Saturday, May 06, 2006

70 years ago

This week saw the 70th anniversary of the coming to power of the Popular Front government.  France Inter had a feature on this, Wednesday evening. One député at the time described it as a scandal for the Gallo-Roman civilisation of France, to have a Jew as a Prime Minister. This was a widespread opinion on the Right.

One question that was asked by many people (it was a kind of phone-in programme) was why did the Popular Front government not give more support to the Spanish Republicans, faced with the fascist insurgency led by Franco. The answer given was that the Popular Front was an alliance of diverse left and liberal forces. Léon Blum wanted to give more help to Spain and so did the Communists, but the Radicals, a more middle-class party, drawing much of its support from the self-employed was strongly opposed. Sentiment in France was strongly pacifist at that time. 

Some pictures: Il y a 70 ans, le Front populaire.

I saw a TV programme in France a week or so ago, about economic nationalism in France and Germany in the 'thirties. I didn't see all of it, but what I did was fascinating. One suggestion made was that it was not Hitler's programme that led to economic recovery and a reduction in unemployment, but the actions of the previous government (mainly cutting wages). (5 / Arte, 25 April).

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