Prime Minister of France

Prime Minister of the French Republic
Premier ministre de la République française
Armoiries république française.svg
Emblem of the French Republic
Portrait Jean Castex (cropped).jpg
Jean Castex

since 3 July 2020
StyleMr Prime Minister
His Excellency
TypeHead of government
Member of
Reports toPresident
ResidenceHôtel de Matignon
SeatParis, France
Term lengthNo term limit
Constituting instrumentConstitution of France
PrecursorSeveral titles were used since the Ancien Régime
Inaugural holderMichel Debré
Formation4 October 1958 (1958-10-04)
Salary€178,920 annually[1]

The prime minister of France (French: Premier ministre français), officially the prime minister of the French Republic, is the head of government of the French Republic and the leader of the Council of Ministers.

The prime minister is the holder of the second-highest office in France, after the president of France. The president, who appoints but cannot dismiss the prime minister, can ask for their resignation. The Government of France, including the prime minister, can be dismissed by the National Assembly. Upon appointment, the prime minister proposes a list of ministers to the president. Decrees and decisions signed by the prime minister, like almost all executive decisions, are subject to the oversight of the administrative court system. Some decrees are taken after advice from the Council of State (French: Conseil d'État), over which the prime minister is entitled to preside. Ministers defend the programmes of their ministries to the prime minister, who makes budgetary choices. The extent to which those decisions lie with the prime minister or president often depends upon whether they are of the same political party. If so, the president may serve as both the head of state and de facto head of government, while the prime minister serves as his deputy.

Jean Castex was appointed prime minister of France by President Emmanuel Macron on 3 July 2020. He presented his government three days later. He replaced Édouard Philippe who resigned on the latter date.


The prime minister is appointed by the president of France, who is theoretically free to pick whomever he pleases for the post. In practice, because the National Assembly does have the power to force the resignation of the government by adopting a motion of censure, the choice of prime minister must reflect the will of the majority in the National Assembly. Notably, immediately after the legislative election of 1986, President François Mitterrand had to appoint Jacques Chirac as prime minister although Chirac was a member of the Rally for the Republic and therefore a political opponent of Mitterrand. While Mitterrand's Socialist Party was the largest party in the National Assembly, it did not have an absolute majority. The RPR had an alliance with the Union for French Democracy, which gave them a majority. Such a situation, in which the president is forced to work with a prime minister who is a political opponent, is called a cohabitation.

While prime ministers are usually chosen from amongst the ranks of the National Assembly, on rare occasions the president has selected a non-officeholder because of their experience in bureaucracy or foreign service, or their success in business management—Dominique de Villepin, most notably, served as prime minister from 2005 to 2007 without ever having held elected office.

Although the president's choice of prime minister must be in accordance with the majority in the National Assembly, a prime minister does not have to ask for a vote of confidence after their government's formation. They can base their legitimacy on the president's assignment as prime minister and approval of the government. However, it is traditionally expected that the government seeks a motion of confidence upon entering office.


According to article 21 of the Constitution,[2] the prime minister "shall direct the actions of the Government". Additionally, Article 20[2] stipulates that the government "shall determine and conduct the policy of the Nation", and it includes domestic issues, while the president concentrates on formulating directions on national defense and foreign policy while arbitrating the efficient service of all governmental authorities in France. Other members of the government are appointed by the president "on the recommendation of the prime minister". In practice the prime minister acts in harmony with the president to whom he is a subordinate, except when there is a cohabitation. In such cases, a constitutional convention gives the prime minister primacy in domestic affairs, while the president oversees foreign affairs. His responsibilities, then, are akin to those of a prime minister in a parliamentary system.

The prime minister can "engage the responsibility" of their government before the National Assembly. This process consists of placing a bill before the assembly, and either the assembly overthrows the government, or the bill is passed automatically (article 49).[2] In addition to ensuring that the government still has support in the house, some bills that might prove too controversial to pass through the normal assembly rules are able to be passed this way.

The prime minister may also submit a bill that has not been yet signed into law to the Constitutional Council (article 61).[2] Before they are allowed to dissolve the assembly, the president has to consult the prime minister and the presidents of both houses of Parliament (article 12).[2] They are, as the representative of the government, the only member of the government able to introduce legislation in Parliament.


Official reception at Hôtel Matignon.

Under the Third Republic, the French Constitutional Laws of 1875 titled the head of government as the "President of the Council of Ministers" (French: Président du Conseil des Ministres), though he was informally called "prime minister" or "premier" outside of France.

The president of the council was vested with similar formal powers to those of the prime minister of the United Kingdom. In practice, however, this proved insufficient to command the confidence of France's multi-party parliament. Most notably, the legislature had the power to force the entire cabinet out of office by a vote of censure. As a result, cabinets were often toppled twice a year, and there were long stretches where France was left with only a caretaker government. Under the circumstances, the president of the council was usually a fairly weak figure whose strength was more dependent on charisma than formal powers. Often, he was little more than primus inter pares, and was more the cabinet's chairman than its leader.

After several unsuccessful attempts to strengthen the role in the first half of the twentieth century, a semi-presidential system was introduced under the Fifth Republic. It was at this point that the post was formally named "Prime Minister" and took its present form. The 1958 Constitution includes several provisions intended to strengthen the prime minister's position, for instance by restricting the legislature's power to censure the government. As a result, a prime minister has only been censured once during the existence of the Fifth Republic, in 1962 when Georges Pompidou was toppled over objections to President Charles de Gaulle's effort to have the president popularly elected. However, at the ensuing 1962 French legislative election, de Gaulle's coalition won an increased majority, and Pompidou was reappointed prime minister.


The current officeholder is Jean Castex, who was appointed on 3 July 2020.

Fifth Republic records

Length of the successive governments of the French Fifth Republic
  • The only person to serve as prime minister more than once under the Fifth Republic was Jacques Chirac (1974–1976 and 1986–1988).
  • The youngest appointed prime minister was Laurent Fabius, on 17 July 1984. He was 37 years old.
  • The oldest appointed prime minister was Pierre Bérégovoy, on 2 April 1992. He was 66 years old.
  • The only woman who was appointed at the head of government is Édith Cresson, prime minister from 1991 to 1992.
  • Two prime ministers were mayor of Bordeaux, and at the same time prime minister, Jacques Chaban-Delmas (1969–1972) and Alain Juppé (1995–1997).
  • The longest-serving prime minister was Georges Pompidou, 6 years, 2 months and 26 days, from 1962 to 1968.
  • The shortest-serving prime minister was Bernard Cazeneuve, 5 months and 4 days, from 2016 to 2017.
  • Three prime ministers were born abroad: Édouard Balladur in İzmir, Turkey, Dominique de Villepin in Rabat, Morocco and Manuel Valls in Barcelona, Spain.

Living former prime ministers of France

See also


  1. ^ " Pay Check". IG.
  2. ^ a b c d e "French National Assembly – Assemblée nationale". Archived from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2012.

External links

Media files used on this page

Armoiries république française.svg
Author/Creator: Bonjour vive la France Dessiné par Jérôme BLUM le 5 septembre 2007. Készítette: Jérôme BLUM 2007., Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0 fr
unofficial armorial bearings of the French republic, created from France coa.png. (The only official emblem of France is its tricolour flag).
Edith Cresson2.png
Author/Creator: Jef-Infojef, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Edith Cresson, prime minister of France
Launch Republique Solidaire 2010-06-19 n04.jpg
Author/Creator: Marie-Lan Nguyen, Licence: CC BY 2.5
Dominique de Villepin at the launch of his new party, République Solidaire. Paris, Halle Freyssinet.
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The arms of the French Republic (non-official)
Jean-Pierre Raffarin par Claude Truong-Ngoc 2013 (cropped 2).jpg
Author/Creator: Claude TRUONG-NGOC, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Jean-Pierre Raffarin, ancien premier ministre et vice président du Sénat
Alain Juppé à Québec (cropped 2) (cropped).jpg
Author/Creator: Florencecassisi, Licence: CC BY 4.0
Alain Juppé à Québec
Jean-Marc Ayrault Sebastian Kurz Vienna May 2016 (27089337295) (cropped).jpg
Author/Creator: Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Bundesminister Sebastian Kurz trifft den französischen Außenminister Jean-Marc Ayrault. Wien, 17.05.2016, Foto: Dragan Tatic
François Fillon 2010.jpg
Author/Creator: Marie-Lan Nguyen, Licence: CC BY 3.0
François Fillon at the UMP launch rally of the 2010 French regional elections campaign in Paris.
Lionel Jospin, mai 2014, Rennes, France (cropped).jpg
Author/Creator: Édouard Hue (User:EdouardHue), Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Lionel Jospin en conférence à l'espace Ouest-France de Rennes le 14 mai 2014 pour la présentation de son livre « le mal napoléonien. »
Édouard Philippe 2019 (cropped).jpg
Author/Creator: Jacques Paquier, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Édouard Philippe lors de l'inauguration du Tribunal de Paris le 1 Avril 2019.
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Author/Creator: Original : Dutch National Archives ; Cropping and cleaning : User:Flappiefh, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0 nl
French finance minister Edouard Balladur in Ootmarsum
Portrait Jean Castex (cropped).jpg
Author/Creator: Florian DAVID, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Jean Castex, Premier ministre, lors de la déclaration de politique générale le 15 juillet 2020 à l'Assemblée nationale.
Laurent Fabius at Munich Security Conference (cropped).jpg
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes remarks on February 8, 2015, during a panel discussion with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]
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Length of french governments under the Fifth Republic in days
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Hotel de Matignon during official occasion