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Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-02-09

The most widely-recognised symbol of communism worldwide – the Hammer and Sickle – will no longer appear on French Communist Party membership cards. The party faithful are worried the decision bodes ill for a party with deep roots in France.

The French Communist Party (PCF) has decided to drop the emblematic Hammer and Sickle from its membership cards, fuelling fears in the party’s rank and file that its ideology is being watered down to gain broader popular appeal.

“Everyone in the party is shocked,” PCF Paris Secretary Emmanuel Dang Tran told FRANCE INFO radio on Friday as the party prepared for its annual congress in the capital.

“The PCF is allowing itself and its values to be swallowed up by another organisation, the Left Front,” he added in reference to the loose alliance of far-left parties that made surprising gains in the first round of the 2012 presidential election.

The Left Front’s chosen candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is head of the Left Party, took 11 percent of the vote with the support of France’s Communist Party.

Historic influence in France

But PCF members remain fiercely protective of their party’s identity, forged during the Nazi occupation when it massively expanded its influence through France’s famed resistance groups. After the war, it continued to be a dominant political force in the interim government of Charles de Gaulle, and the party was also instrumental in establishing France’s post-war welfare state.

Party General Secretary Pierre Laurent on Friday denied that removing the Hammer and Sickle from membership cards heralded the demise of the party.

“It’s an established and revered symbol that continues to be used in all our demonstrations,” he told LCI radio. “But it does not illustrate the reality of who we are today; it isn’t so relevant to a new generation of communists.”

The PCF has 10 seats in the 577-member National Assembly, having gained 6.9 percent of the vote in the 2012 election. At its height in 1946, the party took more than 28 percent of the vote and had 182 seats in the Assembly (out of 627).

Date created : 2013-02-08


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