The concept of universal suffrage originally referred to all male citizens having the right to vote, regardless of property requirements or other measures of wealth. The first system to explicitly claim to use universal suffrage was France which is generally recognized as the first national system to abolish all property requirements for voting. In theory France first used universal (male) suffrage in 1792 during the revolutionary period, although the turmoil of the period made this ineffective. France and Switzerland have used universal male suffrage continuously since 1848 (for resident male citizens), longer than any other countries.
In most countries, full universal suffrage - with the inclusion of women - followed universal male suffrage by about ten to twenty years. A notable exception is France, where women could not vote until 1946.