could the Russian invasion be a reason to postpone the presidential elections in France?

Less than two months before the presidential election in France, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is overshadowing the campaign’s debates. The war waged by Vladimir Putin’s troops is turning even the candidates’ agendas upside down. Emmanuel Macron, who was declared late on Thursday, March 3, canceled his meeting scheduled for Saturday in Marseille. So, could the war in Ukraine also disrupt the date of the presidential election? The question was asked in particular on the set of Cnews, which received Debout La France candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan on Tuesday.

Follow the latest information about the war in Ukraine in our live

For the time being, it is not a question of wondering what the consequences will be of a possible entry into the war by France, but of considering the possible effects of the Russian offensive on the French election calendar. USAThe latter is strictly enshrined in the Constitution. Article 6 provides for the term of office of the head of state, “elected for five years by direct universal suffrage”. Article 7 provides that the election must happen “not less than twenty days and not more than thirty-five days before the expiry of the powers of the President in office.”

BEE short term there is an option. “The end of Emmanuel Macron’s mandate must take place on May 13. There were only two options” [pour organiser les deux tours du scrutin] : LApril 10 and 24 or April 17 and May 1 explains to franceinfo André Roux, professor of public law at the University of Aix-Marseille. The government chose the first dates. The only option would therefore be to postpone the presidential elections for a week. However, Olivier Dord, professor of public law at the University of Paris-Nanterre, believes that “In the situation of the war in Ukraine, which is likely to last, it is difficult to see what the point of such a delay would be.”

In France, other elections have already been postponed. In 2020, the government had chosen to postpone the second round of municipal elections for several weeks due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The departmental and regional of 2021 was postponed by a week due to the health crisis. “For local elections, the government has much more flexibility, points out André Roux. The dates of these elections and the duration of the local mandates are not determined by the Constitution, but by organic laws and decrees.

In fact, local elections can be postponed through a decree or the vote of a law by the parliament. But the adoption of a law would not be enough to change the date of the presidential elections, and thus not extend the mandate of the incumbent head of state de facto. Indeed, it is not legally possible to vote in favor of a text that would violate the rules laid down in the Constitution, which all laws must comply with

An exception is provided for in Article 7: the Constitutional Council may decide to postpone it if theone of the candidates dies or is prevented from attending”. However, this concept of hindrance has no precise definition in the law. Constitutionalists agree that it could be for a physical reason, such as a coma or kidnapping.

In contrast, impediment for other reasons is the subject of recurring discussion. “The question arose in 2017 with François Fillon, who could have been considered prevented from developing his candidacy” after the revelations about his wife’s business of fictitious jobs, Olivier Dord underlines.

“In all cases, it is the Constitutional Council that decides on this impediment.”

Olivier Dord, professor of public law at the University of Paris-Nanterre

at franceinfo

There is no way to postpone the presidential election for any other reason. “A war situation or a health crisis does not fall within the framework of the hypotheses provided for by the Constitution”, explains André Roux. sour colleague Olivier Dord agrees: “The conflict in Ukraine will not hinder the conduct of the elections in France. The only assumptions of change are inherent in the organization of the vote itself.” The constitutionalist is also surprised at the repetition of the fear of delay among the French. “The question had already arisen before the Covid-19 pandemic, but it was not possible.”

For these experts, only a constitutional amendment could theoretically allow for a postponement of the vote. “The organization of the presidential elections is largely laid down in the constitution. To be able to change the dates of the elections [au-delà d’une semaine]it must be changed” sections 6 and 7, explains André Roux.

Didier Mauss, President of theThe French Constitutional Law Association confirms this analysis. “on a theoretical level”this case “is not impossible” This would require the draft constitutional amendment to be passed by the National Assembly and the Senate, with a three-fifths majority of the votes cast. Or that the reform is approved by referendum. But we have no reason to emphasizes this specialist in constitutional law.

“Today there is no obstacle to holding the presidential elections well. Moreover, this could only be thought if there was an agreement between all political forces, which is not the case at all.”

Didier Mauss, constitutionalist

at franceinfo

The government has already experienced several failures in constitutional reform projects. Entangled in the Benalla affair, the executive withdrew for the first time in 2018, on a text providing for the reduction of the number of MPs, the limitation of the accumulation of mandates over time and the introduction of a dose proportional to the legislature elections. † Then a second time, in July 2021, on the inclusion of environmental protection in the Constitution. A project halted due to lack of agreement with the Senate.