May 1946 French constitutional referendum

A constitutional referendum was held in France on 5 May 1946.[1] Voters were asked whether they approved of a new draft Constitution proposed by the Constituent Assembly elected in 1945 (the "Constitutional Bill of 19 April 1946").[2]

May 1946 French constitutional referendum

5 May 1946

Votes %
Yes 9,454,034 47.18%
No 10,584,359 52.82%
Valid votes 20,038,393 97.43%
Invalid or blank votes 528,985 2.57%
Total votes 20,567,378 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 25,829,425 79.63%

The draft Constitution, approved by the Constituent Assembly on 19 April 1946, was supported by the Communists and the Socialists. It concentrated power in a unicameral Assembly and abolished the Senate of France.

Moderates, Radicals, and the Popular Republican Movement (MRP) campaigned against the referendum. The "No" coalition warned the voters against the danger of a "dictatorship" of an Assembly dominated by the Marxists, which could question the existence of private property. In the "Yes" coalition, the SFIO refused the Communist proposition of a common campaign.

The draft Constitution was rejected by 52.8% of voters, with a turnout of 79.6%.[2] It was the first referendum in France in which the proposal put to voters was rejected.

As a result of the vote, the Constituent Assembly elected in 1945 was dissolved and fresh elections for a new Constituent Assembly were held on 2 June 1946. This second Constituent Assembly adopted a different draft Constitution on 29 September 1946. This second draft was submitted to the French people in the referendum of 13 October 1946 and was approved, resulting in the enactment of the Constitution of the French Fourth Republic, signed into law by the President of the Provisional Government on 27 October 1946.


Choice Metropolitan France Total
Votes % Votes %
For 9,109,771 47.0 9,454,034 47.2
Against 10,272,586 53.0 10,584,359 52.8
Invalid/blank votes 513,054 528,985
Total 19,895,411 100 20,567,378 100
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p674 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ a b Nohlen & Stöver, p684