1797 French legislative election

The French Directory election of 1797 was held between 21 March and 2 April 1797 to elect a third of the Legislative Body of the Directory, that is to say 2/3 of the lower house, the Council of Five Hundred and the upper house, the Council of Ancients. The 1797 election marks the beginning of the 1/3 vote of its type. An election occurs each year with a third of the deputies up for election.

1797 French Directory election

← 1795 21 March – 2 April 1797 1798 →

A third of the seats in the Council of Five Hundred and the Council of Elders, as well as vacant seats
  First party Second party Third party
  Louise Adélaïde Desnos, née Robin (1807-1870) - Le général Comte Dumas (1753-1837).jpg Lazare-Carnot-par-Boilly.jpg Paul Barras directeur.jpg
Leader Mathieu Dumas Lazare Carnot Paul Nicolas Vicomte of Barras
Party Clichy Club Maraisards Thermidorians
Seats before 54 0 63
Seats won 105 44 28
Seat change Increase 51 Increase 44 Decrease 35
Percentage 59.32 24.86% 15.82%

Assemblée législative 1797.svg
Composition of the National Assembly

President of the Council of Five Hundred before election

Pierre-Antoine Lalloy

Elected President of the Council of Five Hundred

Jean-Charles Pichegru
Clichy Club


Following the events of the Conspiracy of Equals, the Jacobins and Montagnards lost their majority in the house, due to their support of François-Noël Babeuf. This led to a massive pro-Royalist push in the country, which increased with the impending end to the War of the First Coalition.[1]

Though the Royalists disagreed on who they would want to see as the proper pretender to the throne, they did in-fact agree that legally being elected would be the only means which they would re-establish the monarchy. Then, they would call for the dissolution of the Directory, but see the recreation of the Constitution of 1791 with a new National Assembly. The Royalists were also divided on the future however, with the Absolutists (later known as the Ultra Royalists) preferring a return to the absolute Ancien Régime under Louis, Count of Provence (future Louis XVIII) and supported the now two-year old Quiberon Expedition. The 'Constitutionalists' (later known as the Liberals or Doctrinaires) favoured a constitutional monarchy in addition to supporting individual rights and property in addition to freedoms and fair elections. The constitutionalists later began meeting at the 'Clichy Club', hence the new name, in addition to their nickname, the 'Clichyens'.[2][3]


Following the election, the Royalists gained a supermajority, beyond that which was expected. The Directory now comprised 182 new deputies of pro-constitutional monarchy, 44 ultra-royalists, and 34 republicans. The latter included two new Jacobins, Joseph Bonaparte and Jean-Baptiste Jourdan. In addition to the nearly 200 new seats taken by the Royalists, there were around 100 other royalist deputies already present and more than 130 other deputies likely to accept a constitutional monarchy.[4]

Less than six months after the election, fearing a return to the monarchy, the Coup of 18 Fructidor was carried out. The coup removed all those accused of being "pro-Monarchist" or those who had supported those deputies. According to most historians, the coup marked the beginning of the "Second Directory period" which is described as the "Authoritarian Directory".[5][6]

Seats up for election
Party Leader Seats %
Clichy Club Mathieu Dumas 105 59.32%
Maraisards Lazare Carnot 44 24.86%
Thermidorians Paul Barras, Vicomte de Barras 28 15.82%
Total 177 100%


  1. ^ Woronoff, pp. 65–66
  2. ^ le Bozec, p. 93
  3. ^ Woronoff, p. 69
  4. ^ Tulard, p. 27
  5. ^ Woronoff, p. 73
  6. ^ le Bozec, p. 97


  • Woronoff, Denis (2004). La République bourgeoise de Thermidor à Brumaire 1794-1799. France: Éditions du Seuil. ISBN 978-2757846704. OCLC 1191043797.
  • Tulard, Jean (1991). Le Directory et le Consulat. History of Socialism in France. France: Presses Universitaires de France. ISBN 978-2130439806. OCLC 802676216.
  • le Bozec, Christine (2014). La Première République, 1792 – 1799. Paris, France: Éditions Perrin. ISBN 978-2262040918. OCLC 871312113.