20 DECEMBER 1946, Page 1

French Impasse

The steady reappearance in the Fourth Republic of all the familiar features of the Third is none the less depressing for being inevitable. The game of Cabinet-making has gone through all the usual stages. The obvious leaders—Communists and M.R.P.—have turned each other down ; M. Blum has made the familiar bid of the respected elder statesman to form a Government of national union ; and now a minority Government of Socialists is being tried, with the approval of the Assembly expressed in a vote of 58o to 16 in its favour. Since whatever Government is formed now can only hold office until Janu- ary, when the President of the Republic is to be elected, its exact com- position might be held to be a matter of indifference. But, in fact, the balance of parties in the National Assembly is such that, with Com- munists, M.R.P. and Socialists each holding less than one-third of the total seats, shuffling and temporary expedients might well go on for its whole five years of life, and that France cannot afford. It might be possible to let the deputies go on playing politics if the economic life of France could be trusted to look after itsAf. But it cannot. M. Robert Schuman's recent proposals for immediate retrenchment and currency stabilisation and M. Monnet's longer-term plan for the direction of a vastly increased share of total resourzes to capital con- struction are both bound to meet with opposition that only a strong Government could overcome. Where is such a Government to be found ? M. Blum's decision that the Socialist Party should accept responsibility for five weeks is courageous. But if the Socialist Party had the supreme courage to ally itself firmly either with the Com- munists on its left or the M.R.P. on its right—in short, to die with a bang instead of a whimper—it might provide an effective though revolutionary solution to France's problem. It would mean splitting the Assembly as it has never been split before, but desperate situa- tions require desperate remedies, and if the parties do not provide them General de Gaulle may yet produce the most drastic medicine of all.