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The Life of Napoleon I (Volume 1 of 2) by Rose

Those of the Corps Legislatif going to the Senate


fifth constitution of revolutionary France may be thus described. It began by altering the methods of election. In place of Sieyes' lists of notabilities, Bonaparte proposed a simpler plan. The adult citizens of each canton were thenceforth to meet, for electoral purposes, in primary assemblies, to name two candidates for the office of _juge de paix_ (i.e., magistrate) and town councillor, and to choose the members of the "electoral colleges" for the _arrondissement_ and for the Department. In the latter case only the 600 most wealthy men of the Department were eligible. An official or aristocratic tinge was to be imparted to these electoral colleges by the infusion of members selected by the First Consul from the members of the Legion of Honour. Fixity of opinion was also assured by members holding office for life; and, as they were elected in the midst of the enthusiasm aroused by the Peace of Amiens, they were decidedly Bonapartist.

The electoral colleges had the following powers: they nominated two candidates for each place vacant in the merely consultative councils of their respective areas, and had the equally barren honour of presenting two candidates for the Tribunate--the final act of _selection_ being decided by the executive, that is, by the First Consul. Corresponding privileges were accorded to the electoral colleges of the Department, save that these plutocratic bodies had the right of presenting candidates for admission to the

Senate. The lists of candidates for the _Corps_ _Legislatif_ were to be formed by the joint action of the electoral colleges, namely, those of the Departments and those of the _arrondissements_. But as the resulting councils and parliamentary bodies had only the shadow of power, the whole apparatus was but an imposing machine for winnowing the air and threshing chaff.

The First Consul secured few additional rights or attributes, except the exercise of the royal prerogative of granting pardon. But, in truth, his own powers were already so large that they were scarcely susceptible of extension. The three Consuls held office for life, and were _ex officio_ members of the Senate. The second and third Consuls were nominated by the Senate on the presentation of the First Consul: the Senate might reject two names proposed by him for either office, but they must accept his third nominee. The First Consul might deposit in the State archives his proposal as to his successor: if the Senate rejected this proposal, the second and third Consuls made a suggestion; and if it were rejected, one of the two whom they thereupon named must be elected by the Senate. The three legislative bodies lost practically all their powers, those of the _Corps Legislatif_ going to the Senate, those of the Council of State to an official Cabal formed out of it; while the Tribunate was forced to _debate secretly in five sections_, where, as Bonaparte observed, _they might jabber as they liked_.

On the other hand, the attributes of the Senate were signally enhanced. It was thenceforth charged, not only with the preservation of the republican constitution, but with its interpretation in disputed points, and its completion wherever it should be found wanting. Furthermore, by means of organic _senatus consulta_ it

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