Election campaign during which there is an increase in political activity and debate. This is the time when candidates meet the voters and present their programmes and proposals. They have various ways of doing this: they can meet them in markets, shopping centres or even the street and use the media (press, radio and television), a platform widely available to them during election campaigns. However, to ensure that candidates receive equal treatment, the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (Higher Council for the Audiovisual Sector - CSA), the public body which regulates the broadcast media, sees that each candidate or political party is allotted an equivalent amount of time by each radio station and television channel, on which political advertising is prohibited. Finally, in the weeks preceding an election, each voter receives an electoral envelope containing all the candidates’ statements and manifestos. In order to avoid the election outcome being influenced by public opinion polls, which have become increasingly important in French politics, their findings may not be published during the week before a ballot.
Under the laws of 22 December 1990 and 19 January 1995 on the funding of political parties and election campaigns, parties and committees formed to support the various candidates are required to publish their campaign accounts - which must balance - and must include in their reports all expenditure on political communications. For a period of one year preceding the date of the election, the current spending limit in presidential elections is $16 million and for candidates present in the second round $21 million.
A ban on political advertising on commercial hoardings commences four months before the official campaign opens. Restrictions have also been placed on the funding of political parties: first, stringent ceilings were imposed on the resources parties may hold, together with an obligation to declare funds provided by businesses, industrial groups and private donors, subsequently all funding of political parties by businesses became illegal. The state reimburses a proportion of campaign expenses depending on the results obtained in the election $180,000 for any presidential candidate, plus 8% of the spending limit for these candidates and 36% for those winning more than 5% of the votes in the first ballot). These provisions are designed to make politics fairer by limiting expenditure and waste and guaranteeing a degree of equity between the candidates.
For more information: Constitutional Council (in French)