Republican Union (France)

Léon Gambetta French presidential elections under the Third Republic Henri Brisson
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Republican Union

Union républicaine
PresidentLéon Gambetta
Founded1871; 149 years ago (1871)
Dissolved1885; 135 years ago (1885)
Preceded byModerate Republicans
Liberalism (faction)
Radicalism (faction)
Political positionFar-left (historical)
Left-wing (since the late 1870s)
Centre-left (since the early 1880s)
Colours     Red

Chamber(s): Chamber of Deputies and Senate
Legislature(s): 1st4th of the Third Republic
Constituency: Member of Parliament for Seine

The Republican Union (French: Union républicaine, UR), later known as the Progressive Union (French: Union progressiste, UP), was a French parliamentary group founded in 1871 as a heterogeneous alliance of moderate radicals, former Communards and opponents of the French-Prussian Treaty.


Formed in the early years of the French Third Republic, the Republican Union led by Léon Gambetta was strongly opposed to the Treaty of Versailles as much understanding to the Paris Commune, repressed by the moderate Adolphe Thiers. The party's electoral lists also included notable activists and intellectuals like Louis Blanc (elected with 216,000 votes),[1] Victor Hugo, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Edgar Quinet, Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau, Émile Littré, Charles Floquet, Georges Clemenceau, Arthur Ranc and Gustave Courbet.

Initially on the extreme left of the Parliament of France, the group became close to the Opportunist Republicans of Jules Ferry in the late 1870s, causing a split of the far-left radicals led by Clemenceu. During the Gambetta government (1881–1882), René Goblet also broke away from the group to form the Radical Left.

After the 1885 legislative election, the Republican Union's popularity decreased while the Opportunists to their right increased their votes. In 1894, one of the last prominent members of the group, Gustave Isambert, renamed the Republican Union as the Progressive Union and with an handful of deputies and senators continued to pursue Gambetta's goals. However, changes in the political system led to a need for a big party of all liberals and when the Democratic Republican Alliance was created in 1901 the Opportunists and the Progressive Union merged into it.

Electoral history

Presidential elections

Election year Candidate No. of first round votes % of 1st round vote No. of second round votes % of 2nd round vote Won/Loss
1873 Jules Grévy 1 0.2% Loss
1879 Léon Gambetta 5 0.7% Loss
1885 Henri Brisson 68 11.8% Loss
1887 Henri Brisson 26 3.0% Loss
1894 Henri Brisson 195 23.1% Loss
1894 Henri Brisson 195 43.0% 361 45.2% Loss

Legislative elections

Chamber of Deputies
Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
No. of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
1871 Unknown (5th) 6.0%
38 / 638
Léon Gambetta
1876 1,359,435 (2nd) 18.4%
98 / 533
Increase 60
Léon Gambetta
1877 4,860,481 (1st)[a] 60.0%
313 / 521
Increase 205
Jules Dufaure
1881 2,678,678 (1st) 37.3%
204 / 545
Decrease 109
Léon Gambetta
1885 1,125,989 (2nd) 14.2%
83 / 584
Decrease 121
Henri Brisson
1889 2,974,565 (1st) 37.4%
216 / 578
Increase 133
Charles Floquet

See also


  1. ^ Michel Winock (2007). Clemenceu. Perrin Editions. pp. 20–21.