The Popular Front

As the depression affected the French economy a succession of weak governments had difficulties to cope with the crisis. And as in Germany, there was much criticism of parliament as a mere talking shop. As a result fascist-type groups, called the Leagues (Croix de Feu) formed and in 1934 the Leagues stormed parliament.

To overcome the danger of Fascism the Communists called for a 'Popular Front' composed of the Socialist Repub.Union, the Communists and Socialists. The Popular Front won the elections of spring 1936; and Leon Blum became Prime Minister of France, the first Socialist to hold that office.

Although the Com. Party refused to cooperate in the gvt, Blum pushed through a reform package: the 40-hr week, three weeks' annual holiday with pay, collective bargaining, recognition of the right to unionize, nationalization of the Banc de France, etc.

At first Blum refused to devalue the franc or to create a budget deficit. The later devaluation of the franc failed to lead to a revival of economic life or the elimination of unemployment. When the Senate refused to grant Blum the requested authority to eliminate the fiscal crisis the Cabinet resigned in 1937. The subsequent Popular Front Cabinets (to April 1938) saw the gradual dissolution of the Popular Front.