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Main articles:Popular Front (France)andLéon BlumIn 1920, the socialist movement split, with the majority forming the French Communist Party. Theminority, led byLéon Blum, kept the name Socialist, and by 1932 greatly outnumbered thedisorganized Communists. WhenStalintold French Communists to collaborate with others on theleft in 1934, apopular frontwas made possible with an emphasis on unity against fascism. In 1936,the Socialists and the Radicals formed a coalition, with Communist support, to complete it.[103]The Popular Front's narrow victory in theelections of the spring of 1936brought to power agovernment headed by the Socialists in alliance with the Radicals. The Communists supported itsdomestic policies, but did not take any seats in the cabinet. The prime minister was Léon Blum, atechnocratic socialist who avoided making decisions. In two years in office, it focused on labour lawchanges sought by the trade unions, especially the mandatory40-hour work week, down from 48hours. All workers were given a two-weekpaid vacation. Acollective bargaininglaw facilitated uniongrowth; membership soared from 1,000,000 to 5,000,000 in one year, and workers' political strengthwas enhanced when the Communist and non-Communist unions joined together. Thegovernmentnationalizedthe armaments industry and tried to seize control of theBank of Franceinan effort to break the power of the richest 200 families in the country. Farmers received higherprices, and the government purchased surplus wheat, but farmers had to pay higher taxes. Waveafter wave of strikes hit French industry in 1936. Wage rates went up 48%, but the work week wascut back by 17%, and the cost of living rose 46%, so there was little real gain to the average worker.The higher prices for French products resulted in a decline in overseas sales, which the governmenttried to neutralize bydevaluingthe franc, a measure that led to a reduction in the value of bonds andsavings accounts. The overall result was significant damage to the French economy, and alowerrate of growth.[104]Most historians judge the Popular Front a failure, although some call it a partial success. There isgeneral agreement that it failed to live up to the expectations of the left.

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Charles de Gaulle, French Republic, Leon Blum, Appeal of 18 June,

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