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Political challenges

Political challenges

The dream of the monarchy ends

On the right, the legitimists continued to defend the principle of monarchy by divine right. However, the death in 1883 of the count of Chambord, grandson of Charles X, who left no descendents, deprived them of the dream of the coronation of Henry V. The Orleanists accepted parliamentarism and the greater part of the Declaration of the Rights of Man as it pertained to basic freedoms and equality before the law. They lost many Catholic supporters when Pope Leo XIII advocated rallying to the Republic, and they did not recognize themselves in the authoritarian monarchism championed by Charles Maurras's Action Française after 1900. For Maurras's followers, France remained "The Beggarwoman."

Organizations on the left

The foundation of the Radical and Radical-Socialist Party in June 1901 established the strength of those who had brought new layers to the Republic, coloring expansion and stability "with the vivid and real shades of secularism" (M. Rebérioux). A number of small organizations co-existed even further to the left. Between 1889 and 1898, membership in Jules Guesde's French Workers' Party swelled from 2,000 to 16,000, and received 40% of the Socialist vote. Jean Allemane, a typesetter, was one of leaders of the Revolutionary Socialist Workers' Party (PSOR), which made no secret of its anti-militarist and anti-parliamentarian stand. The PSOR hoped for "municipal socialism," but recognized that trade unions represented the best type of worker's organization.

After the Globe Congress of 23-25 April 1905, the Guesdists of the Socialist Party of France and the reformers from the French Socialist Party joined forces in a unified Socialist party, the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO). Under the energetic leadership of Jean Jaurès, the SFIO drew 1.4 million votes and elected a hundred deputies prior to 1914.


Although Marxism had begun to gain followers, anarcho-syndicalism continued to influence the entire workers' movement. On 13 October 1906, eleven years after the founding of the General Confederation of Labor, the Charter of Amiens was passed by eight hundred votes to six. It proclaimed the independence of trade union action from "every political school" and affirmed that both the means and the goal of the revolution was "the revolutionary general strike." Emile Pouget, editor-in-chief of the CGT's newspaper La Voix du Peuple, and one of the authors of the charter, wrote in Le Père Peinard in November 1889, "As long as the people can't get it into their noodles that they have to do without bosses, nothing will be done."


Anti-Parliament cartoon

Demonstration of support for Dreyfus