The 1881 general election was held on 21 August and 4 September 1881. This election marked the collapse of the right compared to the 1877 election.
It was a great success for the followers of Léon Gambetta, whom President Jules Grévy appointed premier two months after the election. His government only lasted 73 days, however, before falling over the issue of electoral reform. This led to three short-lived minority governments, until Jules Ferry was able to form a second government in February 1883 with the support of Gambetta's Republican Union.