly of which they are members, except when the arrest is in flagrante delicto, when the prosecution has [already] been authorized or the final sentence pronounced. Members are released from custody or their prosecution is suspended if the Assembly of which they are members so demands.
  • Article 27. Any specific instruction to a member of Parliament [from an outside body] is null and void. The member's right to vote belongs to him alone. The (sic) organic law may authorize the delegation of the right to vote in exceptional circumstances. In these cases, no member may cast more than one delegated vote.
  • Article 28. Parliament meets as of right in two ordinary sessions per year. The first session begins on the first Tuesday of October and ends on the third Friday of December. The second session begins on the last Tuesday of April; it may not last more than three months.
  • Article 29. At the request of the Prime Minister or of the majority of the members of the National Assembly, Parliament meets in special session, with a specified agenda. When the special session is held at the request of members of the National Assembly, the closure decree is read as soon as Parliament has completed theagenda for which it was called and at most twelve days after its meeting. Only the Prime Minister can ask for a new session before the end of the monthfollowing the date of the closure decree.
  • Article 30. Except when Parliament meets as of right, special sessions are opened and closed by decree of the President of the Republic.
  • Article 31. Members of the Government have access to both Assemblies. They are heard when they so request. They may be assisted by Government commissioners.
  • Article 32. The President of the National Assembly is elected for the life of each Parliament. The President of the Senate is elected after each partial renewal.
  • Article 33. The sittings of both Assemblies are public. A full report of debates ispublished in the Journal Officiel.Each assembly may meet in secret session at the request of the Prime Minister or of one-tenth of its members.

Title V: Relations between Parliament and Government[edit]

  • Article 34. Laws are voted by Parliament. Laws determine the rules concerning:
    • civic rights and the fundamental guarantees of the public liberties of the citizen; the obligations of citizens, as regards their persons and property, for purposes of National Defence;
    • the nationality, status and legal capacity of persons, property in marriage, inheritance and gifts;
    • the definitions of crimes and misdemeanours and of the penalties applicable to them; criminal procedure, amnesty, the creation of new orders of jurisdiction and the statute of the judiciary;
    • the basis of assessment, rate and methods of collection of taxes of all kinds; the currency system.
Laws determine also the rules concerning:
  • the electoral system for Parliamentary and local assemblies;
  • the creation of categories of public corporation;
  • the fundamental guarantees of civil servants and members of the armed forces:
  • nationalizations and the transfer of property from the public to the private sectors.
Laws determine the fundamental principles:
  • of the general organization of National Defence;
  • of the free administration of local entities, of their powers and of their resources;
  • of education;
  • of the law of property, of real-property rights and of civil and commercial contract;
  • of labour law, trade-union law and social security.
Finance laws determine the resources and obligations of the State, in the manner and with the reservations provided for in an organic law. Programme-laws determine the purposes of the social and economic action of the State. The provisions of the present article may be completed and more closely defined by an organic law.
  • Article 35. Declarations of war are authorized by Parliament.
  • Article 36. A state of siege is decreed in the Council of Ministers. Its prolongation beyond twelve days can be authorized only by Parliament.
  • Article 37. Matters other than those regulated by laws fall within the field of rule-making. Documents in the form of laws, but dealing with matters falling within the rule-making field may be modified by decree issued after consultation with the Council of State. Such of these documents as come into existence after the coming into force of the present Constitution may be modified by decree only if the Constitutional Council has declared them to be within the rule-making sphere, by virtue of the previous paragraph.
  • Article 38. With a view to carrying out its programme, the Government may seek the authorization of Parliament, for a limited period of time,- to issue ordinances regulating matters normally falling within the field of law-making. (The) ordinances are made in the Council of Ministers after consultation with the Council of State. They come into force upon publication, but cease to be effective if the Bill ratifying them is not laid before Parliament by the date fixed by the enabling Act. At the expiration of the period mentioned in paragraph 1 of this Article, (the) ordinances may be modified only by law, as regards matters falling within the field of law.
  • Article 39. Legislative initiative is exercised by the Prime Minister and by Members of Parliament. Government Bills are considered in the Council of Ministers, after consultation with the Council of State and laid before one of the two assemblies. Finance Bills are submitted first to the National Assembly.
  • Article 40. Private members' Bills, resolutions and amendments which, if passed, would reduce public revenues or create or increase charges on the revenue are out of order.
  • Article 41. If, in the course of legislative procedure, it becomes apparent that a private members' proposal or amendment does not fall within the field of law-making, or is in conflict with powers delegated by virtue of Article 38, the Government may demand that it be declared out of order. In the event of disagreement between the Government and the President of the Assembly concerned, the Constitutional Council gives a ruling, at the request of either party, within a week.
  • Article 42. Government Bills are discussed, in the assembly to which they are first submitted, on the basis of the Government's text. An assembly debating a Bill transmitted from the other assembly discusses it on the basis of the text transmitted to it.
  • Article 43. Government and private members' Bills are sent, at the request of the Government, or of the assembly then discussing them, to Commissions specially appointed for this purpose. Bills of either type for which such a request has not been made are sent to one of the permanent Commissions, the number of which is limited to six for each assembly.
  • Article 44. Members of Parliament and the Government have the right of amendment. When the debate has begun, the Government may object to the discussion of any amendment which has not previously been submitted to the Commission. If the Government so requests, the assembly concerned accepts or rejects by a single vote the whole or part of the Bill or motion under discussion, together with such amendments as have been proposed oraccepted by the Government.
  • Article 45. Every Government or private member's Bill is discussed successively in the two assemblies with a view to agreement on identical versions. When, as a result of disagreement between the two assemblies, a Billhas not been passed after two readings in each assembly, or, if the Government has declared the Bill urgent, after a single reading by each assembly, the Prime Minister is entitled to have the Bill sent to a joint Committee composed of equal numbers from the two assemblies, with the task of finding agreed versions of the provisions in dispute. The version prepared by the joint committee may be submitted by the Government to the two assemblies for their approval. No amendment may be accepted without the agreement of the Government. If the joint committee does not produce an agreed version, or if the version agreed is not approved as provided for in the preceding paragraph, the Government may ask the National Assembly, after one more reading by the National Assembly and by the Senate, to decide the matter. In this case, the National Assembly may adopt either the version prepared by the joint committee or the last version passed by itself, modified, if necessary, by one or any ofthe amendments passed by the Senate.
  • Article 46. Laws to which the Constitution gives the status of organic laws are passed or amended in the following conditions. The Bill, whether Government or private member's, is not debated orvoted on in the first assembly in which it is introduced until a fortnight after its introduction. The procedure of Article 45 applies. Nevertheless, if the two assemblies fail to agree, the Bill may become law only if it is passed at its final reading in the National Assembly by an absolute majority of its members. Organic laws relating to the Senate must be passed in the same terms by both assemblies. Organic laws may be promulgated only when the Constitutional Council has certified their conformity with the Constitution.
  • Article 47. An organic law lays down the conditions in which Parliament votes Finance Bills. If the National Assembly has not concluded its first reading within forty days from the introduction of the Bill, the Government sends the Bill to the Senate, which must reach a decision within a fortnight. Subsequent procedure is that provided for in Article 45. If Parliament has reached no decision within seventy days, the provisions of the Bill may be put into force by ordinance. If the Finance Bill determining revenue and expenditure for the financial year has not been introduced in time to be promulgated before the beginning of the financial year, the Government asks Parliament, as a matter of urgency, for authorization to levy the taxes voted and to allocate by decree the sums necessary for estimates already approved. The time limits fixed by the present article are suspended when Parliament is not in session. The Court of Accounts assists Parliament and the Government to supervise the application of Finance Acts.
  • Article 48. The agenda of the assemblies gives priority, in the order determined by the Government, to the discussion of Government Bills and private members' Bills accepted by the Government. Priority is given at one sitting per week to the questions of members of Parliament and the replies of the Government.
  • Article 49. The Prime Minister, after deliberation in the Council of Ministers, pledges the responsibility of the Government before the National Assembly, on its programme or, if it be so decided, on a general declaration of policy. The National Assembly challenges the responsibility of the Government by passing a vote of censure. A censure motion is in order only if it is signed by at least one-tenth of the members of the National Assembly. The vote may not take place until forty-eight hours after its introduction. Only votes in favour of the censure motion are counted, and the motion is carried only if it receives the votes of the majority of the members of the Assembly. If the censure motion is rejected, its signatories may not propose a further one during the same session, except in the case provided for in the next paragraph. The Prime Minister may, after deliberation in the Council of pledge the responsibility of the Government before the National Assembly on the passing of all or part of a Bill or a motion. In this case, the Bill or part of Bill or motion is regarded as having been passed, unless a censure motion, put down within the following twenty-four hours, is passed in the conditions provided for in the previous paragraph. The Prime Minister is entitled to seek the approval of the Senate for a general statement of policy.
  • Article 50. When the National Assembly passes a motion of censure or rejects the Government's programme or a general statement of Government policy, the Prime Minister must tender to the President of the Republic the resignation of the Government.
  • Article 51. The closure of ordinary or special sessions is automatically postponed, if need be, in order to permit the application of the provisions of Article 49.

Title VI: Treaties and international agreements[edit]

  • Article 52. The President of the Republic negotiates and ratifies treaties. He is informed of the negotiation of any international agreement not subject to ratification.
  • Article 53. Peace treaties, commercial treaties, treaties or agreements concerning international organization, those which involve the State in financial obligations, modify the provisions of the law, concern personal status or involve the cession, exchange or addition of territory may be ratified or approved only by virtue of a law. They take effect only after having been ratified or approved. No cession, exchange or addition of territory is valid without the consent of the populations concerned.
  • Article 54. If the Constitutional Council, consulted by the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister or the President of either assembly, has declared that an international obligation includes a clause contrary to the Constitution, authorization to ratify or approve it may be accorded only after revision of the Constitution.
  • Article 55. Treaties or agreements regularly ratified or approved have, from the time of publication, an authority superior to that of laws, provided, in the case of each agreement or treaty, that it is applied by the other party.

Title VII: The Constitutional Council[edit]

  • Article 56. The Constitutional Council has nine members, whose term of office lasts for nine years and is not renewable. Its members are appointed by thirds every three years. Three members are nominated by the President of the Republic, three by the President of the National Assembly, three by the President of the Senate. In addition to the nine members provided for above, former Presidents of the Republic are ex officio life-members of the Constitutional Council. The President is appointed by the President of the Republic. He has a casting vote.
  • Article 57. The functions of a member of the Constitutional Council are incompatible with those of a Minister or member of Parliament. Other positions incompatible with membership of the Council are listed in an organic law.
  • Article 58. The Constitutional Council supervises the election of the President of the Republic, with a view to ensuring its regularity. It investigates objections and proclaims the result.
  • Article 59. The Constitutional Council decides, in disputed cases, on the regularity of the election of Deputies and Senators.
  • Article 60. The Constitutional Council supervises the conduct of referenda with a view to ensuring their regularity, and proclaims the results.
  • Article 61. Organic laws, before their promulgation, and the rules of procedure of the Parliamentary assemblies, before their application, must be submitted to the Constitutional Council, which pronounces on their conformity with the Constitution. For the same purpose, [ordinary] laws may be submitted to the Constitutional Council, before their promulgation, by the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister or the President of either assembly. In the cases provided for in the two preceding paragraphs, the Constitutional Council decides within a month. At the request of the Government, however, if the matter is urgent, this period may be reduced to a week. In these above-mentioned cases, reference to the Constitutional Council prolongs the period allowed for promulgation.
  • Article 62. A provision declared unconstitutional may not be promulgated or applied. Decisions of the Constitutional Council are not subject to appeal. They are binding on public authorities and on all administrative and judicial authorities.
  • Article 63. An organic law lays down the organization and methods of working of the Constitutional Council, the procedures to be followed in referring matters to it and in particular the time-limits within which disputes may be laid before it.

Title VIII: The judicial authority[edit]

  • Article 64. The President of the Republic is the protector of the independence of the judicial authority. He is assisted by the Higher Council of the Judiciary. An organic law regulates the position of the Judiciary. Judges are irremovable.
  • Article 65. The Higher Council of the Judiciary is presided over by the President of the Republic. The Minister of Justice is ex officio its Vice-President. He may deputise for the President of the Republic. The Higher Council has in addition nine members appointed by the President of the Republic in the conditions laid down by an organic law. The Higher Council of the Judiciary submits nominations for appointments to the Supreme Court of Cassation and to the posts of First President of the Court of Appeal. It gives its opinion, in conditions laid down by the organic law, on the proposals of the Minister of Justice concerning the appointment of other Judges. It is consulted on reprieves in conditions laid down by an organic law. The Higher Council of the Judiciary sits as the Disciplinary Council for Judges. It is then presided over by the First President of the Court of Cassation.
  • Article 66. None may be arbitrarily detained. The judicial authority, guardian of the liberty of the individual, ensures respect for this principle in conditions determined by the law.
  • Article 66-1. None may be condemned to the death penalty.

Title IX: The High Court of Justice[edit]

  • Article 67. A High Court of Justice is instituted. It is composed of members elected, from their own numbers and in equal parts, by the National Assembly and the Senate, after each election to these assemblies. It elects its President from among its members. An organic law determines the composition of the High Court, its rules of operation and the procedure applicable before it.
  • Article 68. The President of the Republic is responsible for actions performed in the carrying out of his duties only in case of high treason. He can be indicted only by identical motions passed by the two assemblies by open ballot and by an absolute majority of their members; he is tried by the High Court of Justice.
    Members of the Government are penally responsible for actions performed in the carrying out of their duties and classed as crimes or misdemeanours at the time when they were committed. The procedure set out above is applicable to them and to their accomplices in cases of plotting against the security of the State. In the cases provided for in this paragraph, the High Court is bound by the definitions of the crimes and misdemeanours and by the rules as to penalties to be found in the criminal laws in force at the times when the actions were performed.

Title X: The Economic and Social Council[edit]

  • Article 69. The Economic and Social Council gives its opinion, at the request of the Government, on such Government Bills, draft ordinances, draft decrees and private members' Bills as are submitted to it.
    A member of the Economic and Social Council may be appointed by the Council to appear before the parliamentary assemblies and put forward the opinion of the Council on Bills submitted to it.
  • Article 70. The Economic and Social Council may also be consulted by the Government on any economic or social problem concerning the Republic or the Community. Any plan or programme-Bill of economic or social character is submitted to it for its opinion.
  • Article 71. The composition of the Economic and Social Council and its methods of work are laid down in an organic law.

Title XI: The territorial entities[edit]

  • Article 72. The territorial entities of the Republic are the communes, the departements and the Overseas Territories. Any other territorial entity is created by law. These entities are freely administered by elected councils in conditions laid down by law. In the d‚partements and territories, the Government delegate is responsible for the interests of the nation, supervises the administration and ensures the observance of the law.
  • Article 73. The status as defined by law and the administrative organization of the Overseas departements may be modified by measures intended to adapt them to local conditions.
  • Article 74. The Overseas Territories of the Republic have a special organization which takes account of the interests of each within the framework of the general interests of the Republic. This organization is laid down and modified by law, after consultation with the Territorial Assembly of the Territory concerned.
  • Article 75. Citizens of the Republic who do not enjoy ordinary civil status, the only status to which Article 34 may be construed as referring, keep their personal status so long as they have not renounced it.
  • Article 76. Overseas Territories may keep their status within the Republic. If they express the desire to do so, by a decision of their Territorial Assembly, within the period fixed by Article 91, para. 1, they become either Overseas departements or, grouped together or separately, member States of the Community.

Title XII: The Community[edit]

  • Article 77. In the Community established by the present Constitution, the States enjoy autonomy; they administer themselves and manage their own affairs, freely and democratically. There is in the Community only one citizenship. All citizens are equal before the law, whatever their origin, race or religion. They have the same duties.
  • Article 78. The field of competence of the Community includes foreign policy, defence, currency, common economic and financial policy and policy concerning strategic raw materials. It also includes, in the absence of a special agreement to the contrary, supervision of justice, higher education, the general organization of external and common transport, and telecommunications. Special agreements may establish other common fields of competence or provide for any transfer of competence from the Community to one of its members.
  • Article 79. The member States come within the provisions of Article 77 as soon as they have made the choice provided for in Article 76. Until the coming into force of the measures necessary for the application of the present Title, matters of common competence will be dealt with by the Republic.
  • Article 80. The President of the Republic presides over and represents the Community. The latter has as its organs an Executive Council, a Senate and a Court of Arbitration.
  • Article 81. The member States of the Community take part in the election of the President in the conditions provided for in Article 6. The President of the Republic, in his capacity of President of the Community,is represented in each State of the Community.
  • Article 82. The Executive Council of the Community is presided over by the President of the Community. It is composed of the Prime Minister of the Republic, the Heads of Government of each of the member States,and the Ministers made responsible, on behalf of the Community, for common affairs. The Executive Council organises governmental and administrative co-operation between the members of the Community. The organisation and methods of work of the Executive Council are determined by an organic law.
  • Article 83. The Senate of the Community is composed of delegates chosen from among their own number by the Parliament of the Republic and the legislative assemblies of the other members. The number of delegates from each State is fixed in a manner which takes account of its population and of the responsibilities which it assumes within the Community. It holds two sessions a year, which are opened and closed by the President of the Community and may not last longer than one month each. At the request of the President, it discusses common economic and financial policy before the Parliament of the Republic and, in appropriate circumstances, the legislative assemblies of other members of the Community pass laws in this field. The Senate of the Community considers the acts, international agreements, and treaties referred to in Articles 35 and 53, where these involve obligations for the Community. It takes binding decisions in the fields in which power has been delegated to it by the legislative assemblies of members of theCommunity. The decisions are promulgated in the States concerned in the same ways as the laws of the territories. An organic law determines its composition and the rules under which it functions.
  • Article 84. A Court of Arbitration of the Community gives rulings on disputes between members of the Community. Its composition and powers are determined by an organic law.
  • Article 85. Notwithstanding the procedure provided for in Article 89, the provisions of the present Title concerning the functioning of the common institutions of the Community are revised by laws couched in the same terms passed by the Parliament of the Republic and by the Senate of the Community.
  • Article 86. A change of the status of a member State of the Community may be requested either by the Republic, or by a resolution of the legislative assembly of the State concerned, confirmed by a local referendum, organized and supervised by the institutions of the Community. The methods by which the change of status is made are determined by an agreement approved by the Parliament of the Republic and the legislative assembly concerned. In the same manner, a member State of the Community may become independent. It thereby ceases to belong to the Community.
  • Article 87. Special agreements concluded in application of the present title require the approval of the Parliament of the Republic and of the legislative assembly concerned.

Title XIII: Agreements of association[edit]

  • Article 88. The Republic or the Community may conclude agreements with States desiring to form an association with either, in order to develop their civilizations.

Title XIV: Revision[edit]

  • Article 89. The right to propose amendments to the Constitution belongs concurrently to the President of the Republic, on the proposal of the Prime Minister, and to members of Parliament. The amending project or proposal must be passed by the two assemblies in the identical terms. The amendment becomes effective when it has been approved by referendum. However, the amending project is not submitted to a referendum when the President of the Republic decides to submit it to Parliament, meeting as Congress; in this case the amendment is accepted only if it obtains a majority of three-fifths of the votes cast. The Bureau of the Congress is that of the National Assembly. The amendment procedure may not be initiated or pursued when the integrity of the territory is under attack. The Republican form of government is not subject to revision.

Title X: Transitional arrangements[edit]

  • Article 90. The ordinary session of Parliament is suspended. The term of office of the members of the present National Assembly will expire on the day the Assembly elected by virtue of the present Constitution meets. Until this meeting, only the Government has authority to summon Parliament. The term of office of the members of the Assembly of the French Union will expire at the same time as the term of the members of the present National Assembly.
  • Article 91. The institutions of the Republic provided for in the present Constitution will be set up within a period of four months from the day of its promulgation. This period is extended to six months for the institutions of the Community. The powers of the present President of the Republic will expire only on the proclamation of the results of the election provided for in Articles 6 and 7 of the present Constitution. The member States of the Community will take part in this first election in conditions appropriate to their status at the date of the promulgation of the Constitution. The established authorities will continue to exercise their functions in these States in accordance with the laws and other instruments applicable on the date at which the Constitution enters into force, until the installation of the authorities provided for by their new form of government. Until its constitution has been finally determined, the Senate consists of the present members of the Council of the Republic. The organic laws which will determine the final constitution of the Senate must come into existence before July 31, 1959. The powers conferred on the Constitutional Council by Articles 58 and 59 of the Constitution will be exercised, until the installation of the Council, by a Commission composed of the Vice-President of the Council of State as chairman, the First President of the Court of Cassation and the First President of the Court of Accounts. The peoples of the member States of the Community continue to be represented in Parliament until the coming into force of the measures necessary for the application of Title XII.
  • Article 92. The legislative measures necessary for the installation of the institutions and, until that installation, for the functioning of the public authorities, will be taken in the Council of Ministers, after consultation with the Council of State, by ordinances having the force of law. During the period prescribed in the first paragraph of Article 91 the Government is authorized to determine, by ordinances having the force of law and issued in the same form, the electoral system for the assemblies provided for by the Constitution. During the same period and in the same conditions, the Government may also take, on any subject, such measures as it may consider necessary to the life of the nation, the protection of the citizens or the preservation of freedom. The present law will be applied as the Constitution of the Republic and of the Community.