The Longest Night: Polemics and Perspectives on Election 2000

By Arthur J. Jacobson; Michel Rosenfeld | Go to book overview
Save to active project

reliable and rigorous system than the American system. In 1980 MarieFrance Toinet, a French political scientist specializing in the United States, 69 already noted how dissatisfied the Americans were with their presidential election process, seen by many as an “old badly maintained machine.U +201D She quoted several critical comments denouncing the fact that the result of the election of the president of the United States “is the effect of chance, money, advertising and luck.” 70 Neither chance nor luck should come into play in France, where the presidential election system claims to be perfectly under control from the beginning to the end of the electoral process.

Even so, this system is not wholly protected from unpredictable events like those involved in the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore. The paradox is that the Constitutional Council is at even greater risk than the U.S. Supreme Court, which apparently did not actually have to rule directly on the election itself but could have left it to Congress. In France, this would not be possible. The Constitutional Council is bound by the Constitution to have the last word. If it has doubts as to the results, it must consider every possible and every conceivable legal argument and then come to a final decision. The principles of electoral law in this situation should prompt it to annul the election. But can one ever know in advance what a supreme or constitutional court will decide to do in a given political configuration? “I never promised you a rose garden. I never promised you a perfect justice, wrote the American author Hannah Green. All we can hope is that an electoral court that is forced to intervene directly in such a political process (a situation that the Constitutional Council has not experienced since it was established) will above all resist the temptation of politicization.

France, a unitary state, comprises three territorial levels of administration: the commune, whose decision-making body is the municipal council chaired by the mayor; the department, whose decision-making body is the general council; and the region, whose decision-making body is the regional council. All these territorial bodies are elected by direct universal suffrage.
Article 15 of the Declaration of Human and Civic Rights of 1789, which is part of the “corpus of constitutional law” in France, provides expressly that “Society has the right to ask a public official to give an account of his administration.”
Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 370 (1886).
See in particular Decision 89–271 of January 11, 1990, on the law concerning the limitation of electoral expenditure and the clarification of the financing of the political activities, Recueil, 21.
See Noëlle Lenoir, “Parity in France, or Increasing Women's Electoral Representation, U +201D International and Comparative Law Quarterly, April 18, 2001.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Longest Night: Polemics and Perspectives on Election 2000
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 417

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?