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French legislative election, 1958

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French legislative election, 1958

French legislative election, 1958

23 and 30 November 1958

All 576 seats to the French National Assembly
289 seats were needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party Third party
Leader Charles de Gaulle none Pierre Pflimlin
Leader's seat none none Bas-Rhin-8th
Last election 22 seats 95 seats 71 seats
Seats won 189 132 57
Seat change 173 37 26
Popular vote 3,603,958 (1st round)
4,769,052 (2nd round)
4,092,600 (1st round)
4,250,083 (2nd round)
2,387,788 (1st round)
1,365,064 (2nd round)
Percentage 17.6% (1st round)
26.4% (2nd round)
19.9% (1st round)
23.6% (2nd round)
11.6% (1st round)
7.5% (2nd round)

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Leader Guy Mollet Félix Gaillard Maurice Thorez
Party SFIO Radical PCF
Leader's seat Pas-de-Calais-1st Charente Seine
Last election 95 seats 77 seats 150 seats
Seats won 40 37 10
Seat change 55 40 140
Popular vote 3,167,354 (1st round)
2,484,417 (2nd round)
2,695,287 (1st round)
1,398,409 (2nd round)
3,882,204 (1st round)
3,741,384 (2nd round)
Percentage 15.5% (1st round)
13.8% (2nd round)
12.9% (1st round)
7.7% (2nd round)
18.9% (1st round)
20.7% (2nd round)

PM before election

Charles de Gaulle

Elected PM

Michel Debré

This article is part of a series on the
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The French legislative elections took place on 23 and 30 November 1958 to elect the 1st National Assembly of the French Fifth Republic.[1]

Since 1954, the French Fourth Republic had been mired in the Algerian War.[2] In May 1958, Pierre Pflimlin, a Christian-Democrat, became Prime Minister.[3] He was known to be in favour of a negotiated settlement with the Algerian nationalists.[4] On 13 May riots broke out in Algiers, with the complicity of the army.[5] A rebel government seized power in Algiers in order to defend "French Algeria". The next day, General Massu demanded the return to power of General Charles de Gaulle.[6]

The rebellious generals took control of Corsica threatening to conduct an assault on Paris, involving paratroopers and armoured forces based at Rambouillet.[6] In Paris, the political leaders were trying to find a compromise.[7] On 1 June De Gaulle replaced Pflimlin to lead a government of national unity and nominated as Ministers of State (Vice-Prime Ministers) Pierre Pflimlin (Popular Republican Movement, MRP), Guy Mollet (French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO), Louis Jacquinot (National Center of Independents and Peasants, CNIP) and Félix Houphouët-Boigny.[8] He obtained the right to develop a new Constitution.[9] Only the Communists and some center-left politicians such as Pierre Mendès-France and François Mitterrand, opposed this "coup against the Republic".[7][10]

On 28 September the new Constitution was approved by 79.25% of voters. The Fifth Republic was born. The two-round system was re-established for the legislative elections.[11] The Gaullists created the Union for the New Republic which became the largest parliamentary group. Their opponents were crushed. The division in the Left between the supporters and the opponents to the Fifth Republic explained, in due to this ballot system which encourages the alliances, the small number of left-wing MPs.[12]

On 21 December de Gaulle was elected President of France by an electoral college.[13] His Justice Minister Michel Debré became Prime Minister.[14] The pro-Fifth Republic center-left parties (SFIO and Radical Party) left the majority.[15][1]

Results (Metropolitan France)[16]

Parties and coalitions 1st round 2nd round Total seats
Votes % Votes %
Union for the New Republic (Union pour la nouvelle République) and Gaullists UNR 3,603,958 17.6 4,769,052 26.4 189
National Center of Independents and Peasants (Centre national des indépendants et paysans) and Moderates CNIP 4,092,600 19.9 4,250,083 23.6 132
Popular Republican Movement (Mouvement républicain populaire) and Christian Democrats MRP 2,387,788 11.6 1,365,064 7.5 57
French Section of the Workers International (Section française de l'Internationale ouvrière) SFIO 3,167,354 15.5 2,484,417 13.8 40
Radical Party (Parti radical), Dissidents and Republican Center Rad 2,695,287 12.9 1,398,409 7.7 37
French Communist Party (Parti communiste français) PCF 3,882,204 18.9 3,741,384 20.7 10
Extreme Right 669,518 3.3 - - 1
Total 20,489,709 99.7 99.7 466
Abstention: 22.9% (1st round)


  1. ^ a b Macridis & Brown 1960, pp. 253-266.
  2. ^ Macridis & Brown 1960, pp. 26-44.
  3. ^ Laponce 1961, pp. 1-2.
  4. ^ Laponce 1961, pp. 9-10; Macridis & Brown 1960, pp. 60-61.
  5. ^ Macridis & Brown 1960, p. 62.
  6. ^ a b Watson 2003, pp. 123-129; Macridis & Brown 1960, pp. 81-91.
  7. ^ a b Macridis & Brown 1960, pp. 92-97.
  8. ^ Laponce 1961, pp. 12-13; Macridis & Brown 1960, p. 154.
  9. ^ Macridis & Brown 1960, p. 117.
  10. ^ Mitterrand 1964.
  11. ^ Macridis & Brown 1960, pp. 210-236, 335-358.
  12. ^ Macridis & Brown 1960, pp. 249-266.
  13. ^ Macridis & Brown 1960, p. 182, 270.
  14. ^ Macridis & Brown 1960, p. 152, 273.
  15. ^ Macridis & Brown 1960, pp. 242-246.
  16. ^ Macridis & Brown 1960, p. 258, N.B.: Unofficial and partly reconstructed


  • Macridis, Roy C; Brown, Bernard Edward (1960). Long, Norton E., ed. The De Gaulle Republic: Quest For Unity. The Dorsey Series in Political Science (1st ed.). Homewood: The Dorsey Press.  
  • Laponce, J. A. (1961). The government of the Fifth Republic: French Political Parties and the Constitution. Berkeley, Los Angeles; London: University of California; Cambridge University.  
  • Watson, William E. (2003). Tricolor and Crescent: France and the Islamic World. Perspectives on the twentieth century (10th ed.). Westport: Praeger.  
  • Mitterrand, François (1964). Le Coup d'Etat permanent (in Français). Paris: Plon. 

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