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With only a few days left before the French Chamber reconvenes November 15, Premier Edouard Daladier, whose decree powers expire on that date, last week cut a poor political figure by suddenly swapping one basic economic program for another.

He had permitted Finance Minister Paul Marchandeau to draft a program for extracting France from her financial difficulties by drastic measures of “exchange control” and “guided economy.” Former Premier Leon Blum cracked: “I would laugh if it were the time to laugh!” For what Paul Marchandeau had not wanted the Blum Left to do, he now urged as a measure of the Centre.

But the Marchandeau measures gave evidence of being broadly unpopular, so last week Premier Daladier abruptly threw the whole program out. He invited Paul Marchandeau to hand the Ministry of Finance over to Paul Reynaud and take M. Reynaud’s Ministry of Justice. This was quickly done with no Cabinet crisis. After the swap new Finance Minister Reynaud announced he would not answer his telephone for five days, promised by then to have drawn up a new financial program. This was expected to be “orthodox,” that is, not to crack down on private capital or private initiative, but to continue “democratic” efforts to coax and induce a financial recovery in France and “balance the budget.” Without quite knowing what steps M. Reynaud was going to take, M. Marchandeau snorted that “similar measures have failed at least three times before, and I fail to see why they should succeed now.”

Meanwhile the Premier seemed to have largely wasted in irresolution the decree powers which he might have used. The overwhelming vote of confidence in his foreign policy which he received after his return from Munich still stood, however. Meetings last week of the General Councils in all French districts ended in nearly all cases with senators, deputies and mayors voting approval of the Government’s foreign and internal policies. Munich is over the French Chamber dam, but the Premier will be savagely attacked when the Chamber reconvenes for his final break at Marseille with the Communists and for what critics call his “Fascist” measures against French organized labor.

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