The departmental councils (French: conseils départementaux; singular, conseil départemental) of France are representative assemblies elected by universal suffrage in 98 of the country's 101 departments. Prior to the 2015 French departmental elections they were known as general councils (conseils généraux; singular, conseil général).
The Law of 22 December 1789 required the establishment of an assembly in each department, known as the council of the department. This law was repealed on 4 December 1793; it was restored as the "law on the division of the territory of the Republic and its administration" on 17 February 1800, in which, "General Council of the departments" were formed. At this time, the name "General Council" was also used by town and district councils.
The members of the general council were not elected until 1833; they were first elected by universal manhood suffrage on 3 July 1848. The first female president of a department council was Évelyne Baylet in Tarn-et-Garonne in 1970.
Until the passing of the Law of 2 March 1982 on the rights and freedoms of communes, departments, and regions, the prefect in each department was not only the state's representative in that department but also embodied in his or her person the department's executive; since 1982, the latter function has been transferred to the president of the departmental council.
Law 175 of 26 February 2008 states that there must be at least one candidate of each gender in all departmental council elections.
- The other three are Guyane, Martinique, and Paris, governed by respectively the Assemblée de Guyane, the Assemblée de Martinique, and the Conseil de Paris.
- Ministère de l'intérieur, Les élections départementales : comprendre ce qui change (in French), retrieved 2015-07-30
- "Law of 22 December 1789" (PDF). National Assembly. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- "Law of 28 Pluviose year VIII" (PDF). U-Picarde. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- "Les institutions administratives de la France de 1789 à 1800". University of Burgundy. 1988. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- "Baylet. Women and Power". Senate of France. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- "Law 82-213 of 2 March 1982". Legifrance. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- Law No. 175 of 26 February 2008 to facilitate equal access of women and men to the mandate of General Councils.