France: Survival Politics

Survival Politics

As a scowling Prime Minister Michel Rocard watched, one communist National Assembly Deputy after another dropped a small mahogany ball in a green urn on the Speaker's platform. Once allies of Rocard, the communists now sided with the opposition, and were voting in favor of censuring the government. But Rocard survived, 293 to 284.

Since Francois Mitterrand became President in 1981, his fragile alliance of socialists and communists seemed destined to rupture. The dispute ostensibly centered on a new social security tax, but the motives of the communists go deeper. During the past nine years, the communists have watched their electorate...

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