On January 25, the newspaper of the French Communist Party (PCF), L’Humanité, declared it could no longer pay its bills and requested bankruptcy protection. Although the paper itself is small—its circulation has declined to 32,000 daily readers from 400,000 in its heyday in the 1940s—its travails suggest an irony of history. L’Humanité has gone bankrupt at the moment of France’s greatest wave of popular protest since 1968: the “yellow vest” movement, whose participants have pointedly excluded all parties and figures, including those of the left. The financial bankruptcy of L’Humanité perfectly represents the political bankruptcy of the French left.
L’Humanité has been the voice of the PCF throughout its history, officially from 1920, unofficially since being granted nominal independence in 1999. It has reflected not only the party line but the party’s health. Some of the paper’s problems are related to the general drop-off in newspaper sales