Popular Republican Movement - A Gradual Decline

A Gradual Decline

With the creation of the Gaullist RPF and the reconstruction of the conservative right in the National Center of Independents and Peasants (Centre national des indépendants et paysans or CNIP), the MRP faced challengers to represent the right-wing electorate. At the 1951 legislative election, it lost half of its 1946 voters (12.6%). Furthermore, due to its propensity for integrating conservative politicians sometimes compromised by their association with Vichy, it was sardonically nicknamed the "Machine à Ramasser les Pétainistes" ("Machine for collecting Pétainists").

The MRP also dominated French foreign and colonial policies during most of the later 1940s and 1950s. Along with the French Socialist Party, it was the most energetic supporter in the country of European integration. It was also a strong backer of NATO and of close alliance with the United States, making it the most "Atlanticist" of French political parties.

Its leaders, especially Georges Bidault and Paul Coste-Floret (foreign and colonial ministers respectively in several French coalition governments) were primary architects of France's hard-line colonial policies that culminated in long insurgencies in Vietnam (1946-1954) and Algeria (1954-1962), as well as a series of smaller insurrections and political crises elsewhere in the French Empire. The MRP eventually divided over the Algerian question in the late 1950s (with Bidault being an avid supporter of the OAS).

After the 13 May 1958 crisis, the party supported De Gaulle's return and called for approval of the constitution of the Fifth Republic. It participated in the government of national unity behind De Gaulle, then broke with him in 1962 over his opposition to extending European economic integration into the realm of political integration. Besides, it was against presidentialization and de Gaulle's scorn towards Parliament.

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