Path: Table of Contents > Essay on Party Politics > Party 112
French Radical Socialist Party, 112
Variables and Codes for 1950-1962
For the concepts and variables below, use these links to Political Parties: A Cross-National Survey:
Governmental Status
Issue Orientation
Goal Orientation
Organizational Complexity
Organizational Power
Organizational Coherence
Membership Involvement
The "ac" code is for "adequacy-confidence"--a data quality measure ranging from 0 (low) to 9 (high)
Party Name and Code number
French Republican Radical and Radical Socialist Party, 112, Parti Republicain Radical et Radical-Socialiste (Usually called just Radical Socialist)

Institutionalization Variables, 1.01-1.06
1.01 Year of Origin and 1.02 Name Changes
1901, ac7
15, ac4
Most sources agree on 1901 as the date of origin for the Radical Socialist Party, although some sources fix the origin as 1885 when parliamentary deputies were grouped together as radicals. But there is general agreement on the organization beginning in 1901. From one standpoint, there has never been a name change, for radicals have operated in French politics since the party's founding and through our time period. However, the party participated in a series of publicized alliances which featured distinct labels, and changing party labels complicated the history of the radicals. Thus, in 1946, the radicals entered the Rassemblement des Gauches (RGR), which included the radicals until 1956, when the RGR was formed as a separate party by Faure after his expulsion from the radicals. Then in 1962, some Radical Socialist deputies formed the Rassemblement Democratique. Several other terms were applied to radical deputies of various inclination--not counting the union Democratique et Socialiste de la Resistance (UDSR), included in the RGR and often included in tallying radical votes. Our name change code reflects a major change in each period--1941-49, 1950-56, and 1957-62, for a score of 15. The ac is low indicating that our judgment is disputable.
1.03 Organizational Discontinuity
14, ac9
A major split occurred in the party in 1955 with Faure's expulsion and the ascendancy of the followers of Mendes-France over the so-called neo-radicals on the right wing of the prty. Another but less important fissure developed over the Departuf Morice in 1956. Another major split developed in 1958, when Mendes-France and some of his supporters left to form the Centre D"action Democratique.
1.04 Leadership Competition
16, ac9
There was a continuing struggle for power in the party, especially since Mendes-France and his followers tried to assume control and reorient its policies. There were often times when it was hard to tell who was in charge, but the post of party president was contested, won, and lost in the party congresses.
1.05 Legislative Instability
Instability is .28, ac5
Radical parliamentary representation includes "associates", primarily the UDSR, although the radicals and UDSR delegates maintained separate groups in the assembly, even when united as the RGR.
1.06 Electoral Instability
Instability is .22, ac7
Data are for four elections held in 1951, 56, 58, and 62. The a/c suffers because of questions as to which "associated" party groupings ought to be included in the Radical Socialist column.

Governmental Status Variables, 2.01-2.07
2.01 Government Discrimination
0 for 1950-62, ac6
The electoral law of 1951 worked to the disadvantage of the communists and the Gaullists, and the law of 1958 worked to the disadvantage of the communists, but the interpretation of this code is that the law was neutral with respect to the radicals
2.02 Governmental Leadership
7 out of 8 for 1950-57, ac9
1 out of 5 for 1958-62, ac9
The radicals could claim these premiers from 1950 through 1957 - Queuille in 50 and 51, Faure in 52, Mayer in 53, Mendes-France in 54 and 55, Faure again in 55, Bourges-Maunoury in 1957, and Gaillard in 1957. Gaillard also held the post for several months in 1958.
2.03 Cabinet Participation
8 out of 8 for 1950-57, ac9
1 out of 5 for 1958-62, ac9
The radicals operated very much as a governmental party during the first part of our time period, figuring in cabinet coalitions in almost a continuous string throughout. But with the advent of the fifth republic, the radicals were excluded from government participation as they opposed the new constitutional structure.
2.04 National Participation
5 for 1950-57, ac6
5 for 1958-62, ac5
According to 1956 sample survey data, these four regions of France--Paris and north, west, east, and center/south--contributed to the radical socialist vote somewhat disproportionately when compared to their proportions of the population. The radicals derived about 40 percent of their support from the center/south region, which had only about 28 percent of the population. The average deviation of support across these four regions was 9.5 percentage points.
2.05 Legislative Strength
Strength is .14 for 1950-57, ac6 and .08 for 1958-62, ac5
Radical parliamentary representation includes "associates", primarily the UDSR, although the radicals and UDSR delegates maintained separate groups in the assembly, even when united as the RGR.
2.06 Electoral Strength
Strength is .13 for 1950-57, ac7 and .10 for 1958-62, ac7
Data are for four elections held in 1951, 56, 58, and 62. The a/c suffers because of questions as to which "associated" party groupings ought to be included in the Radical Socialist column.
2.07 Outside Origin
4, ac6
Two major radical groups in parliament, the republican radicals and the socialist radicals, fused to form the radical republican and radical socialist party in 1901, becoming the largest party in the chamber of deputies.

Issue Orientation Variables, 5.01-5.15
 5.01 Ownership of Means of Production
1 for 1950-62, ac7
Committed to private property it accepted some government ownership and controlmore control than owners hip.
5.02 Government Role in Economic Planning
0 for 1950-62, ac5
Except for a period in the middle 1950"s, prompted by the urgings of Mendes France, the radicals were generally in opposition to government direction of the economy except for plans of agricultural development. The overall score reflects ambivalence at best.
5.03 Redistribution of Wealth
1 for 1950-62, ac6
Worked against the extension of income tax and even favored reduction of inheritance taxes to create wealth.
5.04 Social Welfare
1 for 1950-62, ac6
Seemed concerned over the statism that would develop from the extension of social welfare programs. Its record on social welfare measures was mixed. It supported the principle of social security but was concerned about its implementation.
5.05 Secularization of Society
2 for 1950-62, ac7
Traditionally anti-clerical, the radicals divided over the issue of state subsidies to church schools, with the majority voting in opposition to the Barange measure. While Laicite, or anti-clericalism, was still a rallying point for the radicals, the issue clearly became blunted over the years.
5.06 Support of the Military
1 for 1950-62, ac3
Very little evidence in the literature on this question. Radicals did tend to oppose the atomic strike force for France in the 1960"s.
5.07 Alignment with East-West Blocs
5 for 1950-62, ac7
Anti-Soviet attitudes were especially prominent during the neo-radical period before and perhaps after Mendes-France.
5.08 Anti-Colonialism
3 for 1950-57, ac8 -
1 for 1958-62, ac5
The link between the radicals and colons, French settlers in Algeria, was strong during the first half of our time period, with reports that the radical party was heavily funded by the colons. For a period during Mendes-France's leadership around 1956, the party swerved away from its strong stand in opposition to Algerian independence, but the withdrawal from colonial commitments was not well received. After Mendes-France's departure, the radicals lapsed back into a colonial posture, trying to salvage as much as possible from the Algerian situation, although the party was not as coherent in its colonial position.
5.09 Supranational Integration
0 for 1950-62, ac5
French participation in European integration divided the party, whose deputies held views ranging from moderate European integrationism to intense nationalism.
5.10 National Integration
1 for 1950-62, ac3
Although the literature does not address this issue specifically, the inference would be that the party's strong roots in local governments would render it something far less than integrationist in the establishment of national authority. But note the low adequacy-confidence code associated with this judgment.
5.11 Electoral Participation
5 for 1950-62, ac3
This issue was no longer salient in French politics, but the radicals were presumed to favor the existing situation of universal adult suffrage.
5.12 Protection of Civil Rights
3 for 1950-62, ac3
The literature does not dwell on discrimination against minority groups, so the radicals" position has to be inferred from radical philosophy. Despite their opposition to the right in the Dreyfus affair, the radicals cannot be described as strongly in favor of civil rights because this would involve a willingness to use state power to suppress discriminatory practices, which is contrary to the radicals" fear of centralized state authority. Note, however, the uncertainty of this judgment as reflected in the low adequacy-confidence code.
5.13 Interference with Civil Liberties
3 for 1950-62, ac3
Again, this is a position that has to be inferred in the absence of specific information, but the intense individualism that exudes from the radical philosophy suggests that the party opposes restrictions on free expression of opinion--at least on political matters.
5.14 / 5.15 US--Soviet Experts Left-Right Ratings
US says 2, center
Soviets say, 2 party serving the petty and middle bourgeoisie, wealthy peasants, and intelligentsia, but also a party of the democratic left.

Goal Orientation Variables, 6.01-6.55
6.00 Open Competition in the Electoral Process
4 for 1950-62, ac9
The radical party was clearly electorally-oriented. The literature does not depict the party as especially energetic in election campaigns, however.
6.10 Restricting Party Competition
0 for 1950-62, ac9
Owing to their position in the middle of the left-right continuum, the radicals had considerable leeway in forming electoral alliances with other parties for elections of deputies. But this practice ought not be interpreted as restricting competition. Excepting the radicals support of electoral legislation that discriminated against the communists and, for a time, gaullists, the radicals did not follow a policy of restricting party competition.
6.20 Subverting the Political System
0 for 1950-62, ac9
These activities were not part of the radicals orientation to politics.
6.30 Propagandizing Ideas and Program
6.31--0, ac3. There is evidence of party affiliation, but no decisive statement as to whether the party operated these newspapers.
6.32--0, ac3. The radical socialists did not appear to have operated party schools.
6.332 for 1950-57, ac6 and 2 for 1958-62, ac9. The radical socialists frequently passed resolutions and programs defining its political ideology.
6.34--1 for 1950-57, ac6 and for 1958-62, ac1. The radical socialists published position papers. In 1956, this was organized on a quarterly basis. There is no information relating to the second half of our time period.
6.50 Providing for Welfare of Party Members
0, ac3
There is no reference to any radical socialist participation in social welfare activities for its members.

Autonomy Variables, 7.01-7.05
7.01 Sources of Funds
7 for 1950-62, ac3
The sale of membership cards and subscriptions to publications seems to have provided the bulk of radical finances, although the literature does not discuss party finance much. It is clear that campaign funds were supplied to radical candidates by the Counseil National du Patronat Francais (CPNF), the national council of French employers, which also supported other non-communist candidates. But in the absence of better information, we doubt that this outside support accounted for more than 1/3 of radical expenditures.
7.02 Source of Members
4 for 1950-62, ac6
The radical party was rather unique in extending membership to organizations and newspapers as well as individuals. But newspaper membership appears to have declined during our time period.
7.03 Sources of Leaders
3 (sector 03), ac6
Accepting deputies elected to parliament in the 1956, 1958, and 1962 elections as party leaders, it seems that about 60 percent can be classified in the educational/scientific/professional category.
7.04 Relations with Domestic Parties
4 for 1950-57, ac9
7 for 1958-62, ac8
During the first half of our time period, the radical party was involved in a series of electoral, parliamentary, and governmental alliances. But with the ascendancy of the UNR in 1958, it was deprived of the opportunity to fashion governmental alliances and engaged only in opportunistic electoral alliances.
7.05 Relations with Foreign Organizations
4 for 1950-56, ac6
5 for 1957-62, ac6
For some years after the war, the radicals were active in the liberal international, but this participation waned toward the end of our time period, and the party apparently was not represented at most meetings.

Organizational Complexity Variables, 8.01-8.07
8.01 Structural Articulation
4 for 1950-62, ac8
The national congress, national council, and executive committee or bureau were the mai ational organs of the radical party. While representation to the congress was supposedly at a ratio of 1 delegate per 100 members in the local committees and federations, there was little check on membership other than purchase of membership cards. Moreover, admission to the congress could be purchased itself, making the exact composition of the congress an unstable matter. The national council was huge itself, often more than 1,000, although only 150 constituted a quorum. The bureau numbered about 70.
8.02 Intensiveness of Organization
3 for 1950-62, ac7
The basic unit of the party was commonly identified as the local committee, which varied in membership from about 15 to 300. The territorial scope of the local committee was stated in party statutes to be the legislative district, although the literature almost uniformly cites the canton, of which there were about 3,000 in France, to be the most common basis for local committees.
8.03 Extensiveness of Organization
6 for 1950-62, ac6
It appears that local committees of the radical party were located throughout France, but the literature is not explicit about coverage.
8.04 Frequency of Local Meetings
No information
8.05 Frequency of National Meetings
7 for 1950-62, ac9
What was called the commission executive and later the bureau usually met weekly.
8.06 Maintaining Records
5 for 1950-62, ac7
The radical party did not tend to publish papers itself as much as they had papers affiliated with the party, but it did maintain a periodical publishing program. Apparently the party had no research division at all, and federation membership lists were not generally available to the national organization until 1959. Even then, there is some question of their quality.
8.07 Pervasiveness of Organization
8 for 1950-62, ac4
The radicals were strong in the farmer's cooperative movement and had specialized groups for women, youth, and government workers, But these groups probably had few adherents and party control was probably not Great.

Organizational Power Variables, 9.01-9.08
9.01 Nationalization of Structure
3 for 1950-62, ac9
Federations within the party had considerable autonomy of action. Until 1959, they kept their own membership lists, which provided the basis for their representation at the national congresses, and they often bought up membership cards to increase their voting strength in the congress.
9.02 Selecting the National Leader
3 for 1950-62, ac8
Sometimes called the party chairman and sometimes the party president, he was elected by the congress for a two-year term and limited to two terms in office. It was understood that no one holds the party leadership post while also prime minister.
9.03 Selecting Parliamentary Candidates
4 for 1950-62, ac5
Selection of parliamentary candidates was effectively decentralized in the hands of the federations before 1958 and in the hands of the local committees ads, when the districts became smaller. Despite provisions in the party statutes for the national office to endorse radical party candidates--although not to approve the candidates--there is no mention of national endorsement of candidates in the literature, which is also silent on the extent of participation by the rank and file members--thus taken to be minimal at most.
9.04 Allocating Funds
5 for 1950-62, ac5
The national organization sold membership cards to federations, thus providing the national organization with funds for allocation. But the federation did not always sell all the cards to individual members, for wealthy notables were known to purchase blocks of cards to increase the federation's strength at the national level.
9.05 Formulating Policy
6 for 1950-62, ac9
The executive committee, dominated by parliamentary members of the party, and more particularly the smaller bureau, also dominated by parliamentary members, formulated major policy decisions within the radical party.
9.06 Controlling Communications
3 for 1950-62, ac4
There is little evidence about the amount of influence exercised by the radical party press, but radical newspapers operated at both the national and provincial level. However, it is unlikely that the national organization wielded any sort of editorial control over the content at either level, but especially the provincial press.
9.07 Administering Discipline
0 for 1950-62, ac9
Party statutes invested specific sanctions of discipline in the hands of the executive committee. Indeed, a whole title of the statutes, composed of four articles, dealt with the subject of discipline. But the literature is unanimous in its judgment that sanctions were not used. Undoubtedly, the 2/3 vote required in the executive committee to apply sanctions contributed to their lack of use. Still, the party expelled members on occasion, but the absence of disciplinary measures in the face of numerous violations of party positions must determine the scoring here.
9.08 Leadership Concentration
3 for 1950-62, ac8
The office of party chairman or president clearly was the most important office in the party, but leadership within the radical party was not concentrated in that office. Only decisions issuing from the national council or the bureau could be said to bind the party to courses of action, and even these decisions might not be followed by local notables or parliamentary representatives.

Coherence Variables, 10.01-10.06
10.01 Legislative Cohesion
.66 for 1950-57, ac8
.66 for 1958-62, ac5
The radicals are frequently described as completely lacking in discipline and parliamentary cohesion. However, this judgment must be viewed in comparison to the French communists and socialists, who seldom suffer defections. When cohesion is determined from 79 roll calls on principal votes for 1950-58 as reported in Williams, Crisis and Compromise, the Rice Index is 66. Comparable data were not available after 1958.
10.02 Ideological Factionalism
6 for 1950-62, ac9
The so-called neo-radicals, representing the rightist wing of the party, were vigorously opposed and eclipsed by the followers of Mendes-France in the middle 1950"s. Although this particular ideological division faded, it left its mark on the party, and right-left factionalism bothered the radicals throughout our time period.
10.03 Issue Factionalism
2 for 1950-62, ac9
Colonial policies, first over Indo-China and later over Algeria, continually divided the party, but these did not seem to produce factions with formal organizations of their own.
10.04 Leadership Factionalism
for 1950-57, ac9
4 for 1958-62, ac9
Mendes-France organized the party around himself in the middle 1950"s, and his followers were popularly referred to as Mendesists. Later, smaller organized factions developed around Gaillard and Morice.
10.05 Strategic or Tactical Factionalism
3 for 1950-57, ac9
2 for 1958 62, ac8
The radicals have been bothered by the question of working with the right or the left. Early in the 1950"s, the party was also divided over the question of support of Degaulle, with some interest expressed in double membership in the RPF and radical party. This type of bigamy was eventually disallowed by the party.
10.06 Party Purges
for 1950-62, ac9
Wholesale expulsion of party members or leaders was not characteristic of the radicals inclination or capability.

Involvement Variables, 11.01-11.06
11.01 Membership Requirements
3 for 1950-62, ac9
By party statute, membership was extended upon completion of an application form and payment of dues. However, membership cards were purchased by wealthier federations within the party to increase their representation in party congresses, and there were probably far more paper members than party members.
11.02 Membership Participation
3 for 1950-62, ac3
With the exception of the middle 1950"s, when representation was reported to have reached a peak of about 100,000 in the party, the membership was usually considerably less--cited as 20,000 in 1959. Many of the members appeared to be elected officials of one sort or another. Because of their obvious involvement in the party in furthering their own electoral fortunes, these members can surely be classified as "militants" in our definition, leading to a middle code for membership participation.
11.03 Material Incentives
3, ac3
In a party whose membership consists largely of elected officialsor candidates for elective office--the militants become mainly these officials or candidates. It is assumed that the prime motivating force for these militants is the set of tangible rewards that derive from winning office.
11.04 Purposive Incentives
0 for 1950-62, ac3
The radicals were pictured as a party of political compromisers and opportunists who advanced various interests of local notables. For a brief period under Mendes, France's leadership, the radicals pursued a program of social and political reform, but he ran afoul of the party's conservative leaders and resigned his position after only two years of leadership.
11.05 doctrinism
0 for 1950-62, ac6
the only consistent doctrine of the radicals is anti-clericalism, but this does not exist in a codified form, and there is no anti-scripture that is prescribed reading. Our consultant, however, feels that the writings of Alain (Emile Chartier) in opposition to the centralization of power in the executive did draw references from radical socialists.
11.06 Personalism
0 for 1950-62, ac3
Mendes-France was certainly the most personalistic of the radical leaders during our time period. But it seems that the admiration for Mendes-France was more widespread among the population in general than radical party members in particular. No doubt his personal popularity attracted people into the party, witness the membership peak in 1956, but his personal qualities did not seem to account for the motivation of party militants. Leaders were not so important within the MRP. Even its former leader, Bidault, was expelled by the party, and his departure caused little defection by party members.