Marriage of Convenience

"It is not normal that there should be more than 5 million French men and women who choose the Communist Party," Francois Mitterrand told his Socialist supporters back in 1971. Those may seem to be hypocritical words for a politician who later joined the Communists in an alliance and who, after his election as President in 1981, became the first head of a major NATO member to offer Cabinet posts to Communists. But they accurately reflect the deep-rooted mistrust that continues to trouble the Socialist-Communist marriage of convenience.

For the Socialists, the present coalition is part of a shrewd gambit to neutralize...

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