Courtesy Reuters

The Future of French Democracy

IT IS easy enough to understand why friends of liberty and of democratic institutions all over the world should be looking anxiously in the direction of France. Since the early part of the year our country has been racked by such a serious crisis, there has been such an uproar, discussion has been so violent and bitter, that people abroad must quite legitimately wonder whether liberty is not in danger. That would be a matter of grave concern not only to France herself but to all Europe -- even, I might say without exaggeration, to humanity at large. If the parliamentary system, if democratic institutions, were to go bankrupt in the homeland of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, so spectacular a reversal would have a profound effect on the very fabric of the modern world.

Despite all appearances to the contrary, I may hasten to give assurances that no such peril is really to be feared. To be convinced of the truth of what I say, one must try to grasp -- coolly, objectively, apart and aside from political passions -- what the crisis of the Sixth of February really was. The fact that emerges not only from the mass of testimony collected by the Investigating Commission but from my direct personal observation, is that the movement which that evening developed such violent pressure in the Place de la Concorde was brought on by two distinct forces which at that moment happened to come together and act in the same direction.

One of those forces was unmistakably hostile to the Republic. It inspired and brought together elements centering around the Action Française, men who have never concealed their hostility to the present régime. But if the demonstration had been confined to those elements, which at the most represent a few thousands of individuals in the whole of France, it could have been handled very easily. The trouble came from the fact that the other force, a force

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