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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