3 FEBRUARY 1956, Page 4



M P ONSIEUR Guy MOLLET'S large majority of 420 to 71 71 means neither stability nor even momentary tranquillity for him. He would certainly have preferred the Communists to vote against him. Their vote was avowedly an expression of what M. Mollet himself called their 'devouring affection.' In spite of the Socialist Premier's insistence on Atlantic solidarity and his determination to pursue. with greater energy than has been done in the last year, negotiations to promote West European unity, M. Duclos. on behalf of the Communists. declared his party would bestow their 150 votes on M. Mollet, in the hope that popular pressure would improve him. This created a big temptation for the MRP to refuse their votes to M. Mollet. In order that the Socialist voter should not think that the first instinct of his party leaders, once back in Parlia- ment, was to rush into the arms of Centre and Right-wing politics, the MRP had been held at a distance throughout negotiations for formation of the Socialist-cum-Radical Cabinet. Yet the Cabinet must have the MRP vote if it is to survive. Even with that it needs the abstentions of the Con- servatives if it is not to fall into dependence on Communist support. One concession had been made to the MRP. The Radical leader, M. Mendes-France, between whom and the MRP there exists an almost pathological mutual distrust, was not to have the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but sit in the Government as a Vice-Premier without Portfolio. But this negative favour which has caused great irritation among the Radicals scarcely comforted the MRP for being put into Coventry like guilty children. Whatever their faults in the past, to treat them, as has been done, as though they should be both Penitent and willing allies is not very sensible. It is part of the difficult problem with which France's politicians are faced— how to maintain the battle of Government and Opposition, which is necessary if Parliamentary life is to enjoy any favour in the country, when only 400 out of 600 deputies approve of parliamentary government.

The exclusion of M. Mendes-France from the Foreign Office also draws attention to his own refusal of the Ministry of finance and National Economy, which suggests that he is not quite convinced of the possibility of resisting inflation while carrying out even the mild programme of M. Mollet—the gradual levelling-up of provincial with Paris wages. the exten- sion of the paid holiday from two to three weeks, and bigger old age pensions. It is not the new Government's intentions that are doubted, but the possibility of being firm when it is maintained in office like a ball held in the air on a spout of water.

If one certain key to Governmental strength is to be found, it is in the restoration of peace to Algeria; with concessions. indeed, but without surrender—for M. Mollet himself admitted that, like any other government, his must wage war on terror- ism. His immediate programme of reforms is M. Faure's and M. Soustelle's. The proposal to hold elections after abolishing separate constituencies for Europeans raises definite issues and presupposes that elections can be held at all, which is certainly not the case at the moment. The appointment as Minister Resi- dent in Algiers of a general with both a military reputation and one of political sympathy with the Moslem cause is ingenious, but it does not seem to have created the hoped-for psychologi cal shock. General Catroux is 79—an advanced age for facing armed rebellion by the Moslems and fierce political resistance from the large European settler population. The real new feature in French North African policy is the growing but still incomplete recognition that the problems cannot be dealt with piecemeal and that partial solutions in Tunisia and Morocco are endangered unless buttressed from within Algeria. Irrita- tion with offers of mediation from the Moroccan Sultan and the Tunisian leader, M. Bourguiba, may yet turn into appreciation.