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The Local Electoral System in Paris: A Case Apart

Translated Thursday 6 March 2008, by Isabelle Métral

In the French capital, municipal elections are organized on a two-tier basis. Electors vote in each "arrondissement" of the city (there are 20 in all) for lists that designate both the arrondissement’s councillors (who will elect their arrondissement mayor) and Paris councillors (who will elect the Paris mayor).

The capital’s case is unique in France for being both a municipality and a "départment" (the fairly large administrative unit that normally - in the rest of the country- consists of several "cantons" straddling town and country). Paris Councillors cumulate the prerogatives of the former and the latter.

The list that comes first in an arrondissement gets about three quarters of the arrondissement’s seats on the Paris Council. To get the majority on the Council, a list must therefore come top in as many arrondissements as possible, notably in those that have the biggest electorate and elect the greatest numbers of councillors on the City Council.

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