Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (France)

The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (French: chef de l'opposition au Sénat) is the leader of the largest opposition group in the Senate of France. The status has no official recognition in the French Constitution. What is more, the ideological differences between groups in the Senate is smaller than as usual, as the powers of the Senate allow it, at best, to lengthen the time for a bill.

Leader of the Opposition
in the Senate
Chef de l'opposition au Sénat
Patrick Kanner par Claude Truong-Ngoc septembre 2014.jpg
Patrick Kanner

since 23 January 2018
StyleThe President
Term length3 years
Inaugural holderAntoine Courrière
Formation28 April 1959

Following the 2011 Senate election and the victory of the Socialists, Jean-Claude Gaudin became the first right-wing Senate Opposition Leader under the Fifth Republic. Eight people have held the position since its establishment in 1959. The current officeholder is Patrick Kanner.

List of Opposition Leaders under the Fifth RepublicEdit

Political parties:   Socialist Party   Union for a Popular Movement

Leader Image Took office Left office Political group Notes
Antoine Courrière 28 April 1959 20 September 1974 SOC Senator for Aude. Died in office.[1]
Marcel Champeix 20 September 1974 1 October 1980 SOC Senator for Corrèze. Not reelected to the Senate.[2]
André Méric 1 October 1980 22 June 1988 SOC Senator for Haute-Garonne. Resigned to join the Rocard government.[3]
Claude Estier   22 June 1988 1 October 2004 SOC Senator for Paris. Did not seek reelection to the Senate.[4]
Jean-Pierre Bel   1 October 2004 1 October 2011 SOC Senator for Ariège. Subsequently became President of the Senate.[5][6]
Jean-Claude Gaudin   1 October 2011 1 October 2014 UMP Senator for Bouches-du-Rhône.[7]
Didier Guillaume   1 October 2014 23 January 2018 SOC Senator for Drôme.[8]
Patrick Kanner   23 January 2018 Incumbent SOC Senator for Nord.[9]


  1. ^ (in French) Biography of Antoine Courrière on the official Senate website.
  2. ^ (in French) Biography of Marcel Champeix on the official Senate website.
  3. ^ (in French) Biography of André Méric on the official Senate website.
  4. ^ (in French) Biography of Claude Estier on the official Senate website.
  5. ^ (in French) Biography of Jean-Pierre Bel on the official Senate website.
  6. ^ The French Senate elects Jean-Pierre Bel, its first Socialist President, www.bloomberg.com. 2 October 2011.
  7. ^ (in French) Sénat : Gaudin président du groupe UMP, www.lefigaro.fr. 3 August 2011.
  8. ^ (in French) Biography of Didier Guillaume on the official Senate website.
  9. ^ (in French) Biography of Patrick Kanner on the official Senate website.