The powers, functions and duties of prior presidential offices, and their relation with the Prime Minister and Cabinet, have over time differed with the various French constitutions since 1848 (the final end of the French Monarchy).
The President of the French Republic is also the ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, Grand Master of the Légion d'honneur and the Ordre national du Mérite, and honorary proto-canon of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.
Since the Referendum on the Direct Election of the President of the French Republic in 1962, the president has been directly elected by universal suffrage; he or she was previously elected by an electoral college.
After the Referendum on the Reduction of the Mandate of the President of the French Republic, 2000, the length of the term was reduced to five years from the previous seven; the first election to a shorter term was held in 2002. President Chirac was first elected in 1995 and again in 2002. At that time, there was no limit on the number of terms, so Chirac could have run again, but chose not to. He was succeeded by Nicolas Sarkozy on 16 May 2007.