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French Election Vocabulary

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis - updated on Oct 23, 2020
french election vocabulary frenchtoday

Let’s study the French Election Vocabulary. How should you call a woman president in France? Madame La Présidente ? It’s not that easy…

Let’s start with the names of the French elections:

1 – Different French Elections Names

  1. Les élections présidentielles – election to choose the President
  2. Les élections régionales – election to choose the regional council
  3. Les élections municipales – election to choose the town council

Now let’s study the French election related terms.

2 – French Election Terms

  1. La campagne électorale – election campaign
  2. Le candidat, la candidate – candidate
  3. Le bureau de vote – Polling station
  4. Voter (pour/contre) – to vote for/against
  5. Voter blanc – to cast a blank vote
  6. Voter à bulletin secret –  to vote by secret ballot
  7. Un vote – a vote
  8. Le droit de vote – right to vote
  9. Un électeur, une électrice – a voter
  10. Un bulletin de vote – ballot paper
  11. La consigne de vote – voting instruction
  12. Elire  – to elect
  13. Le suffrage universel – universal suffrage, or right to vote
  14. Le mandat – term
  15. Le quinquennat – quinquennium, five-year period
  16. Le tour – round
  17. Le scrutin – election
  18. L’isoloir (m) – booth
  19. La cabine – cabin
  20. La carte d’électeur ou la carte électorale – voter’s card
  21. L’urne (f) – ballot box, urn
  22. Se rendre aux urnes – to go to the poll
  23. Le dépouillement – counting
  24. Le système électoral – voting system
  25. Les promesses électorales – campaign promises
  26. le taux d’abstention – abstention rate
  27. Le sondage d’opinion – opinion poll
  28. La circonscription    – constituency
  29. Le premier tour – first ballot
  30. Le second tour – second ballot
  31. Le taux de participation – turnout at pools
  32. Le Référendum – referendum
  33. L’élection partielle – by-election
  34. Les résultats – results
  35. la fraude électorale – election fraud
  36. La réélection – re-election
  37. Se présenter aux élections – to stand for election
  38. Remporter les élections – to win the election
  39. Perdre les élections – to lose the election
  40. La victoire – victory
  41. La défaite – defeat
  42. Monsieur le Président – Mr President
  43. Madame la Présidente / Madame le Président – Mrs President

This list of vocabulary was put together with the help of French immersion teacher Chantal. Check out her bilingual story to know more about the French presidential elections.

What about how to say to support in French? Soutenir ou Supporter? Avoid this easy to make mistake….

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3 – Madame Le Président, Madame La Présidente ?

In the French language, (Le) président in the masculine, (la) présidente in the feminine do exist, and are used for regular jobs, such as the president of a company.

But when it comes to politics, the Assemblée Nationale has different rules… They frown upon the feminisation of political titles and prefer a neutral gender, hence masculine in French… Read this obscure article in French if you have the courage… I personally gave up!

So, traditionally, it looks like the way to refer to a woman president of the French Republic should be “Madame le président de la République”, le président being “neutral” (but masculine). However apparently, that too can get you in trouble!

Now, all the newspapers use “la présidente de la République française” when they talk about the hypothesis of Le Pen becoming the first woman president of the French republic.. So I don’t know if L’Accadémie would agree, but “la présidente de la République” seems to be the way to go…

I even went at length and asked the forum of “Projet Voltaire” since it was all so complicated. Here is the thread should you like to read more…

By the way, should you write directly to the president, then the P will be uppercase, an uppercase of courtesy apparently: “Monsieur le Président”, “Madame le Président”, or “Madame la Présidente”….

If you enjoy learning French in context, check out French Today’s downloadable French audiobooks: French Today’s bilingual novels are recorded at different speeds and enunciation, and focus on today’s modern glided pronunciation. 

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