The current French Constitution was adopted on October 4th, 1958 and established the Fifth Republic. It has been in longer use now than any other constitution in France except the one which established the Third Republic (1875-1940).

Here is the text in French. Each chapter is accompanied by a short summary in English. Copyrighted translations in Spanish, German and English are available at http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/textes/c1958web.htm.

This node contains the Preamble, the 1st article and links to the other chapters or "titles". First of all, here are a few interesting points:

  • The word "Dieu" (God) does not appear in the document. The only mention of religion is made in the first article, which states that "all citizens are equal with no distinction of origin, race or religion". (I never heard a French politician pronounce the name of God in public.)
  • Art. 2 states that France has an official language.
  • Equality between men and women is strongly supported by the Constitution. Because of a recent modification in Art.1, a law about parity in electoral lists has been adopted.
  • The President is elected directly by the citizens since 1962. As Art. 6 says, the Presidential mandate has been reduced from 7 to 5 years a few months ago.
  • The Constitution has been revised 15 times since 1958, nine times in the last ten years, four times in the last three years. Therefore it is useful to mention that this version was last updated in April 2001.

Préambule

Preamble
The Preamble refers to the Human Rights Declaration (the French one as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), and curiously says that overseas territories can, if they wish, join the Republic.

Le peuple français proclame solennellement son attachement aux Droits de l'homme et aux principes de la souveraineté nationale tels qu'ils ont été définis par la Déclaration de 1789, confirmée et complétée par le préambule de la Constitution de 1946.

En vertu de ces principes et de celui de la libre détermination des peuples, la République offre aux territoires d'Outre-Mer qui manifestent la volonté d'y adhérer des institutions nouvelles fondées sur l'idéal commun de liberté, d'égalité et de fraternité et conçues en vue de leur évolution démocratique.

Article 1

1st Article says that "France is an indivisible, laic, democratic and social Republic. It ensures the equality of all the citizen in front of the law with no distinction of origin, race or religion. It respects all the beliefs.

La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale. Elle assure l'égalité devant la loi de tous les citoyens sans distinction d'origine, de race ou de religion. Elle respecte toutes les croyances.

Title 1: Of Sovereignty

Title 2: The President of the Republic

Title 3: The Government

Title 4: The Parliament

Title 5: The Relationship between the Government and the Parliament

Title 6: Treaties and international agreements

Title 7: The Constitutional Council

Title 8: The justice authority

Title 9: The High Court of Justice

Title 10: Penal responsibility of the members of the government

Title 11: The Economic and Social Council

Title 12: The Territorial Collectivities

Title 13: Temporary Measures Related To New Caledonia

Title 14: Of Association Agreements

Title 15: The European Communities and the European Union

Title 16: The Revision

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