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Popular Front (France)

Why the French Popular Front Failed

Now that the discredited French Popular Front is out of office and in dissolution, the people who originated it are busy holding inquests and explaining why it failed. The Communists take a simple line. The Daily Worker (June 1st, 1939) says that the Front “suffered a setback because the whole force of British reaction was launched against it and there was no British Popular Front to rally to its defence.” This is a half-truth that is both untimely and unconvincing. Among the fairly consistent defenders of the French Popular Front Government was the London Times; and if the success of the Popular Front in France depended wholly on events in Great Britain, the proper time to say so was in 1936 before the Popular Front took office. At that date, however, the French Communists were in the Popular Front themselves and were making the most extravagant forecasts of its success.

The United Front in France

At the General Elections which took place in France late in April and early in May there was a considerable gain of seats by the parties grouped together in a “United Front.” As a consequence a new Government has been formed, under the premiership of Mr. Leon Blum, the leader of the French Labour Party (“Socialist Party of France”). In the Cabinet with members of his party are also representatives of the French Radical Federation. The Communists (who promoted the United Front) while unwilling to enter the Cabinet, promise to give loyal support in Parliament and in the constituencies. The supporters of the Labour and Communist Parties are overjoyed at what they regard as a victory of outstanding importance. They foresee the early destruction of the power of the French ruling class and the abolition of poverty and unemployment and, naturally, the British Communists urge that this example of unity be copied here without delay.

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