French Politics

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 21–41 | Cite as

Four rounds in a row: The impact of presidential election outcomes on legislative elections in France

  • Elisabeth Dupoirier
  • Nicolas Sauger
Original Article


This article focuses on the consequences of presidential election outcomes on legislative election results in the context of the French semi-presidential regime. Through an analysis based on aggregated national- and constituency-level data, it shows that presidential elections do have an impact on legislative elections. Furthermore, this impact is proven to affect the balance between presidential majority and opposition coalitions and between core and fringe parties. The 2000 and 2002 reforms aligning presidential and National Assembly mandates and instituting a situation of repeated honeymoon elections significantly decrease the likelihood of any future period of cohabitation between a president and an Assembly from opposing partisan coalitions. They also foster presidentialization and explain the relative decrease in fragmentation within the party system.


election timing France electoral cycle honeymoon/midterm elections semi-presidentialism 


  1. Carcassonne, G. (1995) La primauté de l’élection présidentielles. In: N. Wahl and J.-L. Quermonne (eds.) La France présidentielle: L’influence du suffrage universel sur la vie politique. Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, pp. 31–45.Google Scholar
  2. Cox, G. (1997) Making Votes Count: Strategic Coordination in the World's Electoral Systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dolez, B. and Laurent, A. (2009) Strategic voting in legislative majority runoff elections in a semi-presidential system. The 2007 French legislative elections (mimeo).Google Scholar
  4. Elgie, R. (2002) La cohabitation de longue durée: Studying the 1997–2002 experience. Modern & Contemporary France 10 (3): 297–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Jérôme, B., Jérôme-Speziari, V. and Lewis-Beck, M. (2003) Reordering the French election calendar: Forecasting the consequences for 2002. European Journal of Political Research 42: 425–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Parodi, J.-L. (1997) Proportionnalité périodique, cohabitation et atomisation partisane: Un triple défi pour le régime semi-présidentiel de la Vème République. Revue Française de Science Politique 47 (3–4): 292–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Poguntke, T. and Webb, P. (eds.) (2005) The Prezidentialization of Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Sauger, N. (2009) The French party system: Fifty years of change. In: S. Brouard, A. Appleton, and A. Mazur (eds.) The Fifth Republic at Fifty. London: Palgrave, pp. 79–98.Google Scholar
  9. Shugart, M. and Carey, J. (1992) Presidents and Assemblies Constitutional Design and Electoral Dynamics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Smith, A. (2004) Election Timing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sciences Po – CEVIPOFParisFrance
  2. 2.Sciences Po – CEEParisFrance

Personalised recommendations