Cantons of France

French departments are governed by General Councils, a timeless institution in existence, in one form or another, since the Revolution. Since 1982, their powers have been unclear and of little importance nationally, but they remain the basis of departmental institutions. The General Council is, in a way, a National Assembly at the local level. After all, both use constituencies, and in General Councils, they’re called cantons. These cantons nowadays serve mostly as electoral constituencies for electing one councillor to the General Council, and this person is election using the same system as the one used to elect deputies to Paris – a two-round majority uninomial system. The only difference is that the cantonal elections have a lower threshold for getting into the runoff: 10% of registered voters against 12.5% nationally. The other major difference is that, normally, councillors have a six-year term, sometimes extended to seven; and that they’re renewed by halves every, what, three or four years (as of now, in 2004 and 2008, with the 2004 series up in 2011 and the 2008 series up in 2014).

Cantons are awful things, really. Rural cantons hold disproportionate influence, though that doesn’t really help the right much since the rural-urban divide is not as important as other divides in France, and the 2004 and 2008 were massive anti-government elections and anti-government feelings affected urbanites as much as rural folks. Cantons, apparently, must hold around 20,000 people. But since France has this thing against redistricting, some rural cantons have barely 1000 people while urban cantons hold over 30,000 people. Aix-en-Provence-Sud-Ouest has 68,774 people while Barcillonnette has 353 inhabitants!

Because of the electoral system and also due to the electoral role and composition of political parties, these elections have known to favour the moderate parties of the system over the extremes. For that reason, the Communist Party has never ruled many departments and despite past electoral results well up in the 20s, they never had that percentage of councillors nationally. Parties such as the old Radical Party, which was known to be a party of notables, or well-known local political machines, were favoured by this system and they held a disproportionate amount of seats and presidencies. Other centrist or moderates parties such as the Christian democrats (MRP and successors) and the CNI were important players. In a way, the Fourth Republic lived on in the General Councils until the late 60s or 70s. For example, in the 1961 cantonal elections, the PCF won 18.6% of the vote and 52 seats. Meanwhile, the Socialists (also a local machine back then, and even today) won 271 seats on 16.8% and the Radicals won 211 seats on 7.4%! The same has happened today to marginalize the far-right (FN) in General Councils. Local political dynasties are also very important, and sometimes these dynasties don’t even die out after the instigator of the dynasty has himself kicked the bucket!

I undertook the massive project of mapping the ‘political colour’ of all of these cantons or constituencies, around 4,000 of them. To my knowledge, such as a national map of all cantons cannot be found online or publicly. The map is up-to-date as of October 2009, therefore including changes in political affiliation since the 2004 or 2008 cantonal elections. There are by-elections in one or more cantons about weekly in the ‘school-year’.

Some of the actual classifications in each canton may be a matter of debate, but I used my best information and sources. And some borders might not be fully accurate, especially when my base maps didn’t include inner-city areas.

A larger version (huge) can be found here. Parties should be relatively straightforward. ExG refers to the far-left, in this case the Independent Workers’ Party (POI) and also Les Alternatifs, a rough confederation of eco-socialists, anti-globalizations and that type. The CAP, Convention for a Progressive Alternative, is a party founded by reformist Communists (Marcel Rigout in Haute-Vienne) and also eco-socialists and New Left types. It’s mostly a local party in Haute-Vienne. Ecolo refers to ecologists who are not members of the Greens. Basques refers to a Basque Regionalist councillor, and PNC refers to the Party of the Corsican Nation (Corsican nationalists/autonomists). AC refers to the Centrist Alliance, a centrist outfit founded by Senator Jean Arthuis. Finally, Alsace d’abord is a far-right Alsatian regionalist party. On the note of DVD and DVG, these people are oftentimes, especially in cantonal elections, independents classified by the state as right-wing or left-wing. They sometimes refer to some small parties which the state doesn’t classify under a specific etiquette (in this case, the MPF and DLR), but most of the time I’ve tried to figure out if they belonged to a small outfit or not and classified them as such. DVD and DVG usually dominate rural areas, where party etiquette is less ‘solid’ and important.

The map is obviously a sea of pink, due to the absolute dominance of the left in the 2004 and 2008 elections. The old Southwest, the base of French radicalism and later socialism is a sea of almost unbroken PS pink. The Socialist tradition in this area, an old area of secular opposition to Paris and the Catholic-bourgeois regime of the time, is strongest in rural areas and even stronger in the high isolated mountain villages high up in the Pyrenées Mountains. The urban cores of this area: Toulouse, Carcassonne, Tarbes, Castres and so forth were wealthier and had less of a tradition of opposition to Paris than the rural areas did. However, the gentrification of Socialism in France as a movement acceptable to the middle-class has turned even those isolated blue areas into pink areas. Although, it should be noted, the few blue cantons tend to be in this area.

Also notable on this map is the rough shape of a C or G starting around Haute-Saône in the east, circling through the Red Allier and Limousin, and then the Southwest before lining the Mediterranean coast until Aubagne and the outskirts of Marseille and ending in the Alps. This ‘C’ shaped pattern used to be the map of French socialism, especially visible in the 1965 runoff. Then, however, the Var and Alpes-Maritimes were left-wing strongholds!

On the topic of the Var, it’s interesting to see the remnants of backwoods left-wing support here! The old Var rouge, also an area of old secular opposition to Parisian institutions made the department an old left-wing stronghold before Pieds-Noirs from Algeria and old wealthy retirees transformed the region entirely.

The Limousin in central France is an old left-wing stronghold, and a base of rural communism though now rural socialism. The tradition says that Limousin workers who worked in Paris brought home with them socialist ideals. The Limousin is France’s most socialist and left-wing region.

The industrial northern quarter of France, encompassing the Nord, Flanders, the Artois and Pas-de-Calais, Picardy, and parts of Normandy around Le Havre, Rouen and Dieppe are still visible.

Outside of the aforementioned areas, where socialism is an older trend albeit somewhat evaporated in parts, the ‘new’ Socialist areas are in Bretagne (the region which trended the most to the left between 1974 and today), parts of the Pays-de-la-Loire, and in other urban and suburban areas. In Bretagne, once a rural strongly Catholic (clerical) region and the left’s worst region, the rise of the left is remarkable. Most of it is due to the experience of the left in power and the destruction of the clerical’s myth that socialism in power meant communism in power and the second coming of Stalin but more importantly to the gentrification and centrist drift of the PS in Bretagne. This shift has turned the tide in Bretagne, a strongly pro-European and moderate region in favour of the PS. The left’s first gains came in urban cores such as Rennes, Brest, Quimper, Nantes and so forth. In the late 1990s and during Chirac’s second term, the PS gained in suburban areas, generally middle-class and growing. While these suburban areas lean more on the right in national elections, they have been the key to the Socialist domination of the departments and regions. However, this isn’t to say that Bretagne was an entirely blue map in 1970 or so, far from it. There has always been a strongly left-wing area in the Guingampais Country, which is located west of Saint-Brieuc in the southwestern areas of the Côtes-d’Armor department. This also extends into the northwestern areas of Morbihan and to the north-eastern areas of the Finistère around the city of Morlaix. This is a rural though anti-clerical area, and it is also known as the Breton Red Belt, as it too elected Communists. Interestingly, the city of Douarnenez, whose canton is ironically held by the UMP today, elected the first Communist mayor in France. In Douarnenez, but also in Concarneau and other coastal towns in Cornouaille-Finistère Sud, there was a strong Communist tradition known as le communisme sardinier (‘Sardine communism’!), referring to the fact that workers in the sardinières (sardine processing factories) voted PCF by 1920 or so.

The aforementioned urban-suburban support of the PS is also visible around Nantes (huge suburbia), Tours, Caen, Rouen, La Rochelle, Nancy and so forth. In some cases, though, it’s just urban support because the suburbia is not middle-class but upper-class (Strasbourg, Orleans, Le Havre etc). In fact, the destruction of the right in urban cores is very marked here, and quite amazing. Some cities, such as Rennes, are all left-wing, while most have just one or two right-wing cantons, mostly in the wealthy city centre.

A note on the PCF over here, there’s still a fair share of red in here. What are these areas? Firstly, you have a strongly Communist belt of support in the old coalfield of the north, though it is limited to only the Nord department and does not extend into the Pas-de-Calais. In the Pas-de-Calais, there is a very strong PS fed in the Pas-de-Calais. Not only in terms of members, but also in terms of organization and power on the ground. In the Nord, the PS fed is powerful on its membership numbers, but the PCF organization in strong in the old mining areas. The PCF has held its Meurthe-et-Moselle minefield strongholds very well, not so well in Moselle. Here again, you’re probably seeing the effects of local economic and party organization factors (though the PCF’s Lorrain base was much more Meurthe-et-Mosellan than Mosellan). Other mining areas, such as Firminy (Loire), Carmaux (Tarn), Montceau-les-Mines (Saône-et-Loire) also have PCF councillors. The industrial [harbour] suburbs of Marseille (Fos-sur-Mer, Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône), Le Havre (Gonfreville-l’Orcher and part of the city proper) are Communist strongholds, but the poorer working-class suburbs of Lyon (Vénissieux), Paris (the 93 department, part of the Val-d’Oise, Nanterre, Trappes, Argenteuil, Mantes-la-Jolie), Grenoble, Tours, and so forth are also old PCF areas though the decline in most marked here. Due in part to the influx of immigrants, who end up being less likely to become solid PCF voters than old white workers are. The PCF also holds a few seats out in Champagne, in places such as Romilly-sur-Seine, which are old industrial cities built along the Paris-Lyon railway. The PCF has survived well in the backwoods areas of the Cévennes mountain range (Gard and parts of Lozère). These are old mining areas, but also old Protestant (French Protestants are left-wing, save for Alsace) areas and old republican areas in the middle of ultra-conservative Catholic low-lying land (atleast compared to the surrounding mountains) of Lozère. Voting patterns in this area are very funny. The PCF holds the Allier General Council, where it is strong in the rural areas in the west of the department. This area of rural communism, which extends into the Cher and Indre too, is based on old sharecropping in the area but also poor communities where miners from Commentry lived. Commentry, ironically held by the right, an old industrial and mining town, was the world’s first socialist city in 1882. In the Allier, the cities are usually more right-wing. Especially Vichy (insert snarky comment here).

“Local parties” are also very funny to see. Most hilarious has to be the survival of the PRG in La Rochelle. They almost have a majority of seats, more than 10 years after Michel Crépeau’s death. Michel Crépeau was the Radical Mayor of La Rochelle for many years, and it seems as if the traditional prevails again today. Other interesting local strongholds include the MoDem in Bayrou’s Pyrenées-Atlantiques, the MPF in Philippe de Villiers’ Vendée, the PG in Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Essonne, and the PRG in Haute-Corse (family dynasties) Tarn-et-Garonne (Jean-Michel Baylet’s turf) the Lot and so forth. The CAP in Haute-Vienne is also a local factor, which also has a base in the Val-d’Oise.

So, you ask, where the hell does the right survive today? On this map, it’s obviously wealthy areas (coastal, urban, suburban or exurban), old rural Catholic areas (part of Bretagne, Lozère, Cantal, Haute-Loire, parts of the Aveyron, southern Doubs, Moselle and so forth), Chirac’s turf in Corrèze (fast disappearing under Sarkozy), the conservative rural areas out east, and Alsace (also Catholic, though Protestants vote right-wing, though Protestants voted Gaullist and not as much Christian democratic UDF in the past). As you can see, there’s not much categories here! Alsace is actually very interesting politically, but would take too long to write about here.

You can post questions or anything in the comments below.

  1. Very interesting, but you may have add that the actual situation remains quite precarious. Remember elections like 1985 or 1992. If you had established your map at this time this would have been very different, because the left had only 20 departements at this time.
    The point is that the cantonal elections have partly lost their usefullness as a major reflection of the “right strongholds” and left “strongholds”, partly because they are coupled with other elections (Regionals or municipals), partly because the “canton’ (just like the département) has paradoxicaly lost its impact on local politics during the last 20 years. So this map is only a partial reflection of the political orientations of France.
    A much more interesting one would have been the map of the 2007 presidential election in the cantons, or if you prefer to see the “real” strongholds of the rightists parties a map of the regionals of 2004 (maybe the one of 2010 would also be a good one for such stuff!).

  2. ‘Awful’cantons indeed. Acoording to and the ratio biggest/smallest canton ranges from 2.4/1 in Hauts-de-Seine to 46/1 in Var.

    One of the proposals of the Balladur commission (to be implemented before 2014) was to change the département electoral system to the one used for the regions, so that the cantons wouldn’t be use as electoral district any more.(see ) Any new development on that?

  3. The government’s electoral reform is now suggesting that regional and departmental legislatures be merged into one ‘territorial council’ in order to save costs (in my view, the levels of administration are not the main money-suckers) but mainly for electoral gain.

    The electoral system will be a botched MMP attempt; with 80% of the seats in the ‘territorial councils’ being elected in the cantons – which, allegedly, will be redrawn for about 20-25k people/canton. However, the big change is that the vote in the cantons will be FPTP (the right performs far better in the first round). The other 20% will be proportional on the basis of departments, but unlike in Germany, voters will have only one ballot: votes ‘not used’ to elect a direct rep will be used in the proportional balancing. It’s a nice way by the government to fake proportionality and a nice way by the right to save its face in elections.

    I plan on making a longer posts on the recent plethora of changes to French electoral laws.

  4. Great. Congratulations for you huge work, it’s really fascinating.

  5. This is indeed a fascinating piece of work. It goes far beyond and deeper than do most psephologists and political experts, and unearths findings than most newspapers cannot see – or grasp. As a bonus, it is very entertaining, too.

    Heartfelt congratulations !

  6. Well, I searched for months a map of the Cantons on french webistes, and finally, I had to find it on an english one !
    Just wonder if French people are interested in their country’s politics !
    Well, congratulations for this huge work, the map is very useful, and the comment is really well done.
    The Cantons are really strange constituencies, in the same General Council a Canton with, say, 3.000 inhabitants is representend by 1 Councillor sitting with a Councillor for another Canton which is, for instance, 25.000 inhabitants ! That is french democracy …

  7. @FJ86: I’m part-French… writing in English… about French politics. Makes at least one French who cares about French electoral history!

  8. We have a second home in Gorges du Tarn in Lozère. I would be very interested to learn more about the politics of this region and the department in general. I understand that there is a deep religious divide here. Our house is in the tiny hamlet of Castelbouc, which is located in the Commune of Sainte-Enemie. As far as I can see, there is a sharp divide here. The east and south of Sainte-Enemie seems to be solid red, while the western and northern neighbors seem to be solid blue. Can someone help me get a hold of this politically as well as culturally very interesting region?

  9. @48210 : Hi, i’ll try to answer you. Sainte-Enimie is the siege of a Canton that is in orange on this map, that means from the MoDem the Democratic Movement, which is a centre party. A new general councillor has been elected in Sainte-Enimie in march, which is “other left”, so, the left is growing northern in this solid right-wing region. Departement of Lozère is a solid right-wing departement but the left often gains new seats at the General Council, growing from 2 seats in 1994 to 7 in 2010 (there are 25 seats, so the margin for the right stay comfortable).
    For the regional and national elections, Lozère is considerated as a safe right-wing departement. The catholic right-wing candidates to the presidential elections have always gained this departement since 1958 (Sarkozy won with 55,75% in 2007, 2 points up the national result, but that’s not the case ine Sainte-Enimie where Segolène Royal took the first place with 50,37% at the second round).
    Globally, the northern 2/3 of the departement are safe catholic right-wing places. The southern borders of the Departement (region of the Cévennes and Causses) is dominated by the left (7 on 8 seats in the Arrondissement of Florac are left-wing, one to the Communist Party, one to the Socialist Parti, one to the Left-Radical Party, 3 are “other left” and the 8th is to the UMP and President of the Departement)
    Since 1988, Lozère 2nd constituency (Western Lozère) has allways sent a right-wing MP to the National Assembly (with good results, in 2007, Pierre MOREL A L’HUISSIER has been elected in the first round with nearly 64% of the votes, the second candidate was the socialist with only 15% of the votes). The first constituency voted for a right-wing MP from 1988 to 1997 and since 2002, in 1997 a socialist has been elected (though the left won the 1997 elections), in 2007 the 1st consituency elected MP Francis SAINT-LEGER at the second round with 53,6% of the votes.
    Finally in regional elections, Lozère give for the first time a majority to the left in 2010, given to the incumbent “other left” President of the region Georges FRECHE a majority of 52,8% at the secound round, the UMP candidate received 36,8% and the National Front candidate 10,4, that is a very bad result for the right, which has allways been in first position for the regional elections in Lozère.

    So I hope this little explanations will give you some clues about Lozère and Sainte-Enimie’s politics. ;)

  10. for a better sociological and less statistical analysis…

    @48210. Lozère is indeed a very interesting region, with a sharp political divide visible between the Cévennes Valley and the higher plateaus or the causse. The sharp divide here dates back to Medieval times, and was the divide between Catholics and Protestant Huguenots (in the Cévennes) and later between royalists and republicans. The Cévennes remains Protestant (Calvinist, I believe, unlike Alsace which has Lutherans) and by consequence secular and opposed to Paris. Thus they vote strongly on the left, and as you get closer to the Gard, you have a communist vote in mining communities near Alès. The causses/plateau remain sparsely populated, Catholic and conservative; thus they vote strongly on the right.

    Royal won over 60% in most Cévennol communes, Sarkozy won 55-60% in most plateau communes.

    Sainte-Enimie is most certainly NOT a solid right-wing canton like the rest of the causses. It’s right in the middle of the divide between causses and Cévennes, and it’s a real 50-50 spot. It was held between 1967 and 2010 by Jean-Jacques Delmas, originally a centre-left radical who became UDF after the radical party’s right went against the Programme Commun, and joined the MoDem in 2009. He had a huge cross-party personal vote. Sarkozy won 50.8% in the canton, but lost the main town. Sarkozy did rather poorly for a right-wing candidate throughout Lozère, reflection of his poor appeal to moderate Christian-democrats (see also Bretagne, PDL). The department is moving to the left, of course.

  11. Very interesting guys! Thank you so much for your insights! It really seems like Sainte-Enemie lies on the border between two very distinct regions. I guess it is difficult to talk about a Lozère identity!

    My family has spent many summers in the Cevennes, and I have always been stunned by the strength of the rural left. We don’t really have a rural left, at least not anymore, where I come from. Also as you mention, I have noticed that the southeastern part of Lozère matches Gard way better than the rest of the department, not only geographically, but also politically. I’m also a little interested in the overall trending of the region, Cevennes plus Cause et Gorges, as well as the department as a whole. I understand that change happens slowly in this sparsely populated region, but I also understand that it has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, so I assume that the rural flight has more or less stopped. I also expect that one, tourism is becoming bigger, and two that people are moving to the region because of better infrastructure, the breathtaking landscapes, (I assume) lower real estate prices here than in Provence, and finally because of the climate, at least in the southern part of the department. All in all, are these assumptions right, first of all, and secondly what does this mean for the overall political leaning of the region. Was the recent elections just a product of Sarkozy strategy or is it trending to the left? I it certainly interesting if this is the case as I understand that Gard and Herault used to be solid red, but now seem to be trending right.

  12. Oh I forgot to mention that I guess Sainte-Enemies odd voting patterns, compared to some of its neighbors, is because of the tourist industry which must draw people from more urban areas to the region

  13. Lozère’s population growth has indeed been quite good, and of course tourism + secondary summer houses plays a large role and there’s been high growth in the Gorges area (as well as around Mende). Population growth has usually helped the right since a lot of growth usually comes from old folks moving to coast for retirement, and Herault is a prime example of that, though of course the rural machine of the old SFIO in the Midi has eroded somewhat. Lozère’s shift to the left has been quite marked since the 1980s and reflects more than anything the declining influence of clericalism and religion as a voting pattern in the region, and the UMP’s move away from moderate centrist Christian democracy of the UDF style to more populist rhetoric under Sarkozy has also hurt locally. Lozère doesn’t have the wealthy-people-on-the-coast type of factor that makes population growth favourable to the right in the Herault.

    There’s lots of rural anger at Sarkozy’s government, and such rural anger threatens the right’s Senate majority in 2011 and perhaps some general councils as well. The local government reform, the cantonal redistricting, the elimination of a tax which funded local governments and coercive measures to force intercommunal structures is deeply unpopular with rural officials and Lozère is centre-ground for such anger (especially since the legislative boundary changes eliminated Lozère’s second constituency and now the whole place is one constituency). Freche’s win likely reflects part of that, though Freche has also built a wide cross-partisan base because of the regional government’s infrastructural development efforts and so forth. Also, the UMP’s candidate was bad in the region and totally lacked media coverage. If Sarkozy continues the slippery slope of rural discontent, I wouldn’t be shocked if Lozère voted left-wing for the first time in a presidential ballot in 2012.

  14. It is true that the southeastern part of Lozère matches Gard not only geographically but also politically. However, the one fact that is crucially different between the two areas, politically speaking, is that the border between Gard and Lozère is also part of the divide between the FN “Mediterranean rim” stronghold and its much less favourable “ribbon” of territory that stretches diagonally from the tip of the Finistère to the south of Lozère.

    Because of that, the right enjoys now a far lower potential reserve of votes (in this case, the FN) in the Lozère than it does in the Gard and neighbouring departments.

    Owing to this phenomenon, what would have been virtually unthinkable in the 70s and 80s, i.e. the right getting a consistently higher percentage of the vote in the Bouches-du-Rhône, Vaucluse and Gard than in Lozère, Haute Loire & Aveyron, did eventually happen in the 2007 Presidential election.

    (See, for instance:,_1981)

  15. Excellent as usual, Gael!

    Generally, and I am very sorry for all those questions, how does the Liberals (in the European sense) and in the opposite FN/nationalist far-right perform in cantonal elections?

    Also, how is Alsace politically based on the fact that it have quite a Christian Democratic (and pro-European) base, just like Bretagne 30-40 years ago. Where is the Alsace d’abord party stronger? And the Basques in south-west France?

    Any clear pattern for the far-left where are not part of the PCF and for the Greens/Écologistes? The Nouveau Centre also seems very randomized in term of distribution, are they former UDF members for the most?

  16. @matvail2002. I’m not quite sure what you mean by “liberals”, given that the French liberal (Orleanist) tradition is pretty much integrated in the centre and that it’s always been hard to pin down exactly where “liberal” parties did well. As for the FN, well, they rarely win any cantons because runoffs are usually bad for them (when they win, it’s by vote splitting); though they played spoiler a lot for both left and right in the past.

    Alsace is very right-wing, but I think people tend to overestimate the Christian democratic strength there a bit when they forget to realize that you have the highest Protestant population there (15-20% iirc) and that it’s also quite working-class. Undoubtedly, the strong right-wing lean comes from the fact that Alsace is wealthy (unlike old rural Bretagne) and clerical. Unlike in Bretagne, the strength of the Church hasn’t collapsed all that much overall. Furthermore, perhaps due to the lack of significant external influences like tourism as well as the Alsatian psyche, the rural areas in Alsace remain much more conservative and wary of external influences than rural Bretagne.

    In Alsace, the FN vote has traditionally been big in rural areas where there are no immigrants but where people are worried by immigration and security issues; though that vote has shifted massively to the UMP since 2007 and didn’t come back much even in 2010. The FN vote has also been noted to be more Protestant (Lutheran) than Catholic, though it’s a rather weak (albeit positive) correlation.

    Bretagne’s reputation as a right-wing stronghold 30-40 years ago is a bit overblown. In 1913, Andre Siegfried was rather clear in emphasizing the difference between Vendee/inner west and Bretagne and saying the latter, despite being equally as clerical, was not as hardcore conservative and mentioned the rebellious nature of the Breton.

    Alsace d’abord hasn’t run in enough elections for its base to be analyzed over time, but its base seems to be in rural Alsace and has little strength in poorer urban areas or old post-industrial areas. There seems to be no major religious divide, though it seems more Catholic than Protestant (unlike the FN in some ways).

    Basque nationalism is much weaker in the French Basque Country than in Spain, largely because Jacobin policies have made sure than the language is much less present in France than in Spain. In the 2009 European elections, Basque regionalists won over 10% in most of the Basque Country and over 15% in a lot of rural villages.

    Cantonal elections are not the best elections to judge voting patterns of major parties given how local they can be and how personality can play a big rule especially in rural areas… and sometimes there’s differences in classifications of some councillors between sources.

    Here are some maps of the far-left’s electoral strength:
    Laguiller 2002:
    Besancenot 2007:
    NPA 2009:
    LO 2009:

    No pattern for the NC – it is a “parti de notables” like the Radicals in the 30s-50s, so their strength is where they have councillors, mayors or deputies. Important bases of strength are Loir-et-Cher, Eure-et-Loir, Somme.

  17. Hi,

    very interesting site! I was wondering how you found the maps for the cantons and circonscriptions, and in case you made them yourself, whether you would be willing to share them (in a vector format) ? That would be most precious for many researchers, including myself !

  18. Hey, did you know there’s a government bill proposing for the ‘conseils départementaux’ (name change) a switch from SMD to M=2: every ‘binôme’ would be a closed list of a male and a female candidate still (two round majority), with totally redrawn canton maps?

  19. @Bancki: Yeah, I saw that. More or less another small symbolic reform, which doesn’t address the issue of local government overload; and which ensures that the major parties continue to dominate. The ‘good’ news is that there will finally be a cantonal redistricting, which will kind of solve the major population disparities.
    On the other hand, they’ll just the number of cantons in each department by 2, but there will still be major differences between the average number of voters in each canton from department to department; some small departments will have only 10-15 cantons which will weaken links between rural voters and their councillor given the large land area they’ll cover.
    The most sensible thing would still be to abolish cantons and use some form of PR or even MMP for these elections. Not that any government will ever do that…
    The redistricting is also cause for concern, there’s little doubt it will be influenced by political/partisan motives/objectives, like Marleix’s legislative redistricting…

  20. On top of that, I fear, with such huge cantons-new-style, those in charge of legisltive redistricting will have even more freedom : many cantons will be too big (>40 000) to be kept as a whole inside one district. And if the plans for a 10% tier by national PR gets through (Jospin commission), the number of seats per departement will change and the redistrciting can start over again.

  1. Pingback: France Cantonals 2011 « World Elections

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