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The French Rural Communist Electorate in the 1920s and 1930s

Boswell, Laird (1991) The French Rural Communist Electorate in the 1920s and 1930s. Social Science Working Paper, 750. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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One of the original characteristics of French communism has been its durable strength in some rural areas ever since its foundation at the December 1920 Congrès de Tours. Over the past six decades, the Communists have found strong support not only in certain urban, industrial areas but in some of the more rural and backward areas of the country as well. The Communist party's implantation in the countryside–both in terms of militants and voters – has been concentrated among a number of departments along the northern and western edge of the Massif Central, and along the Mediterranean littoral. The first time the Communists were up for national office–in 1924–they scored best not in an urban department but in the overwhelmingly rural Lot-et-Garonne (south-east of Bordeaux) where they gathered over 30% of the valid votes cast. Eight of the eighteen departments where they did best in that year were predominantly rural. By 1 936 the Party's strength in rural areas had increased notably. The Communists received over 20% of the vote in sixteen departments, nine of which can hardly be considered industrial, and in three of these over 60% of the active population was engaged in agriculture. During the interwar years it is estimated that 15% of the Party's members belonged to the agricultural professions. The question which springs to mind, then, is why the Communists have done so well (and continued to do so in the 1980s during a period of vertiginous electoral decline) in rural departments which hardly correspond, from a sociological perspective, to the image one has of the parti de la classe ouvrière?

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:750
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170831-144705458
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:81041
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:31 Aug 2017 22:32
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:37

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