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French legislative election, June 1946

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French legislative election, June 1946

French legislative election, June 1946

2 June 1946

All 586 seats to the French National Assembly
294 seats were needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party Third party
 
Leader Georges Bidault Maurice Thorez Guy Mollet
Party MRP PCF SFIO
Leader's seat Seine Pas-de-Calais
Last election 150 seats 159 seats 146 seats
Seats won 166 153 128
Seat change Increase 16 Decrease 6 Decrease 18
Popular vote 5,589,213 5,145,325 4,187,747
Percentage 28.22% 25.98% 21.14%

  Fourth party Fifth party
 
Leader Jean-Paul David Michel Clemenceau
Party Rally of the Republican Lefts PRL
Leader's seat Seine-et-Oise Seine-et-Marne
Last election 35 seats (Radicals and allies) New party
Seats won 52 35
Seat change Increase 17 New party
Popular vote 2,299,963
Percentage 11.61%

PM before election

Félix Gouin
SFIO

Elected PM

Georges Bidault
MRP

Legislative elections were held in France on 2 June 1946 to elect the second post-war Constituent Assembly designated to prepare a new constitution. The ballot system used was proportional representation.

After the Second World War, three parties dominated the political scene due to their participation in the Resistance to the German occupation: the French Communist Party (PCF), the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO, socialist party) and the Popular Republican Movement (MRP) Christian democratic party. They formed a provisional government led by General Charles de Gaulle.

General de Gaulle advocated a strong presidential government. He felt that the "regime of the parties" under the French Third Republic's system of parliamentary government (characterised by its political instability and ever-changing coalitions) was a cause of the 1940 collapse. However, the three main parties considered parliamentary democracy to be inseparable from the ideology of French republicanism. To them, de Gaulle's project appeared to be a rebirth of Bonapartism. In January 1946, de Gaulle resigned from the Cabinet.

The socialist Félix Gouin succeeded him. A first constitutional draft was approved by the National Assembly. It was supported by the Communists and the Socialists. It concentrated power in a unicameral Assembly and abolished the Senate of France. The Christian-Democrats campaigned for the "No" with de Gaulle and the opponents to a constitutional change (the classical Right and the Rally of the Republican Lefts dominated by the Radical Party).

The "No" coalition warned the voters against the danger of a "dictatorship" of an Assembly dominated by the Marxists, which could question the existence of private property. In the "Yes" coalition, the SFIO refused the Communist proposition of a common campaign. Finally, the "No"s won by 53% of the votes (French constitutional referendum, May 1946).

Consequently, a new National Assembly was elected in order to elaborate a new constitutional draft. The MRP, which led the "No" coalition, became the largest party with more votes and seats than the PCF. The Communists and the Socialists no longer formed a majority, so the MRP was a necessary partner for the writing of a constitutional text. Its leader Georges Bidault took the lead role in the provisional government.

Results

Parliamentary Groups

Party Seats
  Popular Republican Movement 166
  French Communist Party 153
  French Section of the Workers' International 128
  Republican Party of Liberty 35
  Radical Party 32
  Independent Republicans 32
  Democratic and Socialist Union of the Resistance 20
Democratic Union of the Algerian Manifesto 11
  Non-inscrits 9
Total 586
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