As 1936 turned into 1937 a figure from a bygone age, who had already come back from two near-death experiences, made his final impact on French politics. Joseph Caillaux had ridden out an immense scandal when his wife murdered Henri Calmette, editor of the Figaro newspaper, in 1914 when it published some of her indiscreet correspondence, only to be jailed in 1917 on a tenuous charge of treason, in reality because of his political campaign for negotiated peace with Germany. By 1936 he had become a Senator and forced the Front Populaire government to modify its budget for 1937 in a cliff-hanger session, that left it technical spending money illegally.
The expulsion of the Trotskyite POUM faction from the Catalan government in Republican Spain provided a foretaste of the bitter, and ultimately bloody, factional internecine battles of the far left. This was the work of the Stalinists, who were increasingly the dominant force on the Republican side, and the conduit for the only source of serious international support. Ultimately, they devoted more effort to the extermination of the POUM than fighting the Nationalists.
The slow recovery of the US economy from the ravages of the Great Depression made itself felt perversely in yet another massive strike by General Motors workers, keen to share the fruits of improved demand. With twelve plants already shut down, the corporation’s management predicted that 135,000 workers would soon be idle.