The Reckoning

  • R. W. Johnson


The defeat of March 1978 shattered the morale of (in Mitterrand’s phrase) the people of the Left. On the parties and unions of the Left its effect was that of a fragmentation bomb, hurling each organisation centrifugally away from every other while simultaneously splintering them internally. This effect was visible within days — even hours — of the second ballot on 19 March. Michel Rocard, interviewed on television as the results rolled in, made little attempt to hide his view that the insufficiencies of Mitterrand’s leadership were partly to blame for the PS disaster. ‘Fortunately,’ he added, ‘it’s only three more years from now to 1981.’1 With this, the gauntlet was thrown down for a bitter struggle over the PS presidential nomination — and thus, inevitably, the party leadership. Robert Fabre, the MRG leader, was equally quick to react, declaring that the result freed him from all commitments he had made since signing the Common Programme in 1972. Drawing the lesson from the double defeat of the MRG and the Union of the Left, he would tender his resignation from the party ’s leadership. Giscard, never one to miss a chance of wooing over further fractions of the Centre-Left, quickly invited Fabre to the Elysée, an invitation which was as quickly accepted.


Trade Union Social Democracy Presidential Candidate European Election Common Programme 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 60.
    F. Cohen, A. Adler, M. Decaillot, C. FriouxandL. Robel, L’URSS et Nous (Paris: 1978). The book frankly admitted Stalin’s large influence on the PCF, which had led the Party into all manner of errors and to ignore the works of Trotsky, Gramsci, Bukharin, and Rosa Luxemburg. But the authors also wondered aloud whether Marxism-Leninism itself was any longer a useful formula — after all not even Marx or Lenin had been infallible … The book also pointed an accusing finger at Thorez for having failed to follow Togliatti’s example in 1956 and traced in painful detail the PCF’s continuing subservience to Stalinist myths into the 1960s, claiming that this had lain behind the Party’s failure to grasp the true significance of May 1968. It had, said the authors, taken the Prague invasion of 1968 finally to dispel the scales from the Party’s eyes.Google Scholar
  2. 139.
    J. Jaffré in Le Nouvel Observateur, 15–21 October 1979.Google Scholar
  3. 143.
    J. Jaffré in Le Nouvel Observateur, 15–21 October 1979.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© R. W. Johnson 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. W. Johnson

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations