HOW IT WORKS...
France has a semi-presidential system, with the public voting in the president for a term of five years and, shortly afterwards, voting in constituency representatives or députés (i.e MPs) to the Assemblée Nationale through the legislative elections.
Like the House of Commons, the National Assembly votes on legislation and is therefore a control on the actions of the president and the prime minister, although the president has the power to dissolve the National Assembly at any time.
The French government comprises the president, the prime minister, the Constitutional Council (made up of former French presidents and nine elected members who stand for nine years) and the Council of Ministers.
• Parliament, on the other hand, includes the National Assembly in the lower house and the Senate in the upper house (equivalent to the House of Lords). The 577 members of the National Assembly are directly voted in by the French people on a one-seat-perconstituency basis for the five-year term (289 seats are required for a majority), while the 346 members of the Senate are voted in for a six-year period by the 150,000-plus local elected officials throughout France.