French legislative election, 1988

French legislative election, 1988
June 5 and June 12, 1988

All 577 seats to the French National Assembly
289 seats were needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party Third party
Leader Michel Rocard Jean-Claude Gaudin Jacques Chirac
Leader's seat Yvelines-7th Bouches-du-Rhône-2nd Corrèze-3rd
Last election 206 seats 127 seats 149 seats
Seats won 260 129 126
Seat change Increase 54 Increase 2 Decrease 23
Popular vote 8,493,702 (1st round)
9,198,778 (2nd round)
4,519,459 (1st round)
4,299,370 (2nd round)
4,687,047 (1st round)
4,688,493 (2nd round)
Percentage 34.77% (1st round)
45.31% (2nd round)
18.50% (1st round)
21.18% (2nd round)
19.19% (1st round)
23.09% (2nd round)

  Fourth party Fifth party
Leader Georges Marchais Jean-Marie Le Pen
Party PCF FN
Leader's seat none
Last election 35 seats 35 seats
Seats won 27 1
Seat change Decrease 8 Decrease 34
Popular vote 2,765,761 (1st round)
695,569 (2nd round)
2,359,528 (1st round)
216,704 (2nd round)
Percentage 11.32% (1st round)
3.43% (2nd round)
9.66% (1st round)
1.07% (2nd round)

PM before election

Jacques Chirac

Elected PM

Michel Rocard

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French legislative elections took place on June 5 and June 12, 1988, to elect the ninth National Assembly of the Fifth Republic, one month after the re-election of François Mitterrand as President of France.

In 1986, the Socialist Party (PS) of President Mitterrand lost the legislative election. For the first time under the Fifth Republic, the President was forced to "cohabit" with a hostile parliamentary majority and cabinet. He chose the RPR leader Jacques Chirac as Prime Minister. The two heads of the executive power were rivals for the 1988 presidential election.

Inspired by the example of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Chirac campaigned on an aggressively right-wing set of policies (including privatizations, abolition of the solidarity tax on wealth and tightening restrictions on immigration) but he was faced with significant opposition in French society. For his part, Mitterrand presented himself as the protector of national unity. He campaigned for a "united France" and warned against "the appropriation of the state by a clan", targeting Chirac and the RPR. An alliance between the Socialists and the center-right UDF was evoked.

After Mitterrand's re-election, Chirac resigned. Some politicians and commentators suggested not dissolving the National Assembly and instead nominating a UDF Prime minister (Valéry Giscard d'Estaing or Simone Veil). President Mitterrand refused. Indeed, the polls indicated a "pink surge" if new legislative elections were organized. However, he nominated the moderate Socialist Michel Rocard to lead the cabinet and declared that it was unhealthy for democracy if one party held all the power.

In spite of a very good result in the first round, the "Presidential Majority" (composed of the PS and the Left Radicals) obtained only a small parliamentary majority after the second round. Indeed, the PS and its allies won 276 seats against 271 for the Republican right-wing coalition and 27 Communists. The re-establishment of the majoritarian two-ballot system resulted in the National Front, which had held 35 seats during the previous term, dropping to only one seat.

Some personalities from "civil society" and four UDF politicians participated in the government. They were supported by a minority of their party, which created a new parliamentary group: the Union of Centre. The executive power relied on the "Presidential Majority" which widened towards the Union of Centre or the French Communist Party depending on the policy being advocated by the government.


Parties and coalitions 1st round 2nd round Total seats
Votes % Votes %
Socialist Party (Parti socialiste) PS 8,493,702 34.77 9,198,778 45.31 260
French Communist Party (Parti communiste français) PCF 2,765,761 11.32 695,569 3.43 27
Miscellaneous Left DVG 403,690 1.65 421,587 2.08 7
Movement of Left Radicals (Mouvement des radicaux de gauche) MRG 272,316 1.11 260,104 1.28 9
Total Left ("Presidential Majority" and PCF) 11,935,469 48.85 10,576,038 52.10 303
Rally for the Republic (Rassemblement pour la République) RPR 4,687,047 19.19 4,688,493 23.09 126
Union for French Democracy (Union pour la démocratie française) UDF 4,519,459 18.50 4,299,370 21.18 129
Miscellaneous Right DVD 697,272 2.85 522,970 2.58 16
Total "Union of the Rally and the Center" (Right) 9,903,778 40.54 9,510,833 46.85 271
National Front (Front national) FN 2,359,528 9.66 216,704 1.07 1
Far-left EXG 89,065 0.36 - - -
Ecologists ECO 86,312 0.35 - - -
Far-right EXD 32,445 0.13 - - -
Regionalists 18,498 0.08 - - -
Total 24,425,095 100.00 20,303,575 100.00 575
Abstention: 34.26% (1st round) 30.11% (2nd round). Note: Two seats vacant after the invalidation of two elections in the Oise département.
Popular vote (first round)

9th Assembly by Parliamentary Group

Group Members Caucusing Total
  Socialist Group 258 17 275
  RPR Group 127 3 130
  UDF Group 81 9 90
  Union du Centre Group 34 7 41
  Non-Inscrits 39 0 39
Total: 557 20 577


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