As an integral part of France, its head of state is the President of the French Republic, and its head of government is the Prime Minister of France. The French Government and its agencies have responsibility for a wide range of issues that are reserved to the national executive power, such as defense and external relations.
The President of France appoints a prefect (resident at the prefecture building in Cayenne) as his representative to head the local government of French Guiana. There are two local executive bodies: the 19‑member general council and the 34‑member regional council, both elected. They will soon[when?] be reunited into only one council, since they have authority on exactly the same territory.
French Guiana sends two deputies to the French National Assembly, one representing the commune (municipality) of Cayenne and the commune of Macouria, and the other representing the rest of French Guiana. This latter constituency is the largest in the French Republic by land area. French Guiana also sends two senators to the French Senate.
The Guianese Socialist Party dominates politics in French Guiana.
A chronic issue affecting French Guiana is the influx of illegal immigrants and clandestine gold prospectors from Brazil and Suriname. The border between the department and Suriname, the Maroni River, flows through rain forest and is difficult for the Gendarmerie and the French Foreign Legion to patrol.
There have been several phases launched by the French government to combat illegal gold mining in French Guiana, beginning with Operation Anaconda beginning in 2003, followed by Operation Harpie in 2008, 2009 and Operation Harpie Reinforce in 2010. Colonel François Müller, the commander of French Guiana's gendarmes, believes these operations have been successful. However, after each operation ends, Brazilian miners, garimpeiros, return.
Soon after Operation Harpie Reinforce began, an altercation took place between French authorities and Brazilian miners. On 12 March 2010 a team of French soldiers and border police were attacked while returning from a successful operation, during which "the soldiers had arrested 15 miners, confiscated three boats, and seized 617 grams of gold... currently worth about $22,317". Garimpeiros returned to retrieve their lost loot and colleagues.
The soldiers fired warning shots and rubber "flash balls", but the miners managed to retake one of their boats and about 500 grammes of gold. "The violent reaction by the garimpeiros can be explained by the exceptional take of 617 grammes of gold, about 20 percent of the quantity seized in 2009 during the battle against illegal mining", said Phillipe Duporge, the director of French Guiana's border police, at a press conference the next day.