VOL. 171 No. 5110

LONDON APRIL 16th, 1938




By the Rev. R. H . J. Steuart, S.J.


By Lucien Corpechot


I.—By the Rev. J . Phillips, S.J.


Full List for Easter Week

A Translation by Mgr, Knox

Full List o f Contents on page 496.

THE WORLD WEEK BY WEEK M. Daladier’s Powers

And Background

M. Daladier has started well. He has succeeded in forming a Cabinet, nearly all of it drawn from his own rank or party, and he has secured from the Chamber, on his first appearance before it, a virtually unanimous vote, and powers to legislate by decree until the end of July. These powers are to be used for the two essential purposes o f national defence and financial order. National defence was being threatened by the extension of strikes in the aircraft factories, for the air arm is notoriously the weakest part of French armament. The workers in the nationalized factories have returned to work with a seven per cent increase in wages for a week o f forty-five instead of forty hours. This settlement was reached independently of M. Daladier’s success in the Chamber of Deputies. It enables him to concentrate his energies on the root weakness of France today, the difficulty of financing the State without abandoning the whole social programme of the Front Populaire. France has lately been importing growing quantities o f raw materials for foodstuffs, while the exports of French manufactures have remained about the same, and this growing adverse trade balance makes it essential that French manufactures shall not cost more, and therefore that the level of costs in France shall not advance more rapidly than costs outside are advancing. If M. Daladier has, in consequence, to transform the Blum “ pause” in social legislation into a general relegation of social policy to a secondary place, he will now encounter industrial and not political opposition. His declaration to the Chamber was an appeal to surrender, for the time being, certain constitutional privileges and rights in order that France might save herself and the country be made secure in the new and dangerous Europe that has arisen. Compulsory arbitration is accordingly laid down, and the net effect of the events of the past week is to carry France two stages nearer to authoritarian Government.

M. Daladier is as well placed as any French politician to carry through this change. It is five years since he was last at the head of a Government, and then he had to carry through cuts in State wages, cuts which lost him the support o f the Socialist Party, and involved him in angry scenes with M. Blum. Today that history repeats itself. But M. Daladier is no longer felt to be playing the traditional Radical rôle o f subservience to the Bank of France, and the prescriptive right o f anonymous finance to have its profitability treated as the first consideration. In the five years that have passed M. Daladier has become increasingly identified with national defence, and he has combined this reputation with a carefully preserved democratic reputation. He was the Minister, for instance, who dismissed the director at the Comédie Française, in 1934, for producing Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, an anti-democratic play. The February riots of 1934 found M. Daladier as an unpopular Prime Minister, charged with the necessity for keeping law and order, and the riots brought down his Government, Communists and Royalists, alike, shouting for the resignation of Le Fusilleur. There was, at the time o f those riots, so much general support for Government firmness, that it is a weakness which must be borne in mind, in estimates o f the immediate future, that M. Daladier should have lost all authority, both inside and outside of Parliament, and should have col lapsed at the crisis. The strong man reputation which has been built up round his name since has a good deal to cover. But he played so great a part in building up the Popular Front against M. Laval, and in attacking the financial oligarchy with its control of the credit system, that the Left forgave him for his past ; and he is the best placed of the leading Radicals today.