Forming a popular front with the Socialist Party in the 1945 elections, he became vice premier of France from 1946 to 1947. During this time, the Communist members of the coalition government supported the French drive to reimpose colonialism on Indochina. (See, George Moss, Vietnam: An American Ordeal, 3rd Edition 1998, Prentice-Hall; ISBN 0-13-897083-1.) They were supported in this regard by Stalin. (ibid.)
By 1947 a combination of the emerging Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union and growing social conflicts in France, linked to the increasing gap between wages and prices, put the three party union (SFIO, PCF and MRP) under heavy pressure. But the crisis came with the beginnings of the colonial war in Vietnam, with the communist deputies in the Assemblée nationale voting against the communist-participating government. That incident led Premier Paul Ramadier to dismiss his Communist ministers from the government on 7 May 1947. Contrary to a very common legend, the firing of the communist ministers was not linked to U.S. pressure, as a condition for France to benefit from the coming Marshall Plan. But the parallel movements in Italy and Belgium show that Cold War political fences were being built all over Western Europe at that time. The Communists' refusal to continue support for the French colonial reconquest of Vietnam on one hand and a wage-freeze during a period of hyperinflation on the other were the immediate triggers to the dismissal of Thorez and his colleagues from the ruling coalition in May 1947.
Although the Communists under Thorez's leadership continued to enjoy a dedicated popular following, the French political system operated to isolate and marginalize them for the remainder of the regime. Following the Cominform meeting in September 1947, Thorez abandoned its cooperative attitude towards the other political forces, intending to follow the Zhdanov Doctrine. He then proved to be the most Stalinist of all communist leaders in Western Europe, blocking the evolution of his party. That lack of dynamism clearly appeared after de Gaulle came to power again in 1958 upon the founding of the French Fifth Republic: the Communist Party's strength in the Chamber dropped to 10 seats, but Thorez retained his seat.
In 1950, at the height of his popularity among party members, Thorez suffered a stroke and remained in the Soviet Union for medical care until 1953. During his absence, the party was de facto controlled by his ally Jacques Duclos, who expelled Thorez's rival André Marty. Thorez resumed his duties upon returning to France. Although his health deteriorated, Thorez remained party leader, until shortly before his death in 1964 on a Black Sea cruise.
He published Fils du peuple (1937; Son of the People, 1938) and Une politique de grandeur française (1945; "Politics of French Greatness").
The city of Torez in Ukraine is named after him. The Maurice Thorez Moscow Institute of Foreign Languages (Московский институт иностранных языков имени Мориса Тореза) was named in his honor in the Soviet Union.
Read more about this topic: Maurice Thorez
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