Born June 7, 1920, in La Hoguette, Calvados Department. A leader of the French and international labor movement. The son of a worker.
Marchais worked as a lathe operator. During World War II, he spent a year doing forced labor in fascist Germany before he escaped. In 1947 he joined the French Communist Party (FCP). From 1954 to 1961 he was secretary of the FCP federation of Seine-Sud (Seine Department, Paris District). A candidate member of the Central Committee in 1956, he was elected a full member of the Central Committee and a candidate member of the Politburo of the FCP in 1959. In 1961, Marchais became a member of the Politburo and secretary of the Central Committee of the FCP. At the Nineteenth Congress of the FCP in 1970 he was elected the deputy general secretary of the party. At the Twentieth Congress of the FCP in 1972, he was elected general secretary of the party.
Marchais was active in working out the strategic and tactical decisions of the FCP adopted by the Plenum of the Central Committee at Champigny in 1968 (the manifesto ’Toward an Advanced Democracy and a Socialist France”) and subsequently by the Nineteenth through Twenty-second Congresses of the FCP. He headed the FCP delegation in negotiations with the Socialist Party for the development of a common government program of left-wing forces (1972). Since 1973, Marchais has been a deputy in the National Assembly of France.
Marchais took part in the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties held in Moscow in 1969. He was the leader of the FCP delegation that engaged in top-level negotiations in Moscow with a delegation of the CPSU (1971). The talks concluded with the adoption of a joint communique of the CPSU and FCP on July 3, 1971.
Marchais is the author of the book Democratic Challenge (1973).