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French legislative election, 1869

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Title: French legislative election, 1869  
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French legislative election, 1869

Parliamentary elections were held in France on 31 May and 1 June 1869, with a second round on 6 and 7 June.[1] These elections resulted in a victory for the liberal opposition to the authoritarian French Second Empire. Nationwide, the regime won only 55% of the vote, and in Paris, the opposition parties (mostly Republicans) won 75% of the vote. However, in the countryside, the regime won large majorities.


Party Votes % Seats
Government candidates (Liberals) 4,455,000 55.0 120
Government candidates (Authoritarians) 92
Opposition candidates (Legitimists) 3,543,000 45.0 41
Opposition candidates (Republicans) 30
Invalid/blank votes 127,000
Total 8,125,000 100 283
Registered voters/turnout 10,416,666 78.1
Source: Nohlen & Stöver, Kings and Presidents

Subsequent Rioting (The "White Overalls" Riots[2])

On the nights of June 8-9, 1869, the worst rioting in fifteen years erupted in several cities throughout France. In Paris, on June 8th, demonstrators assembled on the Boulevard Montmartre and sang the "Marseillaise" (banned under the second empire until the Franco-Prussian War[3]); but that was over in an hour. In Belleville the crowd destroyed gas street lamps and shop fronts before marching down the Boulevard du Temple, where they attacked a police van, on their way to the Place de la Bastille, where thirteen people were arrested before order was restored at 2 a.m. by the sergents-de-ville (i.e. regular police). Many said that the police overreacted to the natural exuberance of the crowd at the favorable showing of liberal candidates in the election, and that the further disturbances on the 9th were in consequence. The crowds reached as far as the Place du Carrousel on at least one night, disrupting a gala soirée at the Tuileries Palace, although the emperor remained impassive in the face of a stream of telegrams and Émile Waldteufel's baton was steady.[2] On the 10th, the Prefect of Police issued a proclamation saying that such disturbances would no longer be tolerated. Cavalry and infantry units were brought in to patrol the streets. A total of 1100 persons were arrested and confined for a time in Bicêtre fortress.

Similar disturbances took place on the 8th in Bordeaux and Arles, and on the 9th in Nantes.[4][5]


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