The 1958 Constitution created a Constitutional Council.
This body, composed of nine members, three appointed by the President of the Republic, three by the President of the Senate and three by the President of the National Assembly, is responsible for ensuring the proper conduct of presidential elections, referenda, and parliamentary elections.
Its other role is to monitor constitutionality, ensuring that laws are in conformity with the Constitution.
Not anyone may apply to this body for a ruling, but since 1974 the parliamentary opposition has had the right to refer to it any statute adopted by Parliament.
The Constitutional Council is frequently mobilised in this way, and frequently sets aside provisions adopted by Parliament as contrary to the Constitution.
The result is that there is now a limit placed on the power exercised by the Government and Parliament.
The way its members are appointed holds out no guarantee of autonomy (and, because of this, has been described by French Constitutional authorities as "Oulandish".
On the other hand its members are appointed for nine years, may not be removed and are ineligible for re-appointment, all of which gives them a degree of independence.