The 1981 elections in France represented a victory not only of the left and the forces of labor over the right and capital, but one also of the gradualists over the radicals in the labor movement. Step by step Francois Mitterrand had achieved his grand design — uniting and revitalising a socialist party out of the ruins of the SFIO, engaging a political alliance that strengthened the socialists at the expense of the communists, defying and defeating his allies in electoral competition and forcing their capitulation before a program bearing the marks of class compromise. For the victory of the left, essentially electoralist in nature, came as a setback for the PCF, the CGT and working class movements, which remained divided and generally immobilised by the delegation of power. Bowing to popular aspirations for change, the PCF conceded defeat, fell into line behind Mitterrand and undertook a review of past errors that had led to the loss of one quarter of its electorate.
Recommended CitationMoss, Bernard, A vanguard behind the times? Bernard Moss on the French Communists, Australian Left Review, 1(82), 1982, 38-46.