June 17, 1951 – France Goes To The Polls – The French Elections Of 1951
Sixty-six years ago today, France went to the polls. This time to elect the Second national Assembly of the Fourth Republic. After World War 2, the three major political parties which took center stage were the French Communist Party, the French Socialist Party and the Christian Democratic Republican Movement. The Third Republic, which consisted of the Radical Party and The Classical Right in power just before World War 2 were considered archaic and no longer an important part in French political life. But when the Fourth Republic came into being in 1947, the strikes began as the did The Cold War and the alliance formed by the three parties splintered in different directions, and so in 1951 a second election had taken place.
From the opening hours of the election, 50% of the French population turned up at the polls in what was considered one of the most hotly contested elections in recent times.
This radio documentary, produced by NBC Radio as part of the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow series, looks at the candidates and the issues as well as running historic recordings and events surrounding French politicians of France. The most dramatic being the on-the-spot recording of an assassination attempt of General Charles DeGaulle as he entered Paris in 1944. Other important and historic recordings feature many of the important French politicians of the day.
The election offered a number of surprises, but in keeping with the times, complacency was no longer an asset to the affairs of a country during the Post-War years. America was knee-deep in Korea, but France was also knee-deep in Vietnam (or French Indochina as it was known by its Colonial name) – there was also Algeria on the horizon and like most European countries, The Communist party was making its presence known, although in France, the Communist Party lost the popularity it once did in 1947.
Here is that documentary as a reminder of how elections and politics are never-ending and voting is the crucial key to the destiny of a country.