French Communist Party

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The French Communist Party is a minority political party in France. It is known by the initials PCF which stand for Parti communiste français.

The PCF was founded in 1920 by a group of union members in the French Section of the Workers' International who were sympathetic to the ongoing Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Ho Chi Minh, the future leader of Viet Nam, was one of its founding members. The PCF was created with the purpose of being a part of an new international workers movement proposed by Vladimir Lenin. However, its initial leaders were reluctant to blindly follow the dictates of the international communism organization that was based in Russia.

After the outbreak of World War II, the PCF was banned in France. In 1941, the PCF joined with the Gaullists to form a National Front for French independence. The PCF lead various worker strikes against the German occupation.

At the end of the war, the PCF was very popular because of its war-time role in the French resistance. It won 159 deputies elected out of 586 seats in the interim Constitutional National Assembly. In the November 1946 election, it won the most votes of any party. The PCF played a major role in France's coalition government. However, in May 1947, the PCF was forced to leave the government as a condition of France receiving United States aid under the Marshall Plan.

In 1958, the PCF was the only major French party which opposed Charles de Gaulle's return to power.

In order to regain power and influence, the PCF entered into alliances with other left-wing groups. In the 1965 presidential election, the PCF supported the candidacy of François Mitterrand, who was an opponent of de Gaulle. The PCF also allied with the Federation of the Democratic and Socialist Left before the 1967 legislative election. In the 1969 presidential election, the PCF candidate won 21% of the vote.

After a poor performance in the 2007 French legislative election, the PCF did not have, for the first time since 1962, the minimum level of 20 deputies needed to form a separate parliamentary group. As a result, it formed a legislative alliance with the Green Party and other left-wing groups.

During its existence, the PCF participated in three governments: in the provisional government of the Liberation (1944–1947), at the beginning of François Mitterrand's presidency (1981–1984) and in Plural Left's cabinet led by Lionel Jospin (1997–2002). A number of local governments were controlled by PCF elected-officeholders, who were known for providing clean streets, public housing, day care centers, municipal swimming pools and street lighting.