Radical Socialist Party
Radical Socialist Party
(Radical Party; Parti Républicain Radical et Radical-Socialiste), a French bourgeois party, founded in June 1901 at a congress in Paris by supporters of the political currents of radicalism and radical socialism that emerged in the last third of the 19th century. The Radical Socialist Party set itself a double task: to defend the parliamentary republic against the threat of clerical-monarchist and Bonapartist reaction and to forestall a socialist revolution through political and social reforms. The official party program was adopted in 1907, at the seventh party congress.
Politically, the Radical Socialist Party sought to maintain at all costs universal suffrage and democratic freedoms, to complete the separation of church and state, and to create a unified system of secular public education. The party’s social planks included a progressive income tax, social security and pensions for workers, and the nationalization of some monopolies and sectors of the economy. While denying the need to socialize the means of production, the Radicals advanced the Utopian slogan of “extending property to everyone.” Under the Third Republic, the social basis of the party consisted mainly of the petite and middle bourgeoisie, the peasantry, and the intelligentsia.
After coming to power in 1902, the party formed governments through coalitions with other bourgeois parties. During elections it often formed alliances with the Socialists, who supported the party in parliament; the Radicals and Socialists formed a left bloc between 1902 and 1905 and between 1924 and 1926. The party participated in the Popular Front from 1936 to 1938. The most prominent leaders of Radicalism included G. Clemenceau in the 19th century, L. Bourgeois, E. Combes, and C. Pelletan before World War I, and E. Herriot between the two world wars.
The Radical Socialist Party broke up during World War II but was reestablished in 1944 and participated in governments of the Fourth Republic. Under the Fifth Republic, the Radicals stood in opposition to C. de Gaulle’s personal rule. In 1965 they joined the Federation of the Democratic and Socialist Left, which together with the Communists ran a single candidate in the presidential elections. Incessant internal strife concerning the question of right or left orientation for the party and cooperation with the Communist Party led to a party split in 1971. The right wing, which was headed by J.-J. Servan-Schreiber and remained in the party, entered into an agreement with the Democratic Center, which had been founded in 1965. In July 1972 the Movement of Left Radicals, headed by R. Fabre, accepted the Common Government Program of the Left, which had been adopted by the Communist and Socialist parties. The founding congress of the Movement of Left Radicals was held in December 1973.
S. N. GURVICH