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New Left Review I/26, July-August 1964


J. M. Vincent

The Left in France

In 1958, the coalition of Gaullists and spokesmen for Algérie française routed the French labour movement without serious effort. This defeat, which has strongly stepped up what political scientists call ‘depoliticization’, gave free scope to Gaullist initiatives for quite some time. The elimination of the Algerian problem, which might have shaken up French social structures, led in fact to a strengthening of the Fifth Republic. Since then, the Gaullists in power have gone as far as to cut back the right to strike, to refuse the workers in the public services many more-than-justified pay-rises and then, since the end of 1963, they have put into operation a programme of economic and financial ‘stabilization’, whose declared aim is to halt wage-rises. Prime Minister Georges Pompidou—unlike any leader under the Fourth Republic—can now permit himself to say that his government is against reducing the profits of the large capitalist concerns. Politically, the authoritarian character of the régime has grown more acute, without the anti-Gaullist parties being willing or able to offer any serious resistance. Reform of the administration and of the system of municipal elections has been pushed through Parliament with almost no blockage: reforms meant to reinforce, if not actually fix for eternity, the domination of Gaullist organizations.

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