Is France Communist? (From Baguettes to Hammer and Sickle)

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| By : Christine
I’m a retired 65 years old and I live in western Paris. Born in Alsace, I have always lived in this beautiful region of eastern France. Passionate about travel, culture and literature. Find me on Linkedin.

Bonjour les amis,

You have understood it I think: I am curious.

When I wrote the article on the debate of my friends readers is France socialist, during my research there were also many references to the history of communism in our country.

So, I had fun researching this subject: is France communist?

And don’t tell me that I have time to waste 🙂

I love to ask myself questions about my country.

Have a nice day!


Definition of french Communism

Communism, in general, refers to a social, political, and economic ideology that seeks to establish a classless society where the means of production are owned and controlled collectively, with wealth and resources distributed according to need.

It is characterized by:

  • The creation of the French communist party (PCF) in 1920 and a certain political influence during the 20th century
  • The important role in the French resistance during the Second World War
  • A decline of political influence from the 1980s onwards.

History of Communism in France

From the origins of Communism to the present day

the appearance of the PCF in the French political landscape

The French Communist Party (PCF) was founded in 1920 as a result of a split within the French Section of the Workers’ International (SFIO).

Initially a small party, it grew in influence during the 1930s, particularly through its participation in the Popular Front, a left-wing coalition that won the 1936 elections and enacted progressive social reforms.

the second world war and the peak of political influence

During World War II, the PCF was instrumental in the French Resistance against Nazi occupation.

Post-war, it became one of France’s leading political forces, reaching its peak in the 1946 and 1956 elections with around 25-28% of the vote.

The PCF was part of several coalition governments, advocating for nationalization of key industries, a planned economy, and extensive social welfare programs.

Createur: Yann Caradec 

the decline of PCF

The PCF’s fortunes began to decline in the 1980s due to internal divisions, the rise of the Socialist Party, and the broader global decline in communism.

By the 1990s, the PCF had lost much of its electoral support, and its role in French politics diminished.

The PCF today

In recent years, the PCF has attempted to reinvent itself, embracing a more moderate left-wing platform and forming alliances with other progressive parties.

But the party has struggled to regain its former prominence.

Today, the PCF remains a small but vocal presence in French politics, advocating for social justice, workers’ rights, and the fight against inequality.

the historical figures of french Communism

The History of our country and the evolution of ideas can be understood above all with the history of men:

Maurice Thorez (1900-1964)

Maurice Thorez was a central figure in French communism and served as the General Secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF) from 1930 to 1964.

Born into a working-class family, Thorez joined the PCF in the 1920s and quickly rose through the ranks.

Under his leadership, the PCF joined the Popular Front coalition, which won the 1936 elections and implemented significant social reforms.

During World War II, Thorez controversially spent the war years in the Soviet Union, but he returned to France after the Liberation to help rebuild the PCF.

He served as a minister in several post-war governments and was a key advocate for nationalization and workers’ rights.

Thorez remained a staunch Stalinist until his death in 1964, which marked the end of an era for the PCF.

Georges Marchais (1920-1997)

Georges Marchais was another prominent figure in French communism, serving as the General Secretary of the PCF from 1972 to 1994.

Born to a working-class family, Marchais became a member of the PCF in the 1940s and later worked as a trade union leader.

As General Secretary, he sought to modernize the party, distancing it from the Soviet Union and advocating for a more independent and democratic socialism.

His tenure also saw the decline of the PCF’s electoral influence.

Marchais stepped down in 1994 and passed away in 1997, leaving behind a mixed legacy.

6 reasons why France is not considered a communist country

France is not considered a communist country for several reasons, including its political system, economic structure, and the general political climate.

1. Political System

France is a representative democracy with a semi-presidential system.

The president holds significant power, while the Parliament, composed of the National Assembly and the Senate, represents the legislative branch.

Multiple political parties exist in France, including the center-right, center-left, far-right, and far-left.

The French Communist Party (PCF), which represents communist ideology, has seen a decline in its influence since the 1980s. The PCF is no longer a major force in French politics, and other parties, such as the Socialist Party and La République En Marche!, have been more successful in recent elections.

Source: wikimedia commmons

2. Mixed Economy

The French economy is based on a combination of free-market capitalism and state intervention.

The government plays a significant role in key sectors, such as energy, transportation, and telecommunications, and maintains a robust social welfare system.

This economic model remains far from the complete communal ownership and planned economy advocated by communism.

The French economy is characterized by the coexistence of private enterprises and state-owned companies, allowing for competition and innovation while ensuring essential services and social safety nets for its citizens.

3. Social Welfare and Redistribution

France has an extensive social welfare system, which provides healthcare, education, unemployment benefits, and pensions to its citizens.

The government ensures a high degree of income redistribution through progressive taxation and social programs, addressing income inequality and providing a safety net for vulnerable populations.

These measures do not represent the complete elimination of class distinctions and wealth distribution according to need, as envisioned by communism.

4. European Union Membership

France is a founding member of the European Union (EU), a political and economic union that promotes cooperation, integration, and the free movement of goods, services, capital, and people.

EU member states, including France, adhere to market-oriented economic policies, liberal democracy, and respect for human rights.

The EU’s principles are at odds with the centralized control, planned economy, and suppression of political dissent often associated with communist states.

Source: Wikipedia

5. Historical Context

France’s political history has been marked by a variety of political systems, ranging from monarchy to republicanism.

Throughout the 20th century, the country experienced periods of instability, including the two world wars, the rise of the far-right, and the post-war reconstruction.

The PCF has never managed to establish a communist government in France.

In the 1980s, the PCF’s influence waned, and the country shifted towards a more moderate, social-democratic orientation under the Socialist Party.

6. Public Opinion

The French public has historically been wary of communism, especially in the context of the Cold War and the negative perception of the Soviet Union.

The majority of the population supports a political and economic system that blends capitalism and socialism.


France is not considered a communist country due to:

  • its political system, mixed economy,
  • its social welfare policies,
  • EU membership,
  • its historical context
  • the public opinion.

The French political landscape accommodates multiple ideologies, with the communist PCF representing only a small faction.

As much as the debate is divided when we wonder if France is socialist, I believe that I do not take risks by saying that the French have always preferred the baguette to the hammer and sickle 🙂

Economy Of France :

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