French election vocabulary
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Les élections

In French election years (every three to six years, depending on which of the six types of elections is taking place), the news is filled with an array of specialized words and phrases you might not be familiar with.

Here’s some essential vocabulary to help you make sense of everything.

√Člections Elections
les départementales
les élections départementales
 departmental elections
les législatives
les élections législatives
 legislative elections
les municipales
les élections municipales
 municipal elections
les présidentielles
les élections présidentielles
 presidential elections
les régionales
les élections régionales
 regional elections
les sénatoriales
les élections sénatoriales
 senatorial elections
la primaire
l’√©lection primaire

 primary election
le premier tour first round
le deuxi√®me tour second round, run-off
une élection triangulaire
une triangulaire
 3-way race in 2nd round
une élection quadrangulaire
une quadrangulaire
 4-way race in 2nd round
Le vote Voting
l’abstention abstention, not voting
l’√Ęge l√©gal pour voter voting age
le bulletin (de vote) ballot
le bureau de vote polling place
la cl√īture du scrutin close of polling
la cohabitation situation when president and prime minister represent different parties
la consigne de vote guidance on who to vote for*
le d√©bat debate
le d√©pouillement counting of the votes
le droit de vote right to vote
un √©lectorat electorate, constituency
ex √¶quo tied
un isoloir voting booth
l’ouverture du scrutin start of polling
le parrainage sponsorship**
le quinquennat 5-year term
les r√©sultats results
le scrutin ballot
le septennat (obsolete) 7-year term
le sondage poll
sortant outgoing (unless re-elected)
le suffrage vote, voting
le taux de participation électorale
   fort taux de participation √©lectorale
   faible taux de participation √©lectorale
 turnout at the polls
   high turnout
   low turnout
l’urne ballot box
la voix voice, vote
le vote barrage voting against a candidate (as opposed to voting for one)
le vote blanc blank ballot (deliberate)
le vote d’adh√©ision voting for a candidate that one likes / agrees with
le vote de conviction voting for a candidate that one likes / agrees with
le vote de rejet voting against a candidate
le vote nul null ballot (deliberate or accidental)
le vote utile tactical vote (voting for candidate expected to win)
Gens et organismes People and Organizations
l’Assembl√©e g√©n√©rale National Assembly
le candidat
la candidate
la chambre haute (du Parlement) Senate
la chambre basse (du Parlement) National Assembly
le d√©put√© N.A. deputy, member
~ congressperson (US)
~ MP (UK)
le conseil r√©gional regional council
le conseil d√©partemental departmental council
le conseil municipal town / city council
un conseiller
une conseillère
un électeur
une électrice
l’√Člys√©e Elys√©e Palace
le gagnant / vainqueur
la gagnante
le Parlement Parliament
le partisan supporter
le premier ministre Prime Minister
le pr√©sident president
le S√©nat  Senate
le s√©nateur senator
√Čchiquier politique Political Spectrum
le centre center
la droite right
le centre-droite moderate right
le centre-gauche moderate left
l’extr√™me droite extreme right
l’extr√™me-gauche extreme left
la gauche left
un indécis
une indécise
 undecided voter
Verbes Verbs
aller aux urnes to vote
appeler √† voter ___* to call (for supporters) to vote for ___
arriver en t√™te to be the top candidate
avoir l’√Ęge l√©gal to be old enough (to vote)
d√©pouiller un scrutin to count the votes
donner la consigne de vote* to recommend another candidate
√©lire to elect
√™tre en t√™te to be in the lead
gagner to win
obtenir le m√™me nombre de voix to tie
perdre to lose
se pr√©senter aux √©lections to run in the election
remporter les √©lections to win the election
repasser to retake the lead
voter to vote

 * When a candidate is out of the running, s/he typically recommends another candidate to his/her supporters.

** Potential presidential candidates must collect 500 signatures from elected officials in order to appear on the ballot.

To learn the official names of the biggest French political parties, see Acronyms and initialisms.

 Related lessons

 French listening practice

 French reading practice

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French election vocabulary

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