Rally of the French People

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Rally of the French People


(RPF; Rassemblement du Peuple Français), a party founded by General C. De Gaulle in April 1947. The RPF claimed to be beyond party politics— a union of all Frenchmen regardless of their political views. It became, however, a right-wing bourgeois party and put forth anticommunist and nationalist positions when the cold war began and the sociopolitical struggle in France intensified.

Basically, the RPF’s program was to radically reform the constitution of the Fourth Republic, extend the prerogatives of the head of state at the expense of parliament, and introduce certain social reforms. Unlike ordinary right-wing groups, the RPF had broad support and a strong, hierarchical organization that included the armed “service of order.” The first secretary-general of the RPF was J. Soustelle, chief of De Gaulle’s secret service during World War II; his successor from 1951 to 1954 was L. Terrenoire. The party was financed by the large banks and the leading monopolies, including the aviation, automotive, and chemical industries.

Although it received more than 4 million votes in the 1951 elections and won 121 seats in the National Assembly, the RPF failed to assume power. The party did poorly in the municipal elections of April 1953, receiving only 10 percent of the total vote. On May 6, 1953, De Gaulle released the RPF deputies from their party commitments and the party ceased to exist de facto. On Sept. 14, 1955, the RPF was officially dissolved and partially transformed into a small party, led by J. Chaban-Delmas, called the National Center of Social Republicans. In the last parliamentary elections of the Fourth Republic on Jan. 2, 1956, the Social Republicans received 840,000 votes and won 20 seats in the National Assembly.


Purtschet, C. Le Rassemblement du Peuple français, 1947–1953. Paris, 1965.