What Happened In The Plebiscite In 1800 On The Question Of A New Constitution For France?


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Richard Marsden answered
In order for the constitution to become legal, it had to be "submitted in accordance with the French people". Therefore, in February 1800, a plebiscite was held in which voters opted to either support or oppose the constitution. Officially, 3,001,007 voted in favour and only 1,562 against.

The intention of the referendum was to secure legitimacy for a discredited regime. When it was clear that a poor turnout was inevitable, the administration falsified the returns to ensure the desired result. It was thought that up to 20,000 votes were added onto the final count, roughly double the number of overall voters. Also, intimidation and malpractice was a possibility as the voting took place on an open list. In addition, the constitution was already illegally in operation and to vote "no" could have caused unrest. Judging by these factors, it is hard to state whether public opinion was in favour of the new regime.

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