Word of the day: Front républicain

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Word of the day: Front républicain

This might sound like it involves storming the barricades, but is in fact less dramatic and more tactical.


Why do I need to know Front républicain?

Because it comes up every time there’s an election in France.

What does it mean?

Front républicain, logically enough, means republican front.

But what this actually refers to is when figures from across the political spectrum join together to keep the far-right from power.

The key to understanding this is France’s two-round voting system, which sees all candidates standing in the first round and then the highest-scoring going through to the second round, when people get to vote for a second time. If a far-right candidate makes it through to the second round, candidates from the centre-left or centre-right will often either withdraw from the polling altogether, or call on their supporters to vote for their rivals in order to avoid splitting the vote and enabling a far-right victory.

In recent times it's most commonly used against the far-right, but according to the historian Gilles Candar, writing in Le Monde, the notion dates back to 1885, when the monarchist and Bonapartist opposition recorded high scores in the first round of the legislative elections, and candidates who supported the Republic came together and were able to win a majority of seats.


The term is in the news once again as France prepares for the second round of regional elections on Sunday.

Use it like this

Je suis en faveur d’un front républicain contre l’extrême droite – I am in favour of a republican front against the far right.

Le candidat socialiste a bénéficié d’un front républicain – The socialist candidate benefited from a republican front.


Faire barrage à l’extrême droite – to block the far right

Retirer sa candidature – to withdraw from the running


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