It is true that both France and the United Kingdom posses a democratic parliamentary system of government, however the implementation of this form of government vastly differs between the two nations. France's governmental structure is that of a republic with a parliamentary democracy. The current structure, the Fifth Republic, has been in place since 1958. The government consists of three branches: the executive branch; of which the President and the Prime Minister are the heads, the Legislative branch; which consists of a Senate and a National Assembly, and a judicial branch, charged with creating and enforcing the laws.
The French parliamentary system differs from the British parliamentary system in that it has been called a hybrid presidential-parliamentary system, having both a president and a prime minister. Under the hybrid system, the president has many powers, but his authority is checked by direct popular elections every five years. Direct popular elections select the parliament as well, and if the legislature and president are on opposite sides of issues, the cabinet and prime minister must arbitrate the difference. The powers of the president include: election by popular vote, selection of the Prime Minister and direction of the policy decisions of the Cabinet, submission of any legislative proposal to the electorate as a referendum, ability to dissolve parliament and call for new elections, and emergency powers in situations of "grave threat".
The executive branch of the French government also includes a prime minister and cabinet. According to the Constitution of 1958, the Prime Minister "shall direct the operation of the government", and the government "shall determine and direct the policy of the Nation." Until 1986 the prime minister and the cabinet operated to provide the direction or resources necessary to implement the policies conceived by the president. One of the many functions of the prime minister is