Cartel des Gauches

Cartel des Gauches

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The Cartel des gauches (French for Left-wing Coalition) was the name of the governmental alliance between the Radical-Socialist Party
Radical-Socialist Party (France)
The Radical Party , is a liberal and centrist political party in France. The Radicals are currently the fourth-largest party in the National Assembly, with 21 seats...

 and the socialist French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) after World War I (1914–18), which lasted until the end of the Popular Front
Popular Front (France)
The Popular Front was an alliance of left-wing movements, including the French Communist Party , the French Section of the Workers' International and the Radical and Socialist Party, during the interwar period...

 (1936–38). The Cartel des gauches twice won general elections, in 1924 and in 1932. The first Cartel was led by Radical-Socialist Édouard Herriot
Édouard Herriot
Édouard Marie Herriot was a French Radical politician of the Third Republic who served three times as Prime Minister and for many years as President of the Chamber of Deputies....

, but the second was weakened by parliamentary instability. Following the 6 February 1934 crisis
6 February 1934 crisis
The 6 February 1934 crisis refers to an anti-parliamentarist street demonstration in Paris organized by far-right leagues that culminated in a riot on the Place de la Concorde, near the seat of the French National Assembly...

, president of the Council Édouard Daladier
Édouard Daladier
Édouard Daladier was a French Radical politician and the Prime Minister of France at the start of the Second World War.-Career:Daladier was born in Carpentras, Vaucluse. Later, he would become known to many as "the bull of Vaucluse" because of his thick neck and large shoulders and determined...

 had to resign, and a new Union Nationale coalition, led by conservative Gaston Doumergue
Gaston Doumergue
Pierre-Paul-Henri-Gaston Doumergue was a French politician of the Third Republic.Doumergue came from a Protestant family. Beginning as a Radical, he turned more towards the political right in his old age. He served as Prime Minister from 9 December 1913 to 2 June 1914...

, took power.

The first Cartel des gauches (1924-26)


The Cartel des gauches, formed by the Radical-Socialist and the SFIO, was created in 1923 as a counterweight to the conservative Bloc National, which had won the 1919 elections with 70% of the seats (the "Blue Horizon Chamber"). Formed by the Alliance Démocratique, the Fédération Républicaine, Action Liberale (issued from the right-wing members who had "rallied" themselves to the Republic), the nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

s and a part of the radicals, the Bloc National had played on the red scare following the 1917 October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 to win the elections.

The left-wing coalition included four different groups: the independent radicals (the right-wing of the Radicals); the Radical-Socialist
Radical-Socialist Party (France)
The Radical Party , is a liberal and centrist political party in France. The Radicals are currently the fourth-largest party in the National Assembly, with 21 seats...

, which had united together, the Socialist Republicans
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 and independent socialists (Paul Painlevé
Paul Painlevé
Paul Painlevé was a French mathematician and politician. He served twice as Prime Minister of the Third Republic: 12 September – 13 November 1917 and 17 April – 22 November 1925.-Early life:Painlevé was born in Paris....

) and the SFIO. The Cartel organized a network of committees in the entire country, and started publishing a daily newspaper (Le Quotidien) and a weekly, Le Progrès Civique.

Due to the division of the right-wing, the Cartel won the elections on 11 May 1924, after the French government
History of France
The history of France goes back to the arrival of the earliest human being in what is now France. Members of the genus Homo entered the area hundreds of thousands years ago, while the first modern Homo sapiens, the Cro-Magnons, arrived around 40,000 years ago...

's failure to collect German
History of Germany
The concept of Germany as a distinct region in central Europe can be traced to Roman commander Julius Caesar, who referred to the unconquered area east of the Rhine as Germania, thus distinguishing it from Gaul , which he had conquered. The victory of the Germanic tribes in the Battle of the...

 reparations
World War I reparations
World War I reparations refers to the payments and transfers of property and equipment that Germany was forced to make under the Treaty of Versailles following its defeat during World War I...

 even after occupying the Ruhr
Occupation of the Ruhr
The Occupation of the Ruhr between 1923 and 1925, by troops from France and Belgium, was a response to the failure of the German Weimar Republic under Chancellor Cuno to pay reparations in the aftermath of World War I.-Background:...

. The left-wing obtained 48.3% of the votes, and the right-wing 51.7%, but the Cartel gained the majority of seats, with 327 against 254 (the right-wing and the first communist deputies
French Communist Party
The French Communist Party is a political party in France which advocates the principles of communism.Although its electoral support has declined in recent decades, the PCF retains a large membership, behind only that of the Union for a Popular Movement , and considerable influence in French...

). The new majority was led by Édouard Herriot, and broke up in 1926, with the SFIO passing into the opposition. Capital flight
Capital flight
Capital flight, in economics, occurs when assets and/or money rapidly flow out of a country, due to an economic event and that disturbs investors and causes them to lower their valuation of the assets in that country, or otherwise to lose confidence in its economic...

 and the failure to retrieve the reparations created a monetary crisis, which led to the creation of a new government by the right-wing Raymond Poincaré
Raymond Poincaré
Raymond Poincaré was a French statesman who served as Prime Minister of France on five separate occasions and as President of France from 1913 to 1920. Poincaré was a conservative leader primarily committed to political and social stability...

. As soon as Poincaré formed his new government, composed of the right-wing and of the radicals, the monetary crisis ended.

The second Cartel des gauches (1932-34)


The right-wing then won the 1928 legislative elections
French legislative election, 1928
Legislative elections in France to elect the 14th legislature of the French Third Republic were held on 22 and 29 April 1928.-Popular Vote:-Parliamentary Groups:...

, with 329 right-wing deputies against 258 for the left. As in previous elections, the radicals presented themselves with the left.

In 1932 the second Cartel won the elections, but there was no left-wing majority associating the radicals with the SFIO. The socialists asked for specific conditions in exchange for their participation in the government (known as "conditions Huygens"). Several governments fell in quick succession, each led by radicals allied with the "moderates". This parliamentary majority, distinct from the electoral majority, was weak. This parliamentary instability, coupled with the Stavisky Affair
Stavisky Affair
The Stavisky Affair was a 1934 financial scandal generated by the actions of embezzler Alexandre Stavisky. It had political ramifications for the French Radical Socialist moderate government of the day...

, provided a pretext for the 6 February 1934 riots
6 February 1934 crisis
The 6 February 1934 crisis refers to an anti-parliamentarist street demonstration in Paris organized by far-right leagues that culminated in a riot on the Place de la Concorde, near the seat of the French National Assembly...

 organized by far right leagues
Far right leagues
The Far right leagues were several French far right movements opposed to parliamentarism, which mainly dedicated themselves to military parades, street brawls, demonstrations and riots. The term ligue was often used in the 1930s to distinguish these political movements from parliamentary parties...

. The following day, the radical-socialist president of the Council Édouard Daladier was forced to resign due to pressure by the rioters. It was the first time during the Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 (1871–1940) that a government fell because of demonstrations, and the left-wing became convinced that its fall was assisted by a fascist
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 conspiracy to overthrow la gueuse (the beggar), as the royalist Action Française
Action Française
The Action Française , founded in 1898, is a French Monarchist counter-revolutionary movement and periodical founded by Maurice Pujo and Henri Vaugeois and whose principal ideologist was Charles Maurras...

called the Republic. This prompted the creation of left-wing anti-fascist coalitions including the Comité de vigilance des intellectuels antifascistes
Comité de vigilance des intellectuels antifascistes
The Watchfulness Committee of Antifascist Intellectuals was a French political organization created in March 1934, in the wake of the February 6, 1934 riots organized by far right leagues, which had led to the fall of the second Cartel des gauches government...

and other similar groups. This broad left-wing coalition eventually led to the formation of the Popular Front
Popular Front (France)
The Popular Front was an alliance of left-wing movements, including the French Communist Party , the French Section of the Workers' International and the Radical and Socialist Party, during the interwar period...

, which won the elections in 1936, bringing to power Léon Blum
Léon Blum
André Léon Blum was a French politician, usually identified with the moderate left, and three times the Prime Minister of France.-First political experiences:...

.

Further reading

  • Colton, Joel. Léon Blum, Humanist in Politics (1968)
  • Jackson, Julian. The politics of depression in France 1932-1936 (2002)
  • Jackson, Julian. The Popular Front in France: Defending Democracy, 1934-38 (1990)
  • Larmour, Peter. The French Radical Party in the 1930's (1964)

See also

  • France in Modern Times (1920-today)
  • French Third Republic
    French Third Republic
    The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

     (1871–1940)
  • Radical-Socialist Party (France)
    Radical-Socialist Party (France)
    The Radical Party , is a liberal and centrist political party in France. The Radicals are currently the fourth-largest party in the National Assembly, with 21 seats...

  • French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO)
  • History of the Left in France
    History of the Left in France
    The Left in France at the beginning of the 20th century was represented by two main political parties, the Republican, Radical and Radical-Socialist Party and the French Section of the Workers' International , created in 1905 as a merger of various Marxist parties...