Page 7, 24th April 1936

24th April 1936
Page 7
Page 7, 24th April 1936 — Sunday's French Elections

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Sunday's French Elections

A Move To The Left

But Any Victory Will Prove Barren

From Our French Correspondent

What are the prospects? That is the question being asked all over France and being asked also by all Europeans interested in the future. It is certain that a great Left victory would have a violent repercussion in international affairs.

In reality where do we stand?

It seems clear that the sweeping victory anticipated by the Front Populaire, with its socialist-communist tendency, is less certain than appeared to be the case some months ago. This Left organisation has certainly laid down its programme adroitly.

It retains a sufficiency of socialistic principles to avoid antagonising either the socialists or the communists, while at the same time excluding anything that would arouse apprehension among those electors who have a horror of extremism and might apprehend revolutionary trouble and violence.

Communist Patriotism!

Even more, the most advanced party, the communists, by a turn of attitude long prepared and decided by Moscow, sings small about its internationalism and worldrevolution tenets. FollovJing, in policy, the communist Thorez, whose advice was to "reconcile the tricolour, the flag of our fathers, with the red flag of our hopes,' they would figure as nationalists. Even the militants of the party do not hesitate to appeal to a nationalistic and patriotic spirit which the socialists have proclaimed as treason!

All this is evidently no more than electoral dust-throwing. It seeks to decoy in this way the largest possible number of the electorate, and so would make at least some concessions in the programme.

But how many will be taken in? That is the question.

One sees that the leaders of the Front Populaire themselves have doubt of victory. A week ago, the prophets gave 20 seats (— 5) to the Right, to the Mann Group 48 seats (-F 8), the Right Centre 145 (— 19), the Left Centre 40 (— 20), the Radical-Socialists 140 (— 20), the Socialist Union 60 (-17 10), the S.F.I.O. Socialists 120 (-F. 25), and the Communists 42 (d22). These forecasts have sunk rapidly in value during an electoral campaign in which the local press, even more than that of the capital, has played a considerable part.

M. Blum's Calculation

To-day, we find even the socialist leader, Leon Blum, making a. declaration that makes one doubt in the victory of the Front Populaire. He believes that after the elections about sixty Radical-Socialists will leave the Front Populaire.

That change will exactly deprive the Front Populaire of its majority in the Chamber. This calculation of Blum seems to correspond to the facts. Therefore, even if victorious the Left will in fact not dispose of a working majority.

It may further be added that the Chamber will be even less of a Left Chamber than the Socialists imagine. For the Radical-Socialists will not gaily accept an amputation whereby they would lose sixty followers, and one can foresee that their leader, M. Daladier, rather than accept it, will work for the unity of his party by detaching the whole of it from the Front Populaire, thus depriving the latter of 140 votes!

Hence even though the Left were victorious, its victory would be barren, and this, nr doubt, is what Blum foresees when working for a coalition between Socialists and Radical-Socialists. He knows quite well that such a Front Populaire government will never in fact come into being.

In conclusion, one may say that a barren victory for the Front Populaire is possible, but much less possible than was imagined on the Left until lately. •

A Dwindling Majority

During the days following the elections the Front Populaire majority will be whittling away through the retreat of the Radical-Socialists. Only the Socialists and the Communists will remain faithful —and for how long?

Still, let us not deceive ourselves. Even though the above-mentioned break occurs, the idea of the Front Populaire will live. And new groupings under the mystic title will rise again.

Of what kind will they be? Will they be anti-clerical in tendency? Anti-clericalism is supvosed to be dead, but it only sleeps.

Will they be anti-capitalist? Anti-capitalism seems not to be the present feeling of the masses, but a crisis or slump could increase the feeling beyond measure. And there is the example of Spain.

Will they be pacifist? The Left orators have lately been reproaching the Right for their pacifism during these last days!

The future alone can tell. All we know is that the next Chamber will find it hard enough to keep order and to find a working equilibrium whatever , happens.

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