A foreign observer of French municipal life may find it surprising how few studies there are on participation in local politics. 1 In comparison with other countries where there is a strong tradition of electoral studies of local democracy, 2 local electoral turnout has not been a central issue in the French political science literature. 3 Furthermore, France was not covered by some of the early comparative research programmes on participation. For example, Almond and Verba preferred Great Britain, Italy and Germany to France as European cases for their study on civic culture (1963). The comparison of seven countries published by Verba and his colleagues in 1978 included Austria, the Netherlands and Yugoslavia in Europe but not France. The absence of France from international surveys partially explains why there is little research of a quantitative nature devoted to political attitudes, participation and involvement at the local level.