PresidentPatrice de MacMahon dissolved the Chamber of Deputies elected in 1876, in the hope of a conservative and royalist victory. Although the monarchists lost the election, they increased their seat total over 1876; the Republicans lost 80 seats, but retained a majority.
This election proved a serious setback for those hoping for a restoration of the monarchy, such as MacMahon. In the Senate elections of January 1879, the monarchists also lost control of the Senate. MacMahon resigned, and the Republican Jules Grévy was elected president by the National Assembly.
Along with the 1997 election, it is a rare case of an election in which the sitting President's party lost a general election which he had called.