How France's parliament is elected
France votes on 16 June in the final round of key legislative elections in which President Jacques Chirac hopes to regain a parliamentary majority. Here we outline the rules and process.
The elections will choose the 577 members of the country's National Assembly and these 'deputies' are elected by direct universal suffrage for five-year terms.
A candidate can be elected outright in the first round if he or she wins an absolute majority of valid votes cast, and if at least 25 percent of registered voters cast their ballots.
If no one prevails in the first round, the two frontrunners and any other candidate garnering the support of more than 12.5 percent of the registered electorate move into the second round, set for June 16.
In the decisive run-off, a relative majority is enough to secure victory.
If two candidates win an equal number of votes in the second round, the older of the two wins the assembly seat.
ld, registered voters and have satisfied national service requirements.
Each deputy has a substitute who serves as his replacement in the case of death, or nomination to either a ministerial post or France's highest court, the Constitutional Council.
If parliamentary deputies leave their post for any other reason, by-elections are held within three months, but not in the 12 months preceding the end of the assembly's term.
The National Assembly normally has 577 members, but only 564 seats were filled at the end of the session that began in 1997, as 13 had fallen vacant.
The make-up of France's outgoing National Assembly by voting bloc.
Socialists (PS): 248
Rally for the Republic (RPR): 135
Union for French Democracy (UDF): 67
Liberal Democracy (DL): 43
Radicals, Citizens, Greens: 31
No party affiliation: 5
TOTAL: 564 (Left: 314, Right: 245, No affiliation: 5)