Gaboriaux's book tracks republican approaches to rural votes. She shows how Republicans themselves changed their version of the Republic to make it more attractive to peasants, so that by the 1870s they were seen as the model for the Republican citizenry. Read More
KEYWORDS: RURAL VOTE - EMPIRE - DEMOCRACY - REPUBLIC
Relations were from the beginning difficult between the French republicans and rural populations, who were little inclined to adopt the role that had been written for them.
How could the republicans annex the majority of the French people, who preferred the Empire to the Republic? Confronting the impossible, they were forced to amend their ideals and revise their positions - in effect, rallying to the cause of the peasantry so that they would in turn rally to the Republic. Instead of solidifying an ideal remaining unchanged since 1848, the regime installed during the 1870's thus emerged slowly as a result of disputes provoked by renouncements and compromises.
The book shows that the republicans thus determined their electoral strategies in terms that eerily mirror the ways that the French republican model poses difficulties today. The issue thus leans on the rural electorate, an immense majority, which the passage of universal male suffrage in 1848 made master of France's political destiny and which has, ever since, constantly reinforced its position against the republican project at the ballot box, sustaining controversies in which the Republic is still involved today.
It is this long process, often rife with conflict, of reformation and reinvention of the Republic that is analyzed here in this landmark work.