After the success of my main blog, World Elections, which will remain my top priority, I thought of creating a blog about French elections. More specifically, a blog which seeks to explore – in the same non-partisan manner as World Elections – the fascinating world of French elections, France’s rich political history and issues of public governance and territorial administration. This is not a blog about day-to-day French politics, just as World Elections isn’t a blog about my boring subjective commentary about world politics. This is a blog of analysis, discussion, reflection and informed commentary on the things which interest me in politics: not the boring rumours and the inanities pronounced by whichever politician, but rather the elections, the voting patterns, the political opinions, the political culture, the political history, the coherency or in-coherency of political movements and ideologies over time, and matters related to governing politics: electoral laws, redistricting, local government and so forth. Therefore, this blog, just like World Elections, will seek to explore all these issues from a non-partisan standpoint and offer – hopefully – coherent and comprehensive analysis, reflection, informed commentary and debate on these issues.
What will be covered? Well, most importantly, all elections and referendums – of all types – since 1848 and the birth of universal suffrage in France. They will not be covered in a particular order, but I’ll jump back and forth to discuss interesting things about various elections all at one time. All types of elections will be covered, from the presidential elections which are now the heart of French politics to legislative elections to local elections to European elections. The objective in covering all these elections will be to look at how politics were back then, how people voted and why they voted that way, and look at the wider trends and themes. Besides elections and voting patterns, the evolution of political ideologies and of political movements in an historical perspective will be worth looking at. Finally, it is well worth looking at and explaining contemporary (or not so contemporary) issues of public governance such as local government (you will perhaps finally understand French local government!), electoral laws, electoral systems over time and today, and finally redistricting.
The method by which I aim to stimulate such analysis and reflection on stuff like elections, voting patterns and political patterns is through maps – most of them created by myself. Maps which can tell us lots of stuff better than a thousand words could. Maps which can serve as the basis for analysis, reflection and commentary. Maps which are way more interesting than stale, boring raw data. The objective of this blog, therefore, is mapping French elections. It is a key aspect of French politics which is too often ignored, where our contemporaries do not live up to the hopes the great André Siegfried had. With no pretension, I’ll do my best to live up to what Siegfried wanted his readers to do, and I’ll attempt to explain and popularize the fascinating world of French elections to the Anglosphere and beyond.
Here is a glossary of terms which are good to know if you’re going to read this blog.
The CDSP’s Vizlab and the ill-maintained official ministry website are my main sources for official results and election returns for modern-day elections, specifically post-1965 (CDSP Vizlab) and post-1997 (ministry). Earlier election results I have obtained from other sources: emails, scanned copies of old books, old PDF files and so forth.
Books and Journals
Conklin, Alice L., Sarah Fishman, and Robert Zaretsky. France and Its Empire since 1870. New York: Oxford UP, 2011.
It’s pretty hard to find a thorough but not too long book about modern French history in English. This is a pretty good book in that regard, although in terms of political history it is not that good.
Lacoste, Yves. Dictionnaire de géopolitique. Paris: Flammarion, 1995. [fr]
An old book, which I doubt is easily accessible anywhere, which is about the entire world but has some useful short entries about France and its regions including some interesting comments about voting patterns.
Lancelot, Marie-Thérèse, and Alain Lancelot. Atlas des circonscriptions électorales en France depuis 1875. Paris: Colin, 1970.
An old book, and pretty basic as well; but it is one of the most accessible sources for maps of old constituency boundaries and data on historical redistricting and so forth.
Siegfried, André. Tableau politique de la France de l’ouest sous la Troisième République. Paris: A. Colin, 1913. [fr]
André Siegfried’s book about the sociology, socio-economic makeup and political leanings of western France up till 1913 remains the seminal work on the topic of French voting patterns and electoral sociology. It is definitely the most famous, the most thorough and the most interesting work on the topic. Siegfried’s style may annoy in some cases, and in some places his comments do not carry over to the modern-day; but in a lot of cases his comments carry over to the modern-day and his prophecies about the future political evolution of certain regions turned out eerily accurate.
Goguel François. Géographie du référendum du 8 janvier 1961 dans la France métropolitaine. In: Revue française de science politique, 11e année, n°1, 1961. pp. 5-28. [link/fr]
Goguel François. Les élections françaises du 2 janvier 1956. In: Revue française de science politique, 6e année, n°1, 1956. pp. 5-17. [link/fr]
Goguel François. L’élection présidentielle française de décembre 1965. In: Revue française de science politique, 16e année, n°2, 1966. pp. 221-254. [link/fr]
Goguel François. Les élections législatives des 5 et 12 mars 1967. In: Revue française de science politique, 17e année, n°3, 1967. pp. 429-467. [link/fr]
Goguel François. Les élections législatives des 23 et 30 juin 1968. In: Revue française de science politique, 18e année, n°5, 1968. pp. 837-858. [link/fr]
Goguel François. Le référendum du 28 octobre et les élections des 18-25 novembre 1962. In: Revue française de science politique, 13e année, n°2, 1963. pp. 289-314. [link/fr]
Goguel François. Structure sociale et opinions politiques à Paris d’après les élections du 17 juin 1951. In: Revue française de science politique, 1e année, n°3, 1951. pp. 326-333. [link/fr]