The French Parliament is bicameral: it is made up of the National Assembly, the lower house and the Senate, the upper house. These two assemblies jointly hold legislative power, which allows them, to a certain extent, to control the political life of the country. This article will introduce you to the procedure for obtaining a senator's mandate.
Part 1 of 2: Getting into politics
Step 1. Know the role of a senator
Start by learning about the roles and responsibilities of a senator, to ensure that this position meets your expectations and aspirations. The mandate of senator requires maturity and patience, as well as a marked interest in the political and legislative life of the country.
- The senators are above all and jointly with the members of the National Assembly, in charge of voting the laws. Laws can be proposed by the Government, the National Assembly or the Senate.
- The senators also exercise control over the action of the Government. It exercises this control jointly with the National Assembly, vis-à-vis which it is nevertheless here in a position of inferiority. Parliamentarians are empowered, among other things, to publicly question members of the Government, to authorize a declaration of war, to create a parliamentary commission of inquiry.
- Senators represent local authorities, departments and overseas territories, as well as French people living outside France.
Step 2. Keep up to date with the news
Keep up to date with French and international news, and in particular French and European political news. Find out from different sources: newspapers, websites, television.
Debating political issues with a friend who doesn't share your political views is a good way to sharpen your debating skills, without being hurtful or taking the discussion too seriously
Step 3. Form your political opinions
You probably already have an opinion on certain topics. Then try to support these opinions with solid arguments by educating yourself in depth about the details of these issues. Determine which topics are most important to you and how they should be handled.
Also, keep in mind that in order to get elected you will need to present your real views, not just say what people want to hear. This will build a base of loyal voters. By lying to achieve the position of senator, you would lose your seat in the next election
Step 4. Get involved locally
If you can relate to the ideals and actions of a political party, seek to get involved with that party at the local level. If you prefer to remain independent, familiarize yourself with local political life by volunteering for the organization of local elections or by getting involved in local community life.
- Many associations are constantly looking for volunteers or new members. Look for an association whose actions correspond to your commitments (preferably choose a theme that will be voted on in Parliament the following year) and get involved.
- If you do not have enough time to devote to such a commitment, attend city council meetings and hearings and keep abreast of political decisions made locally, in your county and region.
Step 5. Study
To be a senator, no specific training or diploma is required. However, certain training courses facilitate access to this function. Study law and / or political science in order to be able to better understand the themes debated in the Senate and the responsibilities that you will be entrusted with.
Step 6. Build Your Career
If your professional life does not condition, with a few exceptions (see next section), your ability to be elected senator, you should know that many elected parliamentarians have acquired the respect of citizens and developed valuable connections during their professional career. The careers of lawyer and businessman are generally the most rewarding for obtaining a seat of senator.
Part 2 of 2: Getting elected
Step 1. Make sure you meet the conditions
To be a candidate in an election, you will still have to meet certain conditions. These conditions differ slightly depending on the mandate sought. Here are the conditions you will need to meet to run for a Senate election:
- be of French nationality
- be 24 years of age or older at the time of elections
- enjoy your civil and political rights. The loss of these rights can be pronounced within the framework of a criminal conviction
- not find you in any of the cases of incapacity provided for by law
- not find yourself in any of the cases of ineligibility provided for by the electoral code. Certain conditions will in fact prevent a citizen from standing in a senatorial election. These conditions fall into two categories:
- those related to the person: person placed under supervision, deprived of his civic rights, prohibited from managing, elected officials having violated the rules relating to campaign accounts or declaration of assets, persons in personal bankruptcy
- those linked to functions: some functions cannot be combined with the post of senator. Here are a few: defenders of rights, prefects, magistrates, officers, rectors, territorial officials. This ineligibility may be limited to the department where the person performs his duties or extend to the entire territory and may also vary in time. Also note that a substitute who replaced a parliamentarian appointed to the Government cannot stand against him in the next election.
Step 2. Get involved in an election campaign
Once you have acquired some knowledge of local politics and the proper training, get involved in a political election. Now is not the time for you to introduce yourself. Your role will then be to work on the election of a candidate with whom you are politically close, in order to fully understand the different aspects of an election.
Step 3. Go to the voters' meeting
Once you think you are ready to run for office yourself, you will need to gain the support of a wide variety of people. Start by telling your friends and family about your ambitions, then connect with citizens and organizations in your city and region.
Step 4. Learn about the laws governing political campaign financing
A political campaign can be very expensive. The financing of political campaigns is, in France, framed by strict regulations. In order to avoid certain abuses, the financing of a political campaign must indeed meet certain transparency requirements.
- To learn about the laws governing the financing of a political campaign, seek advice from a more experienced member of your political party.
- Note that the law specifically governing the financing of a senatorial election campaign is the law of July 10, 2000, available for consultation
Step 5. Run for a lesser election
Getting elected to a more humble political position than a senator's post will allow you to gain experience, get noticed and develop your network. Then run for a municipal or cantonal election. Then gradually seek more and more important positions, until you feel ready for a senatorial election.
Step 6. Run for the Senate
In France, senators are elected according to an indirect voting system. In each department, an electoral college is in fact in charge of the election of senators.
- This electoral college is made up of deputies and senators from the department, regional councilors from the corresponding departmental section, general councilors, delegates from general councilors or their deputies and delegates elected from among municipal councilors, the number of which varies according to the number of inhabitants of the municipality.
- If you manage to get yourself elected as a senator, be aware that you will only be able to combine this mandate with one other mandate (general, regional, mayor or deputy mayor). You will then have 30 days to free yourself from your other mandates. From the first renewal of the Senate following March 31, 2017, the senator's mandate will be incompatible with local executive functions.
- When a senator's seat becomes vacant, he is replaced, as the case may be, either by his appointed replacement or by the first unelected candidate from his list. In some cases, by-elections can be organized.