France: The Pact of the Left

The Communist Party is the second largest political organization in France. Outnumbered only by De Gaulle's massive Union pour la Nouvelle Republique, it can count on drawing at least 20% of the votes in any nationwide election, and on winning at least 10% of the seats in the National Assembly. Despite its strength, however, it does not play a significant role in French politics. Since 1947, when the cold war began in earnest, the Communists have been rebellious outcasts, shunned by bourgeois parties and by the non-Communist left as well.

Last week their isolation abruptly ended. Wearing a broad smile and...

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