As overseas departments of France, the French Antilles and French Guiana are incorporated into the French political system. As such, the executive branch of the CDF is currently headed by the French president Jacques Chirac, who is represented by a prefect in each respective department. The French legal system and the French constitution are applicable in the CDF, and the Court of Appeals, located in Martinique, has jurisdiction over all the CDF as the highest local court. As semi-autonomous departments, however, the CDF each have a unicameral General Council and a unicameral Regional Council, the presidents of which constitute the heads of government. Both councils are elected by popular vote, generally for a 6-year term. Each department also sends representatives to the French National Assembly and to the Senate.
Mainstream leftist parties in the French tradition have dominated politics in the CDF throughout the post-war era. In French Guiana, the Guianese Socialist Party controls both councils, while the General Council and the Regional Council in Martinique are ruled by the leftist parties, the Progressive Martinique Party and the Martinique Communist Party. In Guadeloupe, the General Council is headed by the left-wing Progressive Democratic Party, while the presidency of the Regional Council is headed by the gaullist (right-wing) Rally for the Republic. The presidency of a rightist candidate represents a discontinuity in Guadeloupian politics, though it can be explained by the inability of 2 socialist groupings in the council to co-operate effectively. Recent elections for all the councils in all the CDF took place at various points in the late 1990s. Major themes in the politics of the CDF revolve around the economy and the high levels of unemployment. A wide variety of rightist and centrist parties are represented in the councils. There are also a number of small separatist political parties in each CDF, though most parties acknowledge economic dependency on France and are content with seeking further autonomy without independence.
There are 6 tax brackets in the CDF, with taxation rates progressively increasing according to income. Most people are taxed in the bottom tax bracket, however. In Martinique, for example, 118,989 individuals were taxed at the lowest bracket of income, which encompasses those who earn between 0 to 7,624 euros, while 17,341 were taxed at the next lowest bracket and only 6,462 were taxed at the highest (2000 est.). In terms of duties on imports, tariffs in the CDF are generally set at the same level as tariffs in metropolitan France. As such, tariff rates fall into 2 categories: liberalized imports and non-liberalized imports. Tariffs for the former are generally low, while tariffs on the latter can be as high as 73 percent, in the case of cigarettes, and up to 40 percent in the case of alcohol.