Gustave Hervé (1871–1944) at the Extremes of the French Third Republic
Chapter 27 The Stavisky Affair and the Events of February 6, 1934
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As the impact of the Depression began to be felt, the French political arrangements supposedly became increasingly dysfunctional. Hervé certainly believed that, when he described the new Cartel government elected in 1932 as a reenactment of the incompetence and chaos of the 1924 Cartel des Gauches.1 Because Radicals persisted in courting Socialists, despite their profound differences over economic matters, the latter group held a veritable “sword of Damocles” over every Radical ministry, making reform attempts precarious according to historian Pierre Miquel.2 The Radicals generally wanted to cut expenditures and eliminate budget deficits, while Socialists thought that such policies would deepen the Depression. With falling revenues, growing deficits, and rising social expenditures, the Cartel was deadlocked, leading to seven ministries in eighteen months. Such political paralysis fostered increasing activism by interest groups which sought to protect their concerns, and that created a volatile situation ripe for the reappearance of the antiparliamentary ligues.3 “Nothing was more troublesome in the heavy social climate of crisis than this political merry-go-round where the same war horses turned at an accelerating speed. A new scandal sufficed to carry antiparliamentarianism over the edge. The Stavisky Affair, following the Hanau and Oustric banking scandals of 1928 and 1930 respectively, which implicated deputies and financiers, managed to do that.”4 The Stavisky Affair confirmed the ← 765 | 766 → prejudices and assumptions of many people that corrupt deputies were always ready to use their offices to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers. Such clichés had become...
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