BOURGÈS-MAUNOURY GOVERNMENT FALLS

Author: Y. Rubinsky

BOURGÈS-MAUNOURY GOVERNMENT FALLS

The fall of the Bourgès-Maunoury Government on October 1 during the second Cabinet crisis within four months was new evidence of the gravity of the problems facing France and the inability of the bourgeois parties to find a solution.

Bourgès-Maunoury found himself in the minority (253-279 votes) during the National Assembly's vote of confidence on the draft Algerian "outline law." Under the Constitution he could have stayed on a vote of no confidence requiring 298 votes. But he thought better of it.

It is scarcely surprising that it was Algeria which proved the Cabinet's undoing. The continuing colonial war being waged in North Africa by France's rulers is the country's "number one problem." The war in Algeria, as noted in the latest report of the U.N. Economic Commission for Eu_

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rope, costs France no less than 700,000 million francs annually. In an effort to get some reduction in the budget deficit and check the outflow of foreign currency Finance Minister Félix Gaillard initiated an "austerity plan," resorting to a partial devaluation of the franc and curtailing civilian expenditure.

Gaillard's next step was to reduce internal consumption by freezing wages under the pretext of "combating inflation." At the same time the Government sought to allay mounting discontent by freezing prices at their July 31, 1957 level and by widely publicizing its "lower prices" campaign.

The spurious nature of these moves soon became obvious. Wages were, indeed, held down to the same level, but prices-particularly food prices- kept rising. Manufacturers' federations clamoured for an end to price control. In the circumstances, the Government's refusal to negotiate with the trade unions caused renewed working-class protests.

The strike wave, which began in the nationalized undertakings (banks, railways, etc.), rapidly spread to the iron and steel, metal-working and other industries. Bourgès-Maunoury's efforts to cause a split by negotiating only ...

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