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French legislative election, 1919

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French legislative election, 1919

The 1919 legislative election, the first election held after World War I, was held on 16 and 30 November 1919.

Proportional representation by department replaced the Two-round system by arrondissements in use since 1889. However, a provision of the system allowed a party to win all the seats in a certain constituency if it had won over 50% of all votes cast.

Campaign

The formation of electoral lists needed to take into account of three factors: on one hand, the tendency of the opinion to think that the Union sacrée needed to be prolonged in peacetime in order to solve the new problems of France of the post-war period; on the other hand, the refusal of the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO), then in crisis, to discuss the question of the Bolshevism. To preserve their unity, the Socialists decided in April 1919 not to conclude any agreement ahead of the legislative elections. This decision isolated the radicals, forced to give up a new alliance of the left, and allowed an aggressive campaign of the right and centre directed against the SFIO, accused of Bolshevism; finally, the persistence of partisan divisions within the right. The monarchists of Action française were isolated, but the nationalists, the Catholics, and the "progressives" (who are in fact the moderate republicans from the pre-war period) brought together the moderate republicans of the center-right, gathered in several small organizations, all members of Democratic Alliance, but rejected any possibility of an agreement with the radicals. The radicals were found stuck between the SFIO which hesitated between radicalization and the status quo, and a right more than ever anti-leftist.

Following complex negotiations, 324 lists were formed. The Socialists chose homogeneous lists, while the radicals divided between lists allied with the center-right and isolated lists. The lists of the Bloc National gathered the members of the Democratic Republican Alliance, the progressives, the nationalists and the Catholics. Alexandre Millerand managed to gather around him a very broad coalition in his stronghold of the second sector of the Seine by advocating a reinforcement of the presidential powers.

Results

The results were, except for the SFIO, which made gains, managing to run candidates in all constituencies; rather confusing. Radicals, particularly when they were isolated, tended to decline, and the victory of the Bloc National was without ambiguity: a blue wave hit the Chamber of deputies, called the "blue horizon chamber", because of the great number of ex-World War I servicemen who sat there (44% of the total of the deputies). This victory would remain the largest victory of the right and the centre-right until the 1968 legislative election. 60% of the deputies in this legislature were newly elected.

Popular vote

e • d Summary of the popular vote in the 11 and 25 May 1919 Chamber of Deputies election results
Alliance Votes % Party Abbr. Votes %
  National Bloc 4,353,025 53.42 Republican Federation (Fédération républicaine) FR 1,819,691 22.33
Independents (Indépendents) and Conservatives (Conservateurs) Ind 1,139,794 13.99
Democratic Republican Party (Parti républicain démocratique) PRD 889,177 10.91
Independent Radicals (Radicaux indépendents) RI 504,363 6.91
French Section of the Workers' International (Section française de l'Internationale ouvrière) SFIO 1,728,663 21.22
Republican, Radical and Radical-Socialist Party (Parti républicain, radical et radical-socialiste) PRRRS 1,420,381 17.86
Republican-Socialist Party (Parti républicain-socialiste) PRS 283,001 3.47
Independent Socialists (Socialistes indépendants) PRS 147,053 1.80
Veterans (Anciens combattants) 128,004 1.57
Other parties Div 87,963 1.08
Total 100
Abstention: 29.78%

Parliamentary Groups

Affiliation Party Seats
Left
  French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) 68[1]
Centre-Left
  Republican-Socialist Party (PRS) 26
  Republican, Radical and Radical-Socialist Party (PRRRS) 86
Centre-Right
  Democratic Republican Left 93
  Republican and Social Action 46
  Republicans of the Left 61
Right
  Democratic and Republican Union 183
  Independents 29
Non-inscrits
21
Total 613

References and notes

  • Popular Vote on France-politique.fr
  • Parliamentary Groups on France-politique.fr
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