Australian Left Review

Abstract

Soon after the signing of the "Common Programme for a Government of Left Union" by the French Communist Party (PCF), Socialist Party (PS) and Left Radicals, the Socialist leader Francois M itte rran d remarked to his Second International colleagues in Vienna that in time the PCF vote in the French electorate would be reduced to 15 percent of the electorate with equivalent gains tran sfe rrin g to the socialists.1 At the time those claims may have seemed outrageous and extravagant but, today, with a communist vote of just over 15 percent in the presidential elections of May 1981 and the parliamentary elections of the following month, and substantial socialist victories in those elections, they seem positively prophetic. The victory of Mitterrand in the presidential elections, and the left in the French parliamentary elections, marks a significant advance for the left in France. It compels us to look at some aspects of the history of the French left and its strategy for electoral victory as a way of understanding the situation of the socialist movement in France.

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