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Republican Federation

Republican Federation
Fédération républicaine
President Philippe Henriot (last)
Founder Jules Méline
Founded November 1, 1903 (1903-11-01)
Dissolved July 10, 1940 (1940-07-10)
Merger of Republican Liberal Union, Republican National Association
Succeeded by Republican Party of Liberty
(Not legal successor)
Headquarters Paris
Membership  (1926) 30,000
Ideology National conservatism
Liberal conservatism
Christian democracy
Political position Right-wing
National affiliation National Bloc
Freedom Front
International affiliation None
Colours      Blue
Politics of France
Political parties

The Republican Federation (French: Fédération républicaine, FR) was the largest conservative party during the French Third Republic, gathering together the liberal Orleanists rallied to the Republic. Founded in November 1903, it competed with the more secular and centrist Alliance démocratique (Democratic Alliance). Later, most deputies of the Fédération républicaine and of Action libérale (which included Catholics rallied to the Republic) joined the Entente républicaine démocratique right-wing parliamentary group.[1]

From 1903 to World War I

The Republican Federation was founded in November 1903 to gather the right-wing of the moderate Republicans (aka Opportunists) who opposed both Waldeck Rousseau's Bloc des gauches (Left-wing Block), his alliance with the Radical-Socialist Party and, for some of them, the defense of the Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus. These conservative Republicans were ideologically indebted to Jules Méline, Alexandre Ribot, Jean Casimir-Perier or Charles Dupuy. They represented the Republican bourgeoisie, closely connected to business circles and opposed to social reform. Furthermore, they were fond of a relative decentralisation, thus enrolling themselves in the legacy of the Girondins of the French Revolution.

Just as the Democratic Alliance, it was a party composed of notables, which rested upon local electoral committee, which merged in the National Assembly in one or several parliamentary groups. It never had many members (30,000 in 1926, 18,000 in 1939).

Inter-war period

After World War I, the Republican Federation participated during the 1919 election to the Bloc national (National Block)'s electoral lists. The same year, the Action libérale populaire (Popular Liberal Action), which gathered Catholics who had rallied to the Republic, merged into the Republican Federation into the parliamentary group of the Entente républicaine démocratique ("Arago group").

The Republican Federation shifted more and more to the right-wing during the inter-war period, partly influenced by the anti-parliamentary and nationalist leagues as well as affected by a change in its leading elites. In the same time, the integration of the rallied Catholics of the Action libérale populaire reinforced the social Catholic trend in its ranks, a change symbolized by Louis Marin's substitution to Auguste Isaac as President of the Republican Federation in 1924.

Under Marin's leadership, the Republican Federation slowly adopted the model of the political party created by the left at the turn of the century. The party became more hierarchisesd, with the creation of youth' sections, etc., while ordinary members were given more weight.

Although several members of the party participated to the Doumergue, Flandin and Laval governments of 1934-35, most of the Republican Federation opposed itself to this rallying which gave reason to the "conjunction of centers" strategy defended by the Democratic Alliance. Following the experience of the Bloc National first, and then of the Cartel des gauches (Left-Wing Cartel) in 1924, many voices inside the party argued in favor of a strategy enforcing the unity of the right-wings instead of a centrist strategy. After the February 6, 1934 riots which toppled the second Cartel des gauches, the majority of the party chose this right-wing strategy, taking the side of the opponents to the Republic accused of being "anti-patriotic."

The Republican Federation thus formed in 1937, during the Popular Front, a Front de la liberté (Freedom Front) along with Jacques Doriot's fascist Parti populaire français (PPF, French Popular Party) and the small Parti républicain national et social and French Agrarian and Peasant Party (Fleurant Agricola). Although this Freedom Front was theorized by Louis Marin and the other leaders of the party as a tactic against the growing influence of colonel de la Rocque's French Social Party (PSF) — one of the first right-wing French mass party — this union also corresponded with the ideology of the leading classes outside Paris (such as Victor Perret in the Rhône region) and of the activists opposed both to the lefts and to the center-right parties such as the Democratic Alliance or the Popular Democrats.

This shift to the right of the party during the 1930s explain that several important pre-war figures of the party left it (i.e. Laurent Bonnevay). The Republican Federation became a meeting point between the parliamentary right and the nationalist and anti-Republican right organized in the various far-right leagues and in the monarchist Action française. Party members such as Philippe Henriot or Xavier Vallat (both future Collaborationists) thus served as intermediaries between the leaders of the Republican Federation and the extra-parliamentary right.

After 1940

Although few important members of the Republican Federation actively engaged in Collaborationism during the Vichy regime, their conservative allegiance (traditional Catholicism, anti-communism, conservative nationalism) induced most of them to accept the new regime of the Révolution nationale. The Federation was part, however, of one of the six member parties of the Conseil national de la Résistance (CNR, National Council of Resistance), represented by Jacques Debû-Bridel. Alongside Louis Marin, the latter tried, without success, to recreate the Republican Federation at the Liberation. But the party remained discredited by the passive attitude of most of its members. After 1945, the National Center of the Independents was the main political structure pursuing the Republican Federation's legacy, after the failure of several structures, including the Republican Party of Liberty.

In Parliament

In the Chamber of Deputies

The Republican Federation deputies sat in the following parliamentary groups in the Chamber of Deputies of France:

In the Senate

The Republican Federation senators sieged in the ANRS group (Action nationale républicaine et sociale, National Republican and Social Action), at least until 1936.

List of Presidents

Electoral results

Chamber of Deputies
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
1906 1,864,557 (#2) 21.16
78 / 585
Auguste Isaac
1910 1,565,698 (#2) 19.08
119 / 595
11px 41
Auguste Isaac
1914 397,547 (#5) 4.72
37 / 601
11px 82
Auguste Isaac
1919 1,819,691 (#1) 22.23
183 / 613
11px 146
Auguste Isaac
1924 3,190,831 (#1) 35.35
102 / 581
11px 81
Auguste Isaac
1928 2,082,041 (#2) 21.99
102 / 604
Louis Marin
1932 1,233,360 (#4) 12.88
59 / 607
11px 43
Louis Marin
1936 1,666,004 (#3) 16.92
60 / 610
11px 1
Louis Marin



  1. ^ René Rémond, Les Droites en France, Aubier, 1982

Further reading

  • William D. Irvine, French conservatism in the crisis : The Republican Federation of France in the 1930s, Bâton Rouge, 256p, 1975.
  • Jean Vavasseur-Desperriers, Culture, structures, stratégie d'une organisation de la droite parlementaire entre les deux guerre : la Fédération Républicaine de 1919 à 1940, University Lille 3, state thesis under the dir. of Yves-Marie Hilaire, 914p, 1999.
  • Jean Vavasseur-Desperriers, « Mise en sommeil et disparition : la Fédération républicaine de 1940 à 1946 », in Gilles Richard & Jacqueline Saincliver (dir.), La recomposition des droites à la Libération 1944-1948, 2004.
  • Laurent Bigorgne, « Le parcours d'une génération de ‘modérés’ : les jeunes de la Fédération Républicaine », in François Roth (dir.), Les modérés dans la vie politique française (1880-1965), 2000.
  • Jean Vavasseur-Desperriers, « La Fédération républicaine, Louis Marin et l'idée de paix pendant l'entre-deux-guerres », in Robert Vandenbussche a Michel (dir.), L’idée de paix en France et ses représentations au XXe siècle, 2001.
  • Jean Vavasseur-Desperriers, « De la présence à la distance: les milieux d'affaires et la Fédération républicaine », in Hervé Joly (dir.), Patronat, bourgeoisie, catholicisme et libéralisme. Autour du Journal d'Auguste Isaac, Larhra, 2004
  • Mathias Bernard, La dérive des modérés. La Fédération Républicaine du Rhône sous la Troisième République, Editions l'Harmattan, 432p, 1998.
  • Malcolm Anderson, Conservative politics in France, Allen and Unwen, 1974.
  • Jean-Noël Jeanneney, « La Fédération Républicaine », in Rémond & Bourdin (dir), La France et les francais 1938-1939, 1979.
  • Philippe Machefer, « L’union des droites, le PSF et le Front de la liberté, 1936–1937, RHMC, 1970.
  • Kevin Passmore, The Right in France from the Third Republic to Vichy., Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • René RémondJanine Bourdin, « Les forces adverses », in Renovin & Rémond (dir.), Léon Blum, chef de gouvernement 1936-1937, 1981.
  • René Rémond, Les droites en France, Aubier, 544p, 1982 (réed. De 1954).
  • Jean Vavasseur-Desperriers, « Les tentatives de regroupement des droites dans les années trente », Annales de Bretagne et des pays de l'ouest, 2002.
  • Bruno Béguet, Comportements politiques et structures sociales : le Parti Social Français et la Fédération Républicaine à Lyon (1936–1939), Université Lyon 2, mémoire de maîtrise sous la direction de Yves Lequin, 2 volumes, 252p, 1982.
  • Kevin Passmore, From liberalism to fascism. The Right in a French Province, 1928-1939, (study on the Rhône department) Cambridge university press, 333p, 1997.

External links