Parti républicain, radical et radical-socialiste

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Parti républicain, radical et radical-socialiste
Party leader Gustave Mesureur (1901–02)
Émile Combes (1905–06; 1910–13)
Édouard Herriot (1919–26; 1931–36; 1945–57)
Édouard Daladier (1927–31; 1936–39; 1957–58)
Maurice Faure (1961–65; 1969–71)
Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber (1971–75)
founding 1901
resolution 1972
replaced by Parti radical valoisien (legally identical) and Mouvement de la gauche radicale-socialiste (split off)
Headquarters 1, place de Valois 75001 Paris (historic)
Alignment radicalism

The Parti républicain, radical et radical-socialiste (German "Republican, radical and radical-socialist party") of 1901, or Parti radical for short , was a republican , liberal and left-wing French party from which similarly named splits emerged. In German one speaks often, especially for the period of the Third Republic (until 1940), of the "radical socialists". The radical in the name historically refers to the rejection of the monarchy and the advocacy of the values ​​of the French Revolution (see also radicalism ). The party inherited the "socialist" part of its name from a predecessor party.

It was the first modern mass party to appear nationwide in France, where until then there had been alliances of individual parliamentary groups. Until 1936 it formed the strongest voting power of the moderate left and in the Fourth Republic (until 1958) provided several prime ministers . Well-known radical prime ministers were Georges Clemenceau , Édouard Herriot , Édouard Daladier and Pierre Mendès France .

Since the 1960s, it had been a minor, minor party that had moved from the center-left to the center-right. In 1972 the party split over the question of whether to support the socialist Mitterrand together with the communists in the 1974 presidential election . The proponents of the idea became the Mouvement de la gauche radicale-socialiste (later Parti radical de gauche ). The remaining rump of the party under Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber , which was more likely to seek alliances with the bourgeois parties, was legally identical to the historical Parti radical, but was often referred to as Parti radical valoisien (after its seat on Place de Valois in Paris). In 2017, the two successor parties merged to form the Mouvement radical . With that the Parti républicain, radical et radical-socialiste ceased to exist legally.


After 1830, the supporters of the July Monarchy used the term “radicals” to politically marginalize the Republicans . From 1835 the Republicans increasingly referred to themselves as parti radical , the self-designation republican was forbidden in this epoch. According to the self-image of its representatives, radicalism in 1842 was “the doctrine of renewal based on conscience and reason” ( cette doctrine d'innovation qui prend pour la base la conscience et la raison ); The radicals saw themselves at that time - in contrast to the liberals and other supporters of moderate reforms - as champions of a fundamental renewal of political institutions.

In the Second Empire , too, the radicals made their mark as the opposition , for example with the Belleville program (1869), which was supported by the later Prime Minister Léon Gambetta .

Third Republic until the First World War

At the turn of the century, the radicals formed an economically and socially more centrist, anti-clerical , anti- monarchist and thus (radical) republican ideological movement. Radical groups already won 24 percent in the 1898 elections. Under Prime Minister Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau there was a republican alliance from 1899 to 1902, in which the daily working time was limited to 11 hours and women and child labor were regulated. Submission of the church to the new association law was rejected by the chamber . In 1901 the parliament passed a law that made the existence of religious orders dependent on legal approval. This created a lever for the dissolution of church communities.

The Parti républicain, radical et radical-socialiste was founded in 1901. Today it is known as the Parti radical historique . At that time it was often referred to only as Parti radical socialiste (PRS, dt. "Radical Socialist Party") and emerged from the amalgamation of several left and centrist currents as a result of the Dreyfus Affair . In the politically extremely unstable times up to the end of the Third Republic in 1940, the party appointed the Prime Minister 31 times in rapidly changing cabinets.

After the victorious elections of 1902, there was a large majority in favor of an alliance of radicals and socialists , led by Émile Combes . In the same year 3,000 church schools not approved by the state were closed and the government stopped paying the bishops; in the following year all religious orders were dissolved. In 1905 there was a complete separation of church and state with the “ Loi Combes ”. All ownership of churches and buildings went to the state. 2500 church schools were closed, crucifixes were removed from public buildings, and religious education in state schools was abolished. The leader of the French Socialist Party, Aristide Briand, who was responsible for chairing the committee, was in charge of preparing the law .

Georges Clemenceau , Prime Minister 1906-09 and 1917-20

From 1906 to 1909, Georges Clemenceau , who shortly before had broken with the socialists under Jean Jaurès because of a military operation he had initiated against a miners' strike , now led the government as a radical. Under Clemenceau, France and Great Britain came closer, which was expressed in 1907 in the " Entente cordiale ". In addition, the course for the introduction of income tax was set by Clemenceau's Finance Minister Joseph Caillaux . Clemenceau was followed by Aristide Briand as radical prime minister. In 1906 he entered a bourgeois government as a minister and was therefore expelled from the Socialist Party (SFIO). The government declared the general strike of the railway workers called on October 12, 1910 to be a military and economic danger for France. The conscript-age strikers were called up, the others threatened with dismissal. Under the radical Prime Minister René Viviani , who was also expelled from the SFIO in 1906 for joining a bourgeois government, the income tax was finally introduced in 1914.

In the run-up to the First World War and at the beginning of the war, the conservative President Raymond Poincaré of the Alliance Démocratique played the dominant role. Under Poincaré, in response to German rearmament in 1913, the service of conscripts in the French army was extended to three years. During the war, the Radical Party took part in the national all-party government, the Union sacrée . With Aristide Briand and, from 1917, with Georges Clemenceau, she made important prime ministers during the war.

Interwar period

Édouard Herriot , the longest-serving party leader in the history of the Parti radical (1919–26, 1931–36 and 1945–57)

After the First World War, the conservatives were able to win an absolute majority of votes and 70% of all parliamentary seats in 1919 with the help of “independent radicals” who did not want to support any left majorities. The parliamentary alliance was called " Bloc National ". For the first time since the turn of the century, the Conservatives were able to dominate both the Chamber and the government for an entire legislative period. In the spirit of the “Union sacrée”, the post-war years were marked by an emphatically national unity, which is why the radicals (in contrast to the socialists) also support the government.

The Poincaré II government (January 15, 1922 to March 29, 1924) had the Ruhr area occupied in January 1923 because of payment problems with the German reparations . The rejection of this occupation led to a rapprochement between radicals and socialists, which in 1924 led to a left-wing alliance that had been prepared by groups such as the League for Human Rights . Together with the Socialists, the Radical Party won a parliamentary majority in the May 1924 election under this Cartel des Gauches . With only 38 percent of the vote, this alliance still had a parliamentary majority. However, the socialists never went into government under the cartel, the alliance was a parliamentary one. During this period the troops were withdrawn from the Ruhr area and the Soviet Union was diplomatically recognized. As part of the Locarno Treaties , Germany was admitted to the League of Nations and relations between Germany and France relaxed.

Because of internal campaigners in the "Cartel des Gauches" - there was a break between radicals and socialists - the Conservative Poincaré formed its fourth government in July 1926. Within the framework of the existing parliamentary majorities, this became possible because the radicals switched sides. This broad government, known as Union nationale , ranged from the radicals to the nationalist Fédération républicaine until 1929.

In 1928 the radicals turned back to the SFIO, the Cartel des Gauches for the parliamentary elections in April 1928 was revived . The cartel lost relatively few votes, but the majority ratios were reversed in favor of the conservatives due to electoral arithmetic.

Édouard Daladier , party leader of the radicals 1927–31, 1936–39 and 1957–58; Prime Minister three times between 1933 and 1940

In May 1932, the Cartel des Gauches under Édouard Herriot, as an alliance of radicals with the SFIO and smaller socialist groups, won 46 percent of the vote. The majority, however, were fragile because of the internal fragmentation of the Cartel des Gauches . The communist Parti communiste français (PCF) was still not part of the cartel. As early as December 1932, Herriot resigned in the dispute over the inter-allied war debts , followed by several short-lived cabinets, all of which failed due to the challenges of the global economic crisis . After the riots in the right-wing extremist leagues on February 6, 1934, a national union with the participation of the radicals, who once again switched sides, came back to power , although a left majority in the chamber was still possible .

With the Parti radical-socialiste Camille Pelletan (PRS-CP, "radical socialist party Camille Pelletan"), the left wing of the Parti split in 1934 radical off because he was not with the formation of a center-right coalition led by Gaston Doumergue agree was. The splinter party could not establish itself permanently in the French party system and disappeared again with the end of the Third Republic.

In the parliamentary elections of April 26th and May 3rd, 1936, the “ Front populaire ” consisting of radicals, SFIO and PCF won. The latter had no ministers in government, but supported the alliance in parliament, where the Popular Front had a solid majority with 57 percent of the vote. For the first time, the SFIO won more votes than the Radical Party, making Léon Blum France's first socialist premier. The government implemented numerous social reforms.

For the first time (three) women were in government. Vincent Auriol was Minister of Finance; Charles Spinasse Minister of Economic Affairs. The government wanted - in the Keynesian sense - to stimulate the economy through consumption. Because of the neutral stance in the Spanish Civil War, which was demanded by the radicals, but also by Great Britain, it came to a rift with the PCF.

Blum's second term - March 13 to April 8, 1938 - lasted less than a month. He resigned after the - conservatively dominated - Senate denied him full financial freedom.

Until shortly the end of the republic there was a government under the radical Édouard Daladier . This government initially followed Chamberlain 's policy of appeasement , which resulted in support for the Munich Agreement of September 1938. War was declared on Germany on September 3, 1939.

État français and Provisional Government

Under the impression of the catastrophic political instability in the run-up to the war, which was also blamed for the defeat in June 1940 , the National Assembly voted in Vichy in July 1940 with 569 to 80 votes for the end of the Third Republic. The État français was created in place of the republic and the way was cleared for Marshal Pétain's authorization as Chef d'État . The vast majority of radical MPs voted for authorization, but some against. Some of the pétain opponents, e.g. B. Édouard Daladier , Pierre Mendès France , Jean Zay , then fled to North Africa on the passenger steamer Massilia .

The Radical Party was involved in the provisional government under Charles de Gaulle from September 1944 to November 1945 with four ministers (including Jules Jeanneney as Ministre d'État , Pierre Mendès France for economics). However, Mendès France resigned in April 1945 because of disagreement over the direction of economic policy. The radicals were not involved in de Gaulle's second cabinet .

Fourth republic

Pierre Mendès France, Prime Minister 1954–55

In the fourth republic (1946–1958) the radicals were an important party, but they could no longer follow their pre-war dominance. In the rapidly changing cabinets between 1947 and 1958, they appointed the prime minister 12 times (more often than any other party). They always ran together with the Union démocratique et socialiste de la Résistance (UDSR) - which emerged from the anti-communist part of the resistance - in the party alliance Rassemblement des gauches républicaines .

From 1947 the radicals were permanently involved in the government as part of the Troisième Force (third force), which formed as a counterforce to communists and Gaullists . This alliance was able to secure a majority in 1951, not least through creative electoral reform in the run-up to the parliamentary elections.

Under the radical Prime Minister Pierre Mendès France (1954–1955), who rejected French colonialism, with the backing of the moderately conservative President René Coty, the war in Indochina was ended and the North African protectorates of Tunisia and Morocco were granted independence. Because of disagreements on this colonial question, some of the radicals split off and formed a center-right party.

For the elections in January 1956, the Front républicain was formed from SFIO, radicals, UDSR and left-wing Gaullists. The alliance became relatively the strongest force and, as before, has a mandate majority with the support of the PCF. Nonetheless, the situation was extremely unstable, especially because of the war in Algeria that had flared up since 1954 , which led to De Gaulle's return to power and the proclamation of the Fifth Republic in 1958 .

Fifth Republic

In the parliamentary elections in 1958, the right won the largest election since 1902 with 46%, while the left lost over four percentage points. For the first time since 1924, the center-left (communist PCF, socialist SFIO and radicals) lost an absolute majority to the center-right. The radicals competed as an independent force and reached 8.4%. In the first government of the Fifth Republic - the Debré cabinet - the radicals were briefly represented from January to May 1959 with Jean Berthoin as interior minister. Then they went into opposition. In the Fifth Republic, which was initially completely dominated by Gaullism, they no longer played an essential role. As an independent party, the radicals ran for the last time in the 1962 parliamentary elections and received 7.8% of the vote.

For the 1965 presidential election , the radicals backed the joint leftist candidate (including the PCF), François Mitterrand , who won a respectable 45% but was defeated by de Gaulle. In the parliamentary elections of 1967 and 1968, the Radical Party integrated into the “non-communist left” of the Fédération de la gauche démocrate et socialiste (FGDS), including the SFIO and Mitterrands Convention des institutions républicaines (CIR; emerged from the UDSR ). In the 1967 elections the FGDS achieved 19% and in 1968 16.5% of the vote. The FGDS alliance dissolved in 1968. For the 1969 presidential election , the Parti radical supported the Christian Democrat Alain Poher from the Center démocrate , who was defeated by the Gaullist Georges Pompidou in the second ballot .

Division and Succession

Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber , last party chairman before the split

In 1971 the journalist Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber (known as "JJSS"), editor of the news magazine L'Express , was elected chairman of the Parti radical. Together with the Christian Democrat Jean Lecanuet , he sought an alliance of reform-oriented, non-Gaullist bourgeois groups. This Mouvement Réformateur , founded in November 1971, was intended to be an alternative to the Gaullists on the one hand and the left-wing camp on the other. This led to the split, as the left wing of the radicals instead wanted to run together with socialists and communists in the upcoming parliamentary elections as part of the Union de la gauche initiated by François Mitterrand . However, the majority of delegates at the Radical Party's congress on June 26, 1972 supported Servan-Schreiber. Nevertheless, on July 12, 1972 , Robert Fabre of the left wing of the Parti radical signed with Mitterrand (PS) and Georges Marchais (PCF) the joint government program of the left (program commun) .

Subsequently, on October 4, 1972, the Mouvement de la gauche radicale-socialiste (MGRS, "Movement of the Radical-Socialist Left") split off from the Parti radical under the leadership of Fabre and the former party chairman Maurice Faure . The MGRS later renamed itself Parti radical de gauche (PRG, "Left Radical Party") and in the following four decades functioned mostly as a small partner of the socialists.

The remaining trunk of the Parti radical retained the name and legal personality of the historical Radical Party from 1901, but is usually referred to as Parti radical valoisien after the address of its headquarters in rue de Valois . In ideological terms, in contrast to the party history, it is much closer to the right-wing bourgeois camp. From 1978 to 2002 the Parti radical valoisien was part of the bourgeois-centrist Union pour la démocratie française (UDF), which supported President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing . From 2002 to 2011 it was an associated party (while maintaining its legal independence) of the Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP) of Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy . From 2012 to 2017 he was part of the centrist party alliance Union des démocrates et indépendants (UDI).

Even after the split in the historical Parti radical, the Gauche démocratique faction continued to exist in the Senate (from 1989 under the name Rassemblement démocratique européen , RDE, from 1995 Rassemblement démocratique et social européen , RDSE), who until 2011 were senators of both the Parti radical de gauche as also belonged to the Parti radical valoisien. After the upheavals in the French party system that emerged in the 2017 presidential and parliamentary elections, the Parti radical de gauche and Parti radical valoisien came closer together again. They merged in December 2017 to form the Mouvement radical (social libéral). However, the PRG left the movement radical again in March 2019.


The radicalism is a difficult categorisable for German-speaking ideological expression of liberalism because he the political thrust of the left bourgeoisie represents. The radical bourgeoisie has been an integral part of political life in France since the French Revolution of 1789. It was also responsible for the surveys of 1830 and 1848 and an important part of the Paris Commune of 1871. In Germany and Austria, radicalism corresponds most closely to left-wing liberalism . As in France, the radicals also played an important political role in Switzerland for a long time, for example in the course of regeneration . In France, the radical bourgeoisie had a much longer lifespan. Around 1900 it was the strongest political force in the country and an integral part of the political party landscape until the middle of the 20th century.

The term 'radical' underlines the complete rejection of the monarchy and the advocacy of a radical break in the political system towards a republic with universal suffrage instead of census suffrage . This differentiates the radicals in the 19th century from moderate liberals, who advocate a constitutional monarchy . The choice of means is also radical, because revolutionary and therefore violent measures may have been approved - this is how the party defended the historical achievements of the French Revolution, including the Terreur . In this context, it must be taken into account that the monarchist currents in the third French republic from 1870 to the turn of the century achieved remarkable election results. The radical party also stood above all for secularism and anti-clericalism , that is, a repression of the (Catholic) Church from public life.

During the Third Republic, the radicals became a party that supported the state, advocated the preservation of private property and mostly behaved pro-colonial. She wanted to solve the social question through moderate reforms. Progressive income tax and the introduction of social security have been on the agenda since the 1890s . Not untypical of radicalism is its ability to change, especially to the right. In labor disputes, representatives of radicalism did not shy away from authoritarian or violent measures to break up strikes. For example, in the case of the miners' strike in the Pas-de-Calais department in 1906, the Minister of the Interior, Georges Clemenceau, who came from the radical socialist camp, had military means defeated.

The radical party formed various alliances with left and right parties in everyday political life and was represented in all possible government constellations. A left-wing alliance with a majority was formed four times:

  • 1902 in the Bloc des gauches with the socialist SFIO and the then centrist-republican-oriented Alliance démocratique , which later developed into the most important center-right force in the French party spectrum. The alliance had 53 percent of the vote and a large majority of mandates.
  • 1924 in the Cartel des gauches with the socialist SFIO. With only 38 percent of the vote, this alliance still had a parliamentary majority. The cartel remained in place for the 1928 elections and lost relatively few votes, but the majority ratios were reversed in favor of the Conservatives due to electoral arithmetic.
  • 1932 in the Cartel des Gauches with the socialist SFIO and smaller socialist groups. This time the alliance achieved 46 percent of the vote, the majority was much more fragile due to the internal fragmentation of the Cartel des Gauches .
  • 1936 in the Front Populaire with the socialist SFIO and the communist PCF . The latter had no ministers in the government, but supported the alliance in parliament, where the Popular Front had almost a 2/3 majority in seats with 57 percent of the vote.

Radical Party election results

  • 1898: 7.8%
  • 1902: 32.8%
  • 1906: 28.5%
  • 1910: 32.1%
  • 1914: 34.8%
  • 1919: 17.9%
  • 1924: 17.9%
  • 1928: 17.8%
  • 1932: 19.2%
  • 1936: 14.5%
  • 1945: 10.5%
  • June 1946: 11.6%
  • November 1946: 11.1%
  • 1951: 10.2%
  • 1956: 11.0%
  • 1958: 8.3%
  • 1962: 7.8%

From 1945 to 1956 the Radical Party ran with the Union démocratique et socialiste de la Résistance (UDSR) in the party alliance Rassemblement des gauches républicaines .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Christiane Rimbaud: L'affaire du Massilia, été 1940. Seuil, Paris 1984.