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Independent Radicals

The Independent Radicals (French: Radicaux indépendants) were a center-right French political current during the French Third Republic.

Originally in the 1900s French political parties were campaign organisations, separate from the associated parliamentary group. Two parliamentary groups existed with a blurred boundary between them, and sharing a similar ideology: the Radical-Socialist group and the Radical Left group. In 1914 the Radical-Socialist Party ordered all of its parliamentarians to sit exclusively in the Radical-Socialist group, creating a firm boundary between the two parties: the Radical Left group was now the parliamentary party of 'Independent' Radicals who left the Radical-Socialist Party as well as those who refused to join it, normally out of disagreement with the Radical-Socialists' preference for allying with the Socialist Party.

From 1914 to 1940, Radical Republicans in parliament were therefore split into two distinct groups, the Radical-Socialist Party or the Independent Radicals in the Radical Left party, based on their preferred partner, the Socialist Party to their left or the conservative anticlericals of the centre-right Democratic Alliance. This made the Radical Left a pivotal party of the centre, and regardless of whether the government was centre-left or centre-right there was usually one or more Independent Radical in cabinet.

At various moments during the interwar the Radical-Socialist Party was subject to minor schisms over the attitude to the government of the day. Whenever the more conservative Radical-Socialists quit their caucus, they would either join the Radical Left group, or initially form a small splinter Radical group before eventually joining the Radical Left. In 1938 an Independent Radical Party was formed from the merger of two groups that had at different points split off from the Radical-Socialist Party in protest at its choice of allies: Henry Franklin-Bouillon's anti-socialist Social and Radical Left (formed in 1927), and André Grisoni's recent anti-communist dissidents.

In 1930, the Independent Radical Raoul Péret became Minister of Justice in André Tardieu's cabinet. He was incidentally the cause of his fall because of his personal links with the banker Albert Oustric.

Over time the boundaries between the Independent Radicals and the Left Republican group (caucus of the Democratic Alliance) grew less clear. In 1936 an attempt was made by the liberal former-premier Pierre-Étienne Flandin to merge the two groups under the label Alliance of Left Republicans and Independent Radicals (ARGRI). It ultimately failed: while some independent Radicals joined, others refused and continued the old caucus under the name "Independent Radical and Democratic Left" group.

In the Senate, the Independent Radicals sat in the Democratic and Radical Union (Union démocratique et radicale) parliamentary group.

After the Liberation of France, several deputies, including the mayor of Nice, Jean Médecin, formed an Independent Radical Party (PRI), which was a founding member of the Rally of Left Republicans coalition.


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