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H.F. Roberts

French C.P. Gets First Payment

Radicals Elect Cachin in Gratitude for Services

(9 November 1935)

From New Militant, Vol. 1 No. 46, 9 November 1935, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

On October 21, the day after the French senatorial elections, l’Humanité, organ of the C.P., appeared with a banner headline: “Victory of the People’s Front.” Under the masthead was the proud legend: “Director – Marcel Cachin, Senator from the Seine.” Modestly, the new dignitary in a front page article admitted that “for the first time a Communist has penetrated into the French Senate.”

The significance of this world-shaking event is described by Paul Vaillant-Couturier as “a parry to the threats of the Fascist leagues against bread, liberty and peace. The country remains firmly attached to the traditions willed to it by the glorious French revolutions.” (l’Humanité, Oct. 21.)

Social Patriot Comes into His Own

France has proved itself true to its revolutionary traditions. It has elected Marcel Cachin, social-patriot of 1914 and of 1935, to the Senate! The day is saved. Our beloved leader, Joseph – pardon me – Marcel Cachin is the hero of the hour. His election, cries the Central Committee of the French Stalinist party, shaken with emotion, “is a symbol of the unswerving attachment to the Communist International, to the victory of the Front Populaire of peace, bread and liberty.”

it is worthwhile stopping briefly to examine this “victory” of the Front Populaire. [The elections in the Seine were for the purpose of filling ten vacancies in the Senate, to be selected by the vote of the electors, corresponding to the municipal councillors and other local officials and deputies. A majority was required for election. The electors totalled 1,246.] The results gave eight seats to the ticket of the Front Populaire – but also elected Pierre Laval and his confrere, Flancette.

This came about in an exceedingly curious manner. Seven Front Populaire candidates received the requisite majority (624 or more votes). Only Cachin failed! What had happened? Leon Blum himself tells us on the front page of Populaire, organ of the S.P. (Oct. 21) that “about 100 delegates of the Front Populaire did not vote for Cachin on the first ballot.”

People’s Front Votes for Laval

Where did those votes go? No less than 90 of them, says Blum, went to Laval – who was also elected on the first ballot – polling 647 votes. The unbreakable front of the Front Populaire cracked to let Laval into the Senate as representative of the Seine!

Grinding its teeth at this humiliation, l’Humanité charges Doriot with responsibility. Doriot, it seems, betrayed the Front Populaire by preventing the St. Denis delegates from voting for his old friend Cachin. Populaire brightly suggests that not a few delegates, selected from all colors in the front, were bought over.

Give the Dog His Bone

At any rate, this defection caused alarums and excursions. Between the first and second ballots (additional ballots were required to fill the two seats still vacant) the victorious Radicals and Socialists agreed that “the Communists had loyally voted. It is an essential duty to vote for them.” Give the dog his bone. He’s earned it. Hasn’t he foresworn Communist independence? And wouldn’t the workers be following a real lead from an organization with such resources? By all means, give the dog his bone

So to the second ballot. This time 619 were needed to win. A desperate yank pulled Cachin across, a winner with 620 – only two votes ahead, of Fiancette. A close shave for our Marcel!

Let us examine the ballot counts more carefully. In the first count the candidates for the Front Populaire lined up as follows:

Mounie, Radical Socialist



Sellier, S.F.I.O.


Fleurot, Rep. Socialist


Steeg, Radical Socialist


Auray, French Socialist


Bacfaelet, Pupist


Morizet, S.F.I.O.


Cachin, C.P.


Clamamus, C.P.


Piginier, C.P.


On the Laval list, the premier himself came in, elected, with 647votes. Fiancette polled 575 with the other candidates trailing. Thusthe first seven on the Front Populaire list and Laval wereelected.

“The Deserving Cachin”

Note that no less than 211 votes separated Cachin from the Radical Socialist at the top of the list. In the second ballot, which brought Cachin in only two votes ahead of Fiancette, his 620 votes were still 181 votes from the Mounie total. This gives some suggestion as to the position of the Stalinists in this bloc of classes, in which the Mounies, the Selliers, the Fieurots. the Steegs – “passionately devoted to the national defense” – are leading the French version of the Kuomintang – and in which Cachin who “knows no enemies in the French people” (l’Humanité, Oct. 6), is symbolically in its place at the tail end.

“Better discipline in the Front Populaire would have brought more decisive results.” said l’Humanité on Oct. 22. “Our Communist Party could point to the sacrifices it has made in the Seine to give satisfaction to all the groups in the Front Populaire ’ but it shall not stop for useless recriminations.” And this was under the heading “More Than Ever – Front Populaire!”

Class and party independence have been entirely surreiidered by the French Stalinists – for a seat in the Senate. For a seat in the government tomorrow they – and their reformist bureaucratic blood brothers, Blum, Faure, Zyromski and Co. – will deliver up the workers to the Fascists, to the cannon of imperialist war.

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