.. portance over the legislative branch. The legislative branch is the Parliament. It consists of two housesthe National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly has 577 deputies who are elected for five years by direct universal suffrage. They have the final say in any issue that is being debated.

They can accept the Senates version of bill of they may adopt their own. The constitution limits the National Assembly to 2 regular sessions a year. The Senate is made up of 321 members who are elected for nine years through an indirect system using an electoral college. They are the advisory body that has the right to examine and render opinions on legislation and policies initiated in the National Assembly. The Assembly is the more powerful of the two houses. There is a hierarchy of courts in the French judicial system. Civil cases are tried in higher and lower courts, criminal cases are tried in courts of correction, and minor offenses are tried in police courts.

The administrative courts, which are under the control the Council of State, examine cases on appeal. The police and the “gendarmaerie” maintain public law and order. All of these courts are subject to the control of the Court of Cassation. Very exceptionally, in cases of high treason, a High Court of Justice composed of members of the National Assembly and of senators is empowered to try the president of the republic and the ministers. This court can also try them if they have committed felonies or misdemeanors during their term of office.

The National School of Magistracy recruits more than 5,000 judges by means of competitive examinations. Judges can serve successively as members of the bench and the public prosecutors department. Local Government France is divided into 22 regions for planning, budgetary policy and national development. Within the mainland regions are 95 departments. Each department has a main town and is run by a general council that includes a commissioner representing the national government and also a local president. The departments are divided into smaller units called “arrondissements”.

These in turn are subdivided into “communes,” or townships. There are about 36,500 communes in France, ranging in size from small villages to entire cities. Mayors elected by local municipal councils run the communes. One of the mayors duties is to perform marriages. In France, stability is provided both nationally and locally by a “political class” of men and women whose entire working lives are spent as professionals in government service.

Governmental Services and Budget Besides things such as roadways, and police and fire protection, France provides universal social protection to its citizens regardless of income. This Social Security service was created in 1945. It finances or largely reimburses the health care expenditures of 58 million inhabitants. Both employers and workers finance national health insurance mainly through mandatory contributions. Overall, France is the fourth exporting nation in the world.

They rank first in sales of luxury goods and second in exporting. Their yearly budget is approximately 265 billion dollars. Regarding Frances military, their total armed forces are numbered at 358,800 troops. Of these troops 203,200 serve in the army, 63,300 in the navy, 78,100 in the airforce, and the remainder serve in strategic nuclear forces or in central staff positions. France requires all men between the ages of 18 and 35 to do national service for 10 months.

Politics The current leader of France is president, Jacques Chirac. He founded the Rally for the Republic political party. In France one must be the age of 18 to vote for officals such as the president. When a Franciscan reaches the age of 18, their are many political parties that they may choose to vote with. The concept of Left and Right in describing political parties stems from the French Revolution.

At that time, the radicals sat on the left side of the assembly and the conservatives sat on the right. Today, about five major political parties span the French spectrum from left to right. On the left are the Socialist Party and the smaller Communist Party. On the right are the Rally for the Republic (RPR), the Union for French Democracy (UDF) and the extremely conservative National Front. The leftist parties support public ownership or control of most industries. The rightist parties want less government regulation of the economy. The RPR favors free enterprise but also a strong national government, a strong military and an independent foreign policy.

The National Front (FN) strongly opposes immigration. Labor unions and the Green Party also exert pressure on the government. In general, French liberals and conservatives today both believe in “big government.” When civic and economic problems arise, most citizens expect the government to take care of them. Foreign Relations France is a leader in Western Europe because of its size, location, strong economy, membership in European organizations, strong military posture, and energetic diplomacy. France has generally worked to strengthen the global economic and political influence of the European Union and its role in common European defense.

France is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). France rejoined NATO in 1995, after French military forces had withdrawn from the NATO command. France has also supplied troops for the United Nations peacekeeping operations in Cambodia, Somalia, and the former Yugoslavia. France is currently the 4th leading contributor to the UN budget. In 1994, France paid out $101.4 million in assessed contributions and $995 million in voluntary contributions to institutions in the UN system. Currently in Middle Eastern, African and Asian countries with which France has long had friendly relations with are involved in regional conflicts. Because of these past ties, France is taking an active part in international efforts to find a fair solution.

Future The people of France are looking towards a great future. They are currently awaiting the acceptance of a new currency, the Euro. This currency will be instated all through out Europe hoping to make the traveling between countries less difficult. Such a youthful population means an urgent demand for better schools to train young people in the skills needed in todays world. It necessitates creating new jobs to bring millions of young men and women into productive careers.

It results in the great deal of purchasing power in the hands of teenagers and young adults. These are buyers who want to enjoy what they can get now, who are confident of tomorrow, and whose tastes show a willingness to experiment, to sample the new, and to use up and replace goods. Since the late 1950s, life in France has indeed taken on qualities of rush, tension, and the pursuit of material gain. Some of the strongest critics of the new way of life are the young, especially university students. They are concerned with the future and they fear that France is threatened by the triumph of competitive, goods-oriented culture.

Regardless of what some French citizens may think, France is doing very well, and will continue on improving technologically and industrially in the future. Conclusion France is a very interesting and unique country. Due to the lengthy history of the origination of France, they have many fascinating features. Their government is in many ways similar to the United States government. The three branches of government do their best to help make and carry out the law. Not only is France a beautiful country, it is also the home to many interesting people.

It is a very prestigious nation that is constantly changing and growing economically and politically. France will continue to have strong international influence and will strive to keep on forming and carrying out policy that will benefit their country and the rest of the world. Works Cited Dell, Dick, ed. People and Places. Vol.

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Famighettie, Robert, ed. World Almanac Books. New Jersey: World Almanac Books, 1997. “France.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 1998 ed. Lands and Peoples.

Vol. 3. Connecticut: Grolier Educational, 1999. Murphy, C. “France Almost Goes Capitalist.” Fortune 21 September 1999: 46-48. Sancton, T.A.

“French revolution.” TIME October 1999: 76. World Mark Encyclopeida of the Nations. Edition 7. New York: Worldmark Press, LTD. 1988.