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France is a representative democracy. Public officials in the legislative and executive branches are either elected by the citizens (directly or indirectly) or appointed by elected officials. Referendums may also be called to consult the French citizenry directly on a particular question, especially one which concerns amendment to the Constitution. France elects on its national level a head of state – the president – and a legislature The president is elected for a five-year term (previously, seven years), directly by the citizens. The Parliament (Parlement) has two chambers. The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) has 577 members, elected for a five-year term in single seat-constituencies directly by the citizens. The Senate (Sénat) has 348 members, 328 of which are elected for six-year terms by an electoral college consisting of elected representatives from each département, 8 of which are elected from other dependencies, and 12 of which are elected by the French Assembly of French Citizens Abroad (Assemblée des Français de l'étranger) which has replaced the High Council of French Citizens Abroad (Conseil Supérieur des Français de l'Étranger) a 155-member assembly elected by citizens living abroad. See Government of France for more details about these political structures. In addition, French citizens elect a variety of local governments. There also are public elections for some non-political positions, such as those for the judges of courts administering labor law (conseils de prud'hommes), elected by workers and employers, or those for judges administering cases of rural land leases. France does not have a full-fledged two-party system; that is, a system where, though many political parties exist, only two parties have a chance of getting elected to major positions. However French politics displays some tendencies characterizing a two-party system in which power alternates between relatively stable coalitions, each being led by a major party: on the left, the Socialist Party, on the right, the UMP and its predecessors. See politics of France for more details. Elections are conducted according to rules set in the Constitution of France, organisational laws (lois organiques), and the electoral code. Elections are always held on Sundays in France. The campaigns end at midnight the Friday before the election; then, on election Sunday, by law, no polls can be published, no electoral publication and broadcasts can be made. The voting stations open at 8 am and close at 6 pm in small towns or at 8 pm in cities, depending on prefectoral decisions. By law, publication of results or estimates is prohibited prior to that time; such results are however often available from the media of e.g. Belgium and Switzerland, or from foreign Internet sites, prior to that time. The first estimate of the results are thus known at Sunday, 8pm, Paris time; one consequence is that voters in e.g. French Guiana, Martinique and Guadeloupe knew the probable results of elections whereas they had not finished voting, which allegedly discouraged them from voting. For this reason, since the 2000s, elections in French possessions in the Americas, as well as embassies and consulates there, are held on Saturdays as a special exemption. (via DBpedia)